What do you tell an innocent little girl who is just starting to develop an interest in professional sporting events?
Our granddaughter Harper is all of 17 months old and already has a favorite Cub hat that is so broken in that it looks like she may have been at the Don Cardwell no-hitter.
Her grandfather, yours truly, was at that game (May 15, 1960).
Until about the 5th inning.
You see, it was the second game of a double header against the Cardinals. The Cubs lost the first game and nothing much was shaking in the second game, which is understandable because it was going to be a no-hitter.
My brother and I were there with our neighbors. Their family included a 5-year-old girl. She sat through one baseball game just fine, as long as the treats kept flowing. But then after a break between games and 4 or 5 more innings of no action, she got antsy.
Actually, antsy doesn't begin to describe her state of mind. She was so crabby that she put her father, our driver, in a panic. He motioned for the whole bunch of us to get up and leave.
To make a long story short, we arrived home just in time for me to turn on the TV and see Moose Moran make a shoestring catch with two out in the top of the ninth to preserve Cardwell's no-no. I was distraught.
Actually, distraught doesn't begin to describe my state of mind. I have never gotten over it.
I have never left a sporting event early since.
Fifteen years later I was sitting in the Wrigley Field bleachers with 3 friends. The Cubs were (typically in those days -- these days, too!) down 3 or 5 or 7 runs in the 7th inning. It was September and cold. My friends wanted to retire to Ray's (now Murphy's) across the street from the bleachers entrance for a brandy with Old Style chaser.
I wouldn't leave. I told them that ever since the Don Cardwell episode I have never left any sporting event of any kind early. No matter what.
One of my friends looked at me and laughed. "Oh yeah?" he said. "Oh yeah? I was at that game. We stormed the field. I still have dirt from the mound in a jar at home."
I almost puked up my beer.
I can't tell you the number of amazing come-from-behind finishes I've witnessed! Once I even made a bunch of guys (I was their customer so they couldn't say no) stay for the final ten minutes of a Blackhawks game in spite of the Hawks being behind a Wayne Gretsky team by 3 goals. The Hawks came back and scored 4 goals to win in what all who were there remember as the best 10 minutes of hockey ever seen on Chicago Stadium ice.
Once, while on a business trip to New York, I sat out a two-hour rain delay at Shea Stadium to see the Mets come from behind and beat somebody -- don't remember whom, but it wasn't the Cubs. My Mets fan friend had long since gone home. There were about 50 people left in the stands.
That was the most fun possible for a Cub fan at Shea Stadium.
But, I've seen way many more horrible finishes, and stayed when the results of the game had been determined within the first 30 minutes of play.
I've annoyed a lot of people with my refusal to leave games. I've risked the health of small children forced to wait until the final whistle of a hopeless Bears-Packers game in December at Soldier Field.
Truth be known, it was my kids who refused to leave, and I was proud of them!
So my advice to my granddaughter? Her 3 older cousins are already brainwashed (we sat through a horrible Jets-Bills game last Sunday in New Jersey, freezing in the nose-bleeds).
Don't listen to Grandpa?
Sports just aren't that important?
Forget about the Cubs, especially?
Have fun ... arrive late if you want ... leave early if you must ... don't sweat it?
NO. Here's what she needs to learn, and no doubt will because her father was one of those frost-bitten little kids who refused to bail on the Bears-Packers game:
Never, ever, leave a game early.
If you do, you will regret it. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.
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.
Filed under: Uncategorized