This summer I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with an older gentleman, a man who just turned 74 years old and who has been a Cub fan for over sixty years. He attends many home games as a long-time season ticket holder, and recently told me a bittersweet story about how he almost (yes, almost) got in to game six of the 1945 World Series.
Almost? Here, let him tell you in his own words:
Being excited was one thing, but I kept pestering my mom and dad about finding a way to get a ticket to go to one of the World Series games when they played in Chicago. I didn't quite understand the fact that 50 cents meant a lot more than we could afford for something as frivolous as a ball game when that amount of money could buy things needed more than just for fun.
The night before game six, I asked mom to let me use the money in my piggy bank to go. I had already counted the coins and had enough to buy a ticket and pay 4 cents each way on a street car to go to Wrigley Field. As you might guess, she said absolutely NO. I went to bed feeling very sorry for myself and made up my mind to go against her admonition. About 3:30 or 4 in the morning I got up, got dressed, made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, took all the coins from my bank and left the house to catch the Clark St. street car, from our home in Rogers Park. It took about 25 or 30 minutes to reach the ball park; in fact, the streetcar conductor asked me if I was old enough to be out at that hour and I told him I was going to help a cousin deliver morning newspapers. When I reached the park the bleacher ticket line started at the corner of Sheffield & Waveland (where the old bleacher box office was located), headed west to Clark, continued south to just about Addison and came back around down the other side of Clark back to Waveland, and about a quarter of a block east on Waveland where I got in line. When the box office opened somewhere around 10 or 10:30 I really believed I would get in without a problem. However, as time went on and the line moved very slowly I got worried about getting a ticket. Sure enough, when I finally reached the box office the man in front of me got the last one or two tickets to be sold.
I was totally heartbroken! I couldn't believe that this had happened. All I could do was to head back to Clark Street. I got on the first streetcar and cried like a baby the entire way home (a man on the streetcar was kind enough to ask me if I was hurt or sick). I was crying for two reasons: first, because I came so close to getting that ticket and second, because I was afraid of what my mother was going to say!
When I came in the front door mom took my sandwich bag from me without saying a word. She put it down by the radio in the dining room, turned the radio on, poured a glass of milk for me, and said, "When dad gets home, he wants to talk to you". Well, dad got home and the only thing he said was something to the effect that please remember to listen to mom or him when they say what to do or not to do -- and then said how sorry he was that I had been so disappointed by not being able to get into the game.
I believe the Cubs did win that day. [Al's note: his memory is right. The Cubs did win game six, in twelve innings; the last World Series game they won, and the only one they won in Chicago in 1945.]
Why am I telling you this story now? Because this gentleman has not been in the bleachers in, he tells me, nearly sixty years; after not making it on that World Series day in 1945, he was there once or twice later in the '40s, not since.
He's joining us out there tomorrow night. It's time. Go Cubs.