I watched a Chicago Cubs baseball game last night.
I don’t do this often. In fact, Steph mentioned to me that the only time I watch baseball is when I’m back home in Dubuque visiting the ‘Rents. For that, I place the blame squarely on Bill Ross. He was our neighbor for many, many years until he moved into his ‘dream house’ about three houses further down the street.
This man, however, is a fanatical Cubs fan. He instilled that in us Hughes’ boys. That’s stuck with us to this day. Heck, even my older brother, Greg, wouldn’t let his daughter name her new cat with four white paws ‘White Socks’. Greg let it be named Socks.
I remember going to Mr. Ross’ house for parties as a kid. If the Cubs were playing, it was on the TV in the den. Even if he wasn’t in there all the time, he’d make sure to pass through. Now, for us kids who didn’t really enjoy adult parties, we hung out in the den. It had a patchwork couch on one side and a recliner on the other. Cubs memorabilia was the decor of choice. Pictures of players and Wrigley Field. I remember a framed line-up of a team, but I can’t remember which year it was. There was a gumball machine that dispensed peanuts. When Mr. Ross thought about it, there were M&Ms in a bowl. Those never lasted after one of our visits.
On one wall hung The Dugout by Norman Rockwell. I like this painting. It’s the quintessential image for the Cubbies. I do hope that some day they’ll win the World Series again. And I truly do hope that it happens before Mr. Ross is no longer with us. He deserves that much.
Some of the enthusiasm for baseball faded as I got older. I think it was the strike of 1994 that did it. I miss players like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, and Mark Grace. Yet anytime I turn on a game, it’s got to be a Cubs game. Because that’s the way it is.
And that game I watched? Cubs won in the bottom of the 13th off a Grand Slam.