*This piece is also featured in the November 9th-November 15th issue of the Chicago Defender newspaper*
I wish my Uncle Jesse was here to celebrate the Cubs 2016 World Series Championship with me.
Growing up right off of 90th and Cottage Grove, I would come home from school, grab my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches my great grandmother Pansy would have ready for me at my request and go straight to my Uncle Jesse’s room in the back of the house. He would have the Cubs game on WGN, AM radio blasting, (he couldn’t stand Harry Caray) with a couple cans of Old Style and a 1/2 pint of the cheapest whiskey he could get his hands on and just tell me story after story. Stories about everything from the Negro Leagues, to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. From Fergie Jenkins, the late Ron Santo, all the way to the man himself Billy Williams.
He gave me an appreciation for the greats of Cubs past all while watching my favorite players of the 80’s with me. Bobby Dernier, Ryne Sandberg, “The Sarge” Gary Matthews, Rick Sutcliffe. Guys like Shawon Dunston, “The Hawk” Andre Dawson and current Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez were my heroes.
You see, each and every Cubs fan has someone like my Uncle Jesse.
The one that told us of how each and every Cubs player sucked until they leave Chicago and blossom into new players with new teams. We never talked about curses, a goat, race, or anything of that nature. It was strictly baseball. It was all about the work ethic, the passion, and knowledge of the game.
We remember watching the vintage 1984 season with our “Uncle Jesse’s” in which Rick Sutcliffe won the Cy Young and Ryne Sandberg the MVP but came up short to the late great Tony Gwynn and the San Diego Padres.
We remember the “Shawon-O-Meter” where longtime Cubs fan Dave Cihla held a sign in the left field bleachers displaying shortstop Shawon Dunston’s daily batting average.
We remember the dismal, last place 1987 season where the only bright light was Andre Dawson and his 49 homerun MVP season.
\We remember Wrigley Field with no lights.
We remember the 1989 season with veteran guys like Dawson and Sandberg mixed with newcomers such as Mark Grace, Greg Maddux and rookie
Jerome Walton and thinking Maddux would be the missing piece to the puzzle…until he became another Cubs casualty and became an all-time great with the Atlanta Braves.
We remember 2003. One word. BARTMAN.
Our “Uncle Jesse’s” would have loved this magical 2016 season.
They would have loved Theo Epstein’s commitment to the process.
They would have loved the family atmosphere Manager Joe Maddon created around the team.
They would have loved Kris Bryant’s humbleness, how smooth Addison Russell is, Dexter Fowler’s leadership and Javier Baez’s swag.
Our “Uncle Jesse’s” would have loved everything about this 2016 Cubs team.
So, to the mothers, like my “mom dukes” that showed their sons how to properly score a baseball game using a scorecard. To the Uncles, like my Uncle Jesse who embodied the true essence of a Black Cubs fan that suffered the annual heartbreak of the “Wait til’ next year, Cubs”…When first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught the throw to first from third baseman Kris Bryant for the final out that locked down their 1st World Series win in 108 years, it was not only a win for the Cubbies, it was a win for US.
So we celebrate in your honor. We know you’re smiling from heaven because THE CUBS FINALLY DID IT!