Chicago Cubs baseball fans

HARRY CAREY
HARRY CAREY

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

"The Star Spangled Banner" is the song played more than any other in America today, followed by "Happy Birthday to You." In third place is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Harry Carey, the beloved Chicago Cubs baseball broadcaster from 1982 through 1997, began the tradition, in his first year with the team, of singing this song during the Seventh Inning Stretch of Cubs' games. After Harry suffered a stroke, a new tradition of bringing in "guest conductors" to perform the song was born. Of the manifold famous guests who have performed the song at Wrigley Field, they include: Muhammad Ali, Donald Trump, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Jay Leno, Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark, David Copperfield, Chuck Berry, Shania Twain, Journey, Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Morgan, Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Barney the Dinosaur, Bozo the Clown, and of course, Bill Murray.

THE AUTHOR AT WRIGLEY WITH HIS FAMILY
THE AUTHOR AT WRIGLEY WITH HIS FAMILY

Tradition and Folklore

Tradition and folklore lend a unique aura to the Cubs, and to the special atmosphere at Wrigley Field—nicknamed "The Friendly Confines" by Ernie Banks. For instance, "The Bleacher Bums" is an appellation given in the 1960s to fans who regularly sat in the bleachers (the cheap seats). Since all Cubs' home games were played in the daytime, the connotation was that they must not have gainful employment. But the aura and atmosphere alone does not explain why the Cubs are among the most popular sports franchises ever; nor why they draw the most fans on the road of any sports team.

JACK BRICKHOUSE
JACK BRICKHOUSE

Chicago Cubs baseball on WGN TV

Chicago Cubs baseball is the longest running television program in history. WGN has broadcast the Cubs since 1948, including every home game to countless boys in the afternoon for the first thirty years, who became lifelong fans. The iconic Jack Brickhouse was the broadcaster from 1948 through 1981. The clincher came in 1978, when WGN Superstation became available nationwide on cable and satellite television networks, then a nascent enterprise. Now, though people moved around the country as our society became vastly more transient, those who grew up watching the Cubs could still see their games on television, virtually every day or night, no matter where they were located. I went on the road with my band in 1979 but luckily, I could still watch my Cubs in action. I believe that this move by WGN and the Cubs is what ensured a nationwide following.


The Age of Statistics

One of the major changes in Major League Baseball in the 21st Century, has been that the "hunch managers" have been replaced by the "data managers." The old time managers—Sparky Anderson comes to mind—played their hunches (as did many American businessmen back then, too). They would get a gut feeling that, "Old Joe can get a hit off this guy," or that they should bring in a certain relief pitcher in a particular situation, and go with it. This style has been completely supplanted by the modern manager who has reams of data at his disposal—and uses it to deadly effectiveness. The modern manager can tell you how well a specific batter hits a particular pitcher on a Tuesday night in a certain park if it is above 72 degrees Fahrenheit with two outs and two runners on base—If he didn't have a fight with his wife that day. Statistical analysis has also greatly affected pitching patterns, and the positioning of the defense, against individual batters.

ARAMIS RAMIREZ
ARAMIS RAMIREZ

The Cubs in the 2000s

As the new millennium dawned, Cub fans were treated to stunning late season collapses in 1999 and 2001. Mark Grace left the Cubs after the 2000 season, having led all National League batters in Hits and Doubles for the decade of the 1990s. There was another infamous, disastrous failure in 2004, when the Cubs had a seemingly safe lead in the push for the playoffs—only to lose six of eight to close the season. But 2003 was the year of the worst heartbreak of all. The good news was that the Cubs won their division championship; and won a postseason series for the first time since 1908. I attended several playoff games that year—all of which they won—and a multitude of my friends and family saw me on television repeatedly during a playoff game at the Florida Marlins (I had seats directly behind first base). The Cubs were only five outs from their first World Series appearance since 1945, and ahead 3-0 in the game, when the Curse reared its ugly head again. A fan, Steve Bartman, reached out and prevented the Cubs' Left fielder from catching a foul ball; the Cubs' solid shortstop muffed a routine grounder; the Cubs lost the game; the Cubs lost the series the next day.

Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa left the team following the 2004 season. Of all the players who ever wore a Cubs uniform (1870-2009), Sosa hit the most Home Runs; produced the 3rd most Runs Batted In; and scored the 6th most Runs. He also recorded at least four of the top ten single season performances ever by a Cub hitter, with respect to his statistics in Home Runs; Runs Batted In; Total Bases; and Slugging Average. In three statistical categories he turned In the all time best mark for the team: 66 Home Runs (1998); 425 Total Bases (2001); Slugging Average of .737 (2001). Compared to all baseball players in the history of Major League Baseball, Sammy holds the record for the 3rd, 5th, and 6th most Home Runs in a season. His performance in 2001 produced the 10th most RBIs and 15th highest Slugging Percentage in history. For his career he is 6th in homers, 24th in RBI; 39th in slugging; and 69th in runs scored, of all the men who ever played this game.

DERREK LEE
DERREK LEE

Derrek Lee and Kerry Wood

Derrek Lee, Cubs' First baseman, deserves special mention for the extraordinary year he had in 2005. Derrek led the National League in Batting Average; Slugging Percentage; Hits; Doubles; and Total Bases. He finished 2nd in Home Runs and Runs Scored. And won the Gold Glove Award as the best fielder at his position. Lee's statistics for the 2005 season are in the top ten of all-time performances by a Cubs' Batter in a multitude of categories.

Kerry Wood left the team after the 2008 season holding the all-time record for Cubs' pitchers in regard to Strikeouts Per Nine Innings in a career; and in a single season (1998); and posted three of the four best seasons all-time for that statistic. He finished his Cubs career with the 3rd most career strikeouts; and second least hits surrendered per nine innings of all-time. Even more extraordinary—he struck out the 2nd most hitters per nine innings of any pitcher for any team for all-time in a career.


CARLOS ZAMBRANO
CARLOS ZAMBRANO
ALFONSO SORIANO
ALFONSO SORIANO

To be a Cubs' fan is to Suffer

Prior to the 2007 season, the Cubs hired a new manager, Lou Piniella, and signed Outfielder Alfonso Soriano to the largest contract in team history. Soriano is a rare baseball player, one of only four men in the history of the game in the 40-40 Club. Meaning, he once hit 40 Home Runs and stole 40 bases in the same season—an extremely rare combination of speed and power.

In 2007 and 2008 the Cubs won back to back (division) championships, for the first time since 1908. Both years they entered the playoffs heavily favored but not only lost—they didn't win a single postseason game either year. It did not even look like the same team on the field that had been outstanding during the regular season.

The Cubs have not been in the World Series since 1945; and have not won the Championship of Major League Baseball in 101 years—the longest drought of any team in any sport. To be a Cubs' fan is to suffer. Not only because they lose—because of how they lose. They have repeatedly built fan expectations to a fever pitch and then: lost crucial games, in which they were way ahead; collapsed down the stretch of seasons, in which they had comfortable leads in the standings; and lost playoff series in which they were strongly favored. No wonder their fans wonder if there is a Curse on the Cubs.

THERE IS A BRICK WALL BEHIND THAT IVY!
THERE IS A BRICK WALL BEHIND THAT IVY!

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Comments 44 comments

Dave Robinson 7 years ago

This is a fabulous blog !


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Mr. Robinson— I so appreciate you saying so!


Madame X 7 years ago

Nice hub, James. I always liked Sosa even though they called him Corky for a while. And Soriano was a lot of the reason I watched the Cubs in the first place. I was so mad at that fan that one year - I remember the Chicago fans wanted to string that guy up and I couldn't blame them one bit. I didn't know a lot of what you wrote here. Keep at it - it's very enjoyable.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Madame X— Thank you! That fan did receive some death threats and left town. That is going too far, of course. But that "Bartman Game" sure hurt. I didn't go to work for a few days. Sounds silly saying it now. :D


Marty K 7 years ago

I've really enjoyed reading your blog posts James, and this one, of course, hits (painfully) close to home. At the end of last season, following yet another horrific October collapse (another sweep?!), I swore off our Cubbies (again). I said I'd pick another team, once and for all. Even lowly Tampa Bay made it to the world series, so why can't the Cubs (with the third highest payroll in the majors)!?

