Young vs. Old: How generations of Fans Remember Icons

I was driving in the car the other day from Denver to Fort Collins when I really started to get into my 90s throwback station on Spotify. Somewhere in-between the Backstreet Boys and Blink 182, GoCubsGo found a way to break up the boy bands. As most Cubs/Chicagoans listen to the lyrics, its inevitable to think about lost family members, childhood memories at Wrigley Field and above all else the success of the 2016 season.

May be it was the recent Cubs victory that got me fired up or my dad CONSTANTLY telling me old stories from back in the day, but I had to call him right that second and tell him about all the feelings I was having. Which luckily for myself, traffic was not that bad because it was becoming a more emotional drive to work than I was anticipating.

While I am just 23-years old and my dad….well lets just say he can probably recall when silent movies were all the rage. I noticed during this life changing car ride that our memories of past and current players differ just a little bit. The way players are talked about on TV and Radio isn’t like the old days, everyone needs to know the who,what,when,where and why about Anthony Rizzo, Michael Jordan and of course the status of Chris Sale and a pair of scissors. There is no such thing as privacy, athletes are not just the people we droll over on the field/ice or court anymore, they are Starbucks drinking, American Airlines flying, and Instagraming celebrities.

Because of my age and my dads willingness to ramble after a few cold brews, I have had the privilege to hear bedtimes stories of Harry Carey, Michael Jordan, Tony Esposito, and Mike Ditka. It was a game of telephone told to my dad, who then told me with the expectation of telling my own kids when the time comes.

Below I have created a list of some of my and my dads favorite or most memorable Chicago sports Icons and how our memories differ. Hopefully It will make you appreciate the older generation of fans attention to detail. After all, my dad has a hard time remembering my birthday every year(which dad if you are reading this…it is October 20th) but if you asked him to name the number of wins Maddux had in his career, the number of outs Santo got at third base or even the shot count for Kane last season, it would be a no-brainer.

Now thats a die hard fan.

 

Ron Santo 

HALEIGH: He will forever be ‘This Old Cub’ in my eyes, I can remember listening to him religiously on Radio WGN. The way he commentated Cubs games was just as good if not more exciting than watching it live. Its hard to recreate the images he was able to paint, I recall one time he went on and on about a foul ball landing on his car windshield, it was hysterical, but above all else, nothing could beat ‘going, going, gone.’ Ron touched the hearts of so many Chicago and MLB fans, as a result his passing was hard on so many. Just a stand up guy.

DALE:  Most remember is him striking out for 3rd out against Sandy Koufax(best pitcher in baseball) who had just walked the bases loaded, if I remember right Dodgers won 1-0. On a brighter note Santo’s leaping and clicking his heels early in the 1969 season meant another Cubs victory. Santo made all the tough plays at 3rd, he got dirty!

Sammy Sosa

HALEIGH: He was the man. Everyone wanted to sit in the right field bleachers and ask him how many outs there were, like clock work he would turn around and hold the number up in the air with a little grin. The way he hit the ball was indescribable, followed by the hop, its was picture perfect overtime. And who could forget the run he did when stepping onto the field, he dazzled the crowd time and time ago. The corked bat incident broke my heart but I never got rid of his memorabilia and my draw string backpack with his name on it.

DALE: One of the greatest I saw play baseball. My brother had season tickets from 2003, so we got about 7 games a year, almost every year we would go 7-0 or 7-1, or 6-2, and in those games when it came to 6-9th inning Sosa would come through with the big hit. Never saw Banks hit a Home Run, but saw plenty from Sosa. Loved to be in right field and watch Sammie run out to Right field and tip his cap to the fans. Cubs management and Major League Baseball should recognize how great he was, he should be honored for all he did for the Cubs! I believed because the Cubs failed Sammie in my opinion was used as the fall guy!

Greg Maddux 

HALEIGH: From the first day I watched him play, to the last, he was unstoppable. I can remember sitting in section 209, row 15, seat 10 the game he could have had his 300th victory but ended up losing last into the 8th-inning. He is someone I feel many fans forget about but deserve all the credit for what he did for the Cubs 2004-06.

DALE: Loved him before he went to the Braves. When he came back saw him pitch for his 300 victory early in game he stole 2nd, then with a lead Cubs did not take him out until too late, he pitched on the corners, silky smooth.

Mike Ditka

HALEIGH: Its sad to say, but one of the fondest memories I have of Ditka is him on the big screen in “Kicking and Screaming”. When he buys Will Ferrell a half-caff coaches the soccer team