By the time I got my Andy Pafko autograph fielder’s mitt when I was about eight, Pafko had already moved on from the Cubs to the Dodgers and Braves. I never knew he was the center fielder on the ’45 Cubs(the last Cubs team to play in a World Series) AND the left fielder who looked up as Bobby Thompson’s HR sailed over his head at the Polo Grounds to give the Giants the pennant in ’51. He died recently, after living 40+ years as a local hero in the very town where we now live. A lot of things, you just never know.
My family has a tradition of being Cub fans, some of us more lifelong-loyal than others. I spent almost 40 years away from Chicagoland before returning two years ago, and during those years, I yielded to temptation and became a Giants fan. Back here now, I watch both teams closely…but admittedly that’s pretty weak compared with older brother and his descendants, three generations of which keep the hope alive from their base in Sacramento, California. Awesome. Mythic.
My ancestry research shows that my grandparents arrived in Chicago in 1909. My dad, a four-year-old immigrant growing up on the near North Side, experienced Cubs’ baseball as something very special about having a new home. His local ball club had won the world series the year before and were in the process of completing the most successful five-year run in the history of baseball. Yes, that’s right.
Another baseball season is about to begin. I’ll be celebrating my baseball heroes of old and of new. Just like every year. Nice to know some things don’t change.