Cubs Deny 100-Year-Old Fan... Because He Was Late

Jonathan Daniel

You won't believe this story. Or maybe you will.

This article has been making the rounds on Facebook, and also was linked in the comments here earlier Thursday.

The more I read and think about it, the more upset I get. Here's the issue, regarding 100-year-old Cubs fan Louis Reinhart of downstate Metamora:

The 100-year-old retirement-home resident had been invited to join first-pitch ceremonies for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field. But when the wheelchair-bound Reinhart arrived a little late — though still plenty of time before festivities began — the Cubs scratched him from the pregame lineup.

"It was disappointing," says his daughter, Julie Harper of Roanoke.

Just to be clear, neither Reinhart nor his relatives called me about this. A reader alerted me that — for reasons unknown — Reinhart got booted from the ceremony.

"I think this is terrible on the Cubs’ part," the reader wrote.

I agree that it was terrible. The ceremony in question was on Opening Day, April 4. Why was this man late to such an important appointment?

Anyway, the plan was for Reinhart, his daughter and several other family members to arrive at Wrigley by noon, in anticipation of the 1:20 pm start time. Usually, the trip from Metamora takes 2 1/2 hours, so they left at 9 a.m. But because of traffic delays, they didn’t get into the park until 12:15 p.m.

Still, that’s just 15 minutes late. It’s not as if all 41,000 fans were tapping their toes, waiting for an old man to arrive so the game could start.

Still, Cubs reps told Reinhart his tardiness meant he couldn’t take part in the ceremonies. The family was ushered to their seats: no need to go anywhere near the field for the celebration.

"They said it was a time issue," his daughter says.

But that didn’t make much sense. From their seats, the Reinhart clan waited for a half-hour until ceremonies began. Surely with 30 minutes to work with, Cubs reps could have gotten Reinhart onto the field in time. It’s not as if he needed a lot of rehearsal to simply hand over a ball.

You'd certainly think so. 15 minutes late? 30 minutes before the ceremony and the Cubs couldn't make an accomodation for a 100-year-old man who had just made a nearly 150-mile trip just to get to Wrigley Field?

Seriously, someone in Cubs management really dropped the ball on this one. Acting like this is remarkably tone-deaf and fan-unfriendly. I can't think of any possible explanation for this snub that's reasonable, but if the Cubs want to send me one, I'll post it.

Otherwise, I think Mr. Reinhart and his family should be invited back for the 100th-anniversary game next Wednesday -- at the Cubs' expense -- to participate in the ceremony that afternoon. Though I wouldn't blame him if he said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

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