I really can’t root for the Cubs. I was born and raised in Chicago to a family devoted to the White Sox. Well, most folks in my mother’s family were Cubs fans, but we forgave them for that and for the most part simply ignored their Cubi-ness. The year I was born (1935) the Cubs won the National League Pennant and, of course, lost in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers.
In a vain attempt to convert me, my uncle Bud took me to a Cubs game in ’45. He was not happy when I laughed at Bill – Swish – Nicholson when he struck out. The Cubs lost in the World Series that year to Hank Greenberg and the Detroit Tigers.
A neighbor, Steve Austin, was a long time associate of the Cubs. He knew the players from way back and also was a friend of gum mogul Phil Wrigley the Cubs owner. Steve took my brother and me to Cubs games. We went as a duty. Mom said we should be nice to Steve, but my brother John once told Steve that the Cubs were “all gummed up.” It wasn’t his fault – our Aunt Helen told him to say it.
My claim to fame is that Steve introduced me to Johnny Evers who played in the last World Series won by the Cubs. Even my Dad was envious. The double play phrase ‘Tinker to Evers to Chance’ is still used. I remember also – ‘Miksis to Smalley to Addison’ a border street of Wrigley Field which codified Cub’s shortstop Roy Smalley’s wild throws to first base. The first black players for the Cubs were hall-of- famer Ernie Banks, shortstop, and Gene Baker, second base. Double plays were described by Cubs’ announcer Bert Wilson as “Bingo to Bango to first.” It may be that Bert Wilson is the cause for extending the Cubs’ curse to the present and perhaps the beyond.
After the war, (WW II) our aunt Carlotta and uncle Ed lived briefly with relatives close to Wrigley Field. Aunt Carlotta took John and me to a game on Ladies’ Day. A foul ball into the screen behind the plate seemed to be the most exciting event in the ball game. The crowd sung, and John with them, “whoop boom” as the ball went up and down the screen then to the ground. I was embarrassed – this is baseball?
I made friends with the kids in the neighborhood. We would charge a dollar to watch a parked car during a game to assure it wouldn’t be damaged. There was more money in this than delivering newspapers or caddying, but then, Carlotta & Ed moved to the far South Side.
The Cubs’ opponent in the World Series is the Cleveland Indians. I think of Lou Boudreau, the manager and star shortstop of the 1948 world champion Indians. Cleveland won the series but lost the first game on a controversial run scored in the eighth inning. Phil Masi, Boston Braves catcher, was picked off second base by pitcher Bob Feller but was called safe by the umpire. Photos show shortstop Boudreau tagging Masi out. A base hit followed and Masi scored the only run of the game.
A baseball card show in Milwaukee was attended by Johnny Sain of the old Boston Braves – wining pitcher of the controversial game and Bob Feller of the Indians who, despite pitching a two hitter was the losing pitcher. Our son Joel asked Sain about the game and to write his comments on an 8 x 12 Johnny Sain photo. He wrote:
Bill Stewart made a great call when he called Phil Masi safe John Sain
The next day I accompanied Joel to ask Bob Feller what he thought. We caught Feller as he entered the hall and he started to apologize for being late. We showed him the Sain photo and asked for a comment. Bob Feller was angry and wrote on his photo:
Phil Masi was out by 2 feet in the 1948 WS in Boston World Series we won Bob Feller
That was the last World Series that Cleveland won.
Lou Boudreau went on to be a broadcaster for the Cubs then manager – then broadcaster. Boudreau was from Harvey, a Chicago area town, a University of Illinois basketball player, a great baseball player but not as good as Luke Appling of the White Sox.
I remember Boudreau being picked off third base by Tony Cuccinello of the White Sox using the ‘hidden ball trick.’ I reminded Boudreau of the incident at a card show, and he said that jogging back to the visitor’s dugout behind first base from third base was very embarrassing. After all he was the manager, and he considered Chicago as his home town.
Will the curse continue? It is Halloween time, and I wonder what influence the long-gone-but-present-in-spirit Lou Boudreau will have? Then there’s of course my Aunt Helen and I suspect she may have the most influence in heaven among all the baseball saints.