The Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time in 71 years. I think it would be a nice gesture to call Steve Bartman out of hiding to throw out the first ball at the first home game. Just because the Cubs haven’t actually won the World Series in 108 years doesn’t mean we believe in jinxes.
I’ve already told my Ernie Banks story here. I also have a Cubs World Series story.
In 1984 the Cubs won the National League Eastern Division title, finally avenging the Great Collapse of 1969. Of course, they’d have to get by the San Diego Padres in the playoffs, but everyone knew that was a mere formality.
Anyway, as soon as the Cubs had clinched the division, they put World Series tickets on sale. For us everyday fans who didn’t have connections, there was a lottery. You mailed in your name and address on a postcard, and then there would be a drawing. If your card was drawn, you could buy two tickets. Only one postcard per household was allowed.
I figured that getting my card drawn was a longshot. I also figured that if they did happen to draw one of my cards, they’d probably draw a second one, and I’d be disqualified. So I played by the rules and only sent in one card. But I did have my mother send in a card.
My card wasn’t drawn. My mother’s was.
Now it was a question of claiming the two World Series tickets. The rules said that the lucky winner had to pick up the tickets in person, showing an I.D. My mother wasn’t a baseball fan, and didn’t care about going to the Series. The problem was, she’d just broken her foot and had it in a cast.
So I drove her out to Wrigley one day. A nice cop let me wait on Clark Street while she hobbled into the ticket line on her crutches. While she was waiting, a Tribune photographer spotted her, and thought that a 63-year-old temporarily-disabled woman who’d stand in an hour-long line on her crutches was a great story, and wanted to take her picture. Mom refused; she hadn’t put on her makeup.
Of course, I never did get to use those World Series tickets. My daughter Tracy Samantha was just four months old when these events transpired. Last night she was really excited about the Cubs making it to the Series, and maybe she’ll be able to score a ticket.
As for me, I just realized that I’m already older than my Mom was when she braved that ticket line. So I think I’ll stick to listening to the Series on the radio, and not even try to get into Wrigley for one of the games.
After all, I don’t want to somehow jinx the team.