First and foremost, I must give credit to the late, great radio man, Paul Harvey, who inspired this piece. As a kid growing up on a farm, we only picked up a few radio stations, so it was hard to miss Harvey's iconic voice telling me the rest of the story on a daily basis. But it wasn't until I saw a certain Super Bowl commercial that I heard what I believe to be the legend's greatest words.
A Dodge Ram ad during The Big Game utilized "So God Made a Farmer," a speech Harvey delivered at a Future Farmers of America convention in 1978. It was done in the name of commercialism, but that didn't stop the tears from welling in my eyes. You see, the words echoing from the television in that rich baritone struck to my core as both a country boy and a Cubs fan.
My Grandpap is a man I'll spend the rest of my life trying to be, and he's the man I think of when someone asks me why I'm a Cubs fan. Sure, he enjoyed watching the Indiana Hoosiers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but it was the Cubs you'd find on his TV all summer long.
Baseball was in his blood; he had even spent some of his days as a teen driving the bus for his older brother's semi-pro team. He was a patient man who never raised his voice in anger and who supplied his grandsons with seemingly endless supplies of crackers and pop as they watched the Cubs on WGN. A man who ran the same International Harvester tractors that were prominently displayed in that Dodge commercial.
So I hope you'll forgive me for allowing an ode to excess to squeeze saline from my over-active tear ducts (maybe I could teach Mike Olt a thing or two). But when it comes to my Grandpap and the Cubs, I get a little emotional. Being a Cubs fan isn't just about getting drunk at Wrigley (although sometimes you need a few barley sodas to help you cope). It's not about loving a loser or losing love (patience, maybe, but never love).
It's about family, fortitude, and frustration. And so I pay homage to Mr. Paul Harvey, my grandfather, and all the long-suffering supporters who have gone before us in describing why God made a Cubs fan.
And on Opening Day, God looked down at the game of baseball and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a Cubs fan.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up for a day game after a night game, drink coffee, fight crowds on Lake Shore or the Red Line, drink Old Style, eat a brat and then fight through traffic to get home late.” So God made a Cubs fan.
“I need somebody with a heart strong enough to withstand decades of futility and hands soft enough to teach the next generation to play catch. Somebody to sing the stretch, tame falling concrete, come home hungry for success, have to wait until the playoffs are over and tell themselves that their team will be there real soon -- and mean it.” So God made a Cubs fan.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a hopeful playoff contender. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.” I need somebody who can shape a bat from an ash tree, wear a rally cap without irony, who can reconfigure a jersey with duct tape and a sharpie. And who, whether it’s Spring Training or mid-September, will watch his team lose, then, pain’n from ‘bleacher back,’ tune in again the next day.” So God made a Cubs fan.
God had to have somebody willing to carry a child so they could run double speed to get into Wrigley ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in the middle of Clark St. when he sees the red marquee. So God made a Cubs fan.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to put up with more than a century of coming up short, yet vocal enough to express opinions on the business of the team, from the minors to the rooftops, who will stop his day for an hour to talk Cubs baseball with a stranger. It had to be somebody who’d stand and shout when his player rounded third, or when he missed the cut-off man. Somebody to buy, cry, try, live and die, and hope and pray and wish and curse and button the jersey and fly the ‘W’ flag and use the trough in the bathroom and look forward to another trip to a baseball cathedral.
“Somebody who’d bale a fanbase together with the rawhide laces of a baseball glove, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with sadly smiling eyes, when his son or daughter says they want to spend their life ‘cheering for the Cubs like dad does.’” So God made a Cubs fan.
If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and click on at least one of the two links above. The first is the actual commercial and the second has the text version of Harvey's speech. It may not strike the same chord with you as it did me, but I think it’s important to understand the source material. I only hope that as my own kids get older, they can see their team succeed on a greater level than their great-Grandpap was able to.
Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others. And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.