But sure enough, as spring training approached, I caught myself back on Cubs.com, checking injury reports, and looking forward to opening day. As I sit here watching the Cubs trailing the Cardinals on this Wednesday night, I realize that I'm a Cubs fan for life no matter how painful it is- just like you. Keep it up!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Marty K— Thank you for your commentary.  I am glad you have enjoyed my posts.  It sure is painful to be a Cub fan.  But I cannot give it up.  I have them on the tube now—being shut out for the 2nd night in a row—against a team that was just swept by the Brewers.


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

Ha James, . I am not to much of a baseball fan anymore since the steroid age . But how can anybody not root for the Cubs ? Seeing a ballgame at Wrigley Is on my bucket list, Ive already been to Fenway . But do you pray for Steve Bartman ? He Is a part of Cubs history .


Janetta 7 years ago

The hubby is a Cubs fan. I can't look at that pic of Harry Cary without thinking of Will Farrel :D lol


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

tony0724— I would love to go to Fenway! I haven't prayed for Bartman yet. There are some things I wanted to do to him back 2003 but praying for him wasn't one of them. Thanks for checking in and leaving your thoguhts.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Janetta— Then he must be a fine man. This is gonna be da year!


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Have you been with White Summer since 1973? I love the cubs and I am an avid cubs fan and Harry Carey was the icon of the field. I had seen games before the lights and no matter if they win or lose I am behind them all of the way. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Yes, I formed the band in that fine year, when I was 18. 

A Cubs Fan!!  Awesome!  They haven't been shining too brightly this past week but hey—we don't want to peak too early. 

Thanks for coming by.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I am impressed as I certainly do have to read more about the band, I have also decided read more and to stop the challenge I am falling behind on some of my favorite writers and that bugs the bejeebers out of me. Cubs are going to do fine and at least when I am watching them I know someone else is watching them too!!! :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

I watch nearly every game. In baseball terms, we were a AAAA band—we killed them at AAA but flopped in the majors. :-)

Thank you for taking the time to read and write back.


linedrive profile image

linedrive 7 years ago from Tennessee

Your absolutely right about suffering as a Cubs Fan. Oh well, maybe this is the year. Yeah, right. Good read.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

linedrive—THIS WILL BE THE YEAR!  :D  There's always hope.  Thanks for swinging by.  Suffer we must.


ChicagoCubsTicket profile image

ChicagoCubsTicket 7 years ago from Chicago, IL, USA

No matter how good the team is, it's always fun to spend an afternoon at Wrigley. Sometimes to much fun, lol.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

ChicagoCubsTicket— I have had some fantastic times at Wrigley.  Come to think of it, I always do!  Thank you for visiting my Page.  It's always great to meet another Cubs Fan!


Rowan Campbell 7 years ago

I have been A Cubs fan since July 1992.

I watch cubs games on Espn and enjoy it alot.

I enjoyed the 1998, 2003 , 2007 and 2008 the most.

2003 was a fabulous almost there but lost in 7 games it was sad but year after Iam optimistic and always have faith.

Iam proud to be a cubs fan !

My favourite alltime cubs is Sammy Sosa the best player I have seen.

Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano are my favourite players at the moment.

May the Cubs turn it around and win !


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Rowan Campbell— Thank you for your insight, fellow Cub Fan. I appreciate your visit to my Hub.


jacobt2 7 years ago

what do you think of Sammy Sosa? Should he make it to the Hall? http://hubpages.com/hub/Sammy-Sosa


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

jacobt2— I saw that you wrote this and I bookmarked it to read later tonight and comment on. I actually hadn't heard about until I saw the notice about your Hub in my mailbox. I am tied up, focused on some heavy research for my next article right now but I will get to you later tonight.


Nick from tampa 7 years ago

Being a SW side native and lifelong ChiSox fan , I must admit this may be enemy territory. I don't believe I ever ventured up to Clark & Addison unless I had free tickets , although I used to love the Cubby Bear lounge across the street. My first experience with the Cubs ineptitude was the infamous ball through Leon Durham's legs (age 4) , continued with unthinkable trades of Greg Maddux and Rafael Palmiero , the Tom Treblehorn era , and of course , the "Bartman" debacle. Not trying to be a smartass , but I got to admit the Northside team seems to be snakebit , or maybe there really is something to that Greek guy , his goat , and that hex he put on y'all! The Sox have had there share of screwups , but nothing like the Cubs!

Anywho , Good luck this year. The NL Central is up for grabs this year (not sold on either STL or MIL) , and you just might make the playoffs for a third straight season (and get swept for a third straight season).


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Nick from tampa— Thank you.

I root for the White Sox unless they are playing the Cubs. I don't view them as enemies. Ozzie is a great manager. We are fortunate to have two great managers in town right now. You guys certainly have a chance with your pitching staff. Good luck!

I appreciate you reading and leaving your comment.


Recreation Writer 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

I enjoyed reading the hub. I was born in Chicago and I'm a die-hard Bulls and Cubs fan. It was another disappointing year for the Cubs - a season of unfulfilled potential. On paper, we should have had one of the best teams in baseball and there's a 100 factors for why it didn't pan out that way. I still have hope for next year, but it does get tiresome saying that. But thanks for reminding me why it's still fun to root for the cubs - one of the best traditions in all of sports and great fans.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Great hub, how did I miss the hometown article. Best thing......... you route for the SOX too, so do I. Love the cross town games, and I'm definitely a north sider, but unless they're playing the Cubs........ the Sox are just fine.

Hockey still rules the house.......... but there's nothing like a game at Wrigley on a beautiful day.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Recreation Writer— I have been out of the country for two weeks without a computer, so I apologize for the lateness of this response.

2009 was surely a disappointing year. So many hitters had pitiful seasons. Oh well—back to the drawing board! Again.

Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. Thank you for your insightful comments here.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Kaie Arwen— Thank you! I agree with you: nothing like Wrigley Field. :-)

I appreciate you for coming by and leaving word that you did. We'll get them next year!


kingis profile image

kingis 6 years ago from Springfield, IL

Very interesting hub on the Cubs. Keep up the good work.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

kingis— Thank you very much. I appreciate the visit and comments—even from a fan of the Redbirds. :)


shayne sherby jr. 6 years ago

i think zambrano is the last pitcher in the history of baseball that could start or finish a game

(shayne)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

shane sherby jr.— Welcome to HubPages! I'm not sure what you mean. He is an outstanding pitcher.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi James, hope you are doing better each day,

I would like to thank you for the nice article as always, I am begininning to see the light about baseball and all, Maita


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

prettydarkhorse— I am pleased to educate you as to America's pastime. It's a great game. Thank you for tuning in and leaving this note, Maita.

J


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Very nice hub on the cubs. In your picture you appear to be really enjoying yourself. God Bless You.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

stars439— Thanks! I always enjoy a day at the old ballpark. Especially with my children. I never go without them. It's a family thing we do together.


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

James, you know I love you, but I am torn.

You wrote another great article, as always, but I am still not convinced that you love the Cubs more than the Tigers.

Maybe you have convinced yourself that you do, but I was looking intently at your picture at Wrigley Field, and that was not the face of a happy man. Sure, you tried to look happy and put on a false front, but I could see by the look in your eyes that your heart was elsewhere, perhaps 278 miles to the North East?

As a Tiger fan and fellow Michigander, I feel an obligation to vote this Hub down. My hand has been hovering over the "vote down" button numerous times, some unconsciously, but before I do the right thing and vote this down, I want you to convince me why I shouldn't.

Yes, the Cubs do have cute uniforms, I'll give you that, but there must be something the Tiger Nation can do to win you back. Please consider that nothing good has ever come out of Chicago - I should know I used to live there.

It should also be apparent that both God and nature have set Their hearts against the Cubs and I just don't want to see you get involved in ancient curses and that kind of thing.

I could handle my wife leaving me, but a Michigander defecting to the Cubs is more than I can bear (no pun intended).

Wishing you a speedy recovery - C.J. Sledgehammer


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

CJ Sledgehammer— Believe it brother. I love the Cubs way more than I love the Tigers, even though the Tigers are number two in my book. There have been many seasons in which I have watched 150 Cubs games on television. And I attend a few each year in person.

I sincerely appreciate the gracious compliments. I didn't look happy? Sitting four rows behind home plate at Wrigley Field for the first visit ever by the Boston Red Sox? If you ain't happy there, your odds of ever being happy are pretty slim, my friend.

No pun intended?

I surely never wanted to hurt you, CJ. It's not you . . . it's me. You are great. You are awesome. I just felt I had to go this other way. I hope you can forgive me.

james :D


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

James:

I have decided to forgive this lapse in judgment. There are many things in this universe that I cannot understand and this is just one of them, but I must be gracious and take into account that this is a fallen world and people make mistakes all the time.

I must, therefore, take the good with the bad and since this is only your first transgression, I shall let it pass.

Be that as it may, you have proven yourself to be a gentleman and a saint, not to mention a noble warrior.

Truth be known, I have a Cubbie's hat hanging up on my wall. I cannot wear the thing because it gives me a headache (it's all psychological), but I do respect their color scheme: red, white and blue.

God's blessings to you, my friend - C.J. Sledgehammer

P.S. I decided to vote this article up, in spite of our differences, because if nothing else, you are an excellent writer and there is plenty of room in this universe, even for Cubbie fans. :0)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

CJ Sledgehammer— Thank you for your forgiveness, Brother. When you can snatch the pebble, then you will understand. I do appreciate your graciousness.

Thank you for the voted up, in spite of myself. God Bless You!

James the Younger

or

Jimmy Joe Ray Bob Junior


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

James, I have a funny story for you that I hope you can appreciate.

I was at the grocery store, just a short while ago, and I was wearing my Cubbies hat, because I couldn't find something better to wear. :0)

At any rate, I'm just shopping and minding my own business, and suddenly, out of nowhere, this drunk cowboy passes me by, takes one look at that Cubbies hat on my precious skull, and makes a B-line straight for me.

He demanded to know why I would wear such a thing and I actually thought this poor devil was going to try to put a dent in my 250 pound frame.

I told him the hat meant nothing to me, but got him on the defensive and further distracted him by asking what his favorite team was and so on and so forth.

Turns out that we all ended up having a good time and he left feeling even better than before. In fact, within 10 minutes, he had forgotten why he had even approached me in the first place. As they say, "No harm no foul" and "All's well that ends well".

Anyway, I sure hope someone drove him home.

I told you this story, Jimmy Joe Ray Bob Junior, so that you could see the dangers Cubbie's fans face across the world and even for those who just wear their hats. :0)

Best wishes, behave, and be well - C.J. Sledgehammer


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

CJ Sledgehammer-- I enjoyed your story. And hey! You used my old nickname--Jimmy Joe Ray Bob Junior. I come from a long line of hillbillies and yet at a young age I became a famous sage. So, one of my bandmates, an east coast aristocratic type, first called me the "Hillbilly Philosopher" which somehow over time morphed with the Waltons to become Jimmy Joe Ray Bob Junior. :D

It is extremely dangerous to be a Cubs fans. But Lord knows, it also teaches patience, forbearance, and longsuffering.

I will behave as best I can, brother. Thanks again, my friend, for engaging.

God Bless!

James


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

It's always a pleasure conversing with you, James.

P.S. Tebow just got his walking papers. I told you Denver was going to replace him A.S.A.P. He is either being shipped off to the Jets or Jaguars as of 3/21/12. :0)

May God bless my friend - C.J. Sledgehammer


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

CJ Sledgehammer— Yes, you were right on target about Tebow.

God Bless You!

James :)

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