My dad was born yesterday, 70 years ago. A lifelong die-hard Cubs fan who reared me to be the same, he taught me to keep score and to watch out for the hit and run.
When the Cubs went up 3-1 against the Marlins back in ’03, he shelled out for Champagne. Game six came the day after he turned 54.
Finally — after the College of Coaches, Brock-for-Broglio, 1969, 1984, letting Maddux get away — the National League pennant was close at hand. Then we endured those soul-crushers together and kept the bubbly corked.
I waited a couple of years before drinking the Champagne to celebrate with my then-wife Karen the first pennant win for her hometown Houston Astros. Pa was not happy about that one.
“Dad,” I said, trying to explain, “we can’t wait around for the Cubs. Even Champagne goes bad eventually.”
So how could I ever forget where Pa was on that overdue November night when Anthony Rizzo squeezed Kris Bryant’s toss for the final out?
Well, he sat alone in his bedroom, tucked neatly inside of a plastic bag, nestled in an urn with a lovely Oriental pattern that his wife had picked out. In another room, she watched a soap opera on TV.
Die-hard Cubs fan, indeed, for more than 24,000 days. He died, hard — small cell carcinoma of the prostate — 190 days short of tasting the ultimate victory and embracing his only child.