David Ross grew up in Florida and played college baseball in his home state and Alabama. He played just two of his 15 big-league seasons in Chicago.
Since his retirement from playing, he’s been a special assistant in the Cubs front office and is now entering his second season as Cubs field manager.
I bring all this up because I came across this remarkable quote from Ross Wednesday:
Here’s Cubs manager David Ross, waxing poetic about Wrigley Field and having fans in the old ballpark and around the neighbohood once again ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/VMjVkDslbX— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 24, 2021
You know, for a guy who spent most of his life elsewhere, David Ross is one of us now. For lack of a better term, he “gets it.” He understands the vibe of Wrigley Field, what Cubs fans mean to the franchise, how the neighborhood seamlessly meshes with the ballpark and seemingly understands Cubs fan culture very well.
Beyond that, his statements about how players and coaches miss having fans in the stands ring true to me. It’s not just lip service. I’ve seen comments from many other professional athletes who played their 2020 seasons in empty ballparks, stadiums and arenas that tell me they really do understand that their jobs, their livelihoods, their sports don’t mean anything without us, the fans, present and cheering for them and creating an atmosphere that helps them perform. Here are some comments from Javy Báez about that:
“It was the worst, to be honest,” Báez said of playing without fans in the stands in 2020. “It was worse than facing a pitcher in spring training in the backfield.
“I didn’t like it at all.”
There won’t be a full house at Wrigley Field a week from today. Instead, due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, only 20 percent of the seats will be filled, around 8,200 in total. I’ll be one of them, returning as a fan to the ballpark for the first time since September 2019, nearly 18 months ago.
It will be a moment of joy and love for the game that we haven’t been able to express in a long, long time. And thanks to David Ross, we know how we’ll be received. It feels good to know that the players who we come to see and cheer for appreciate us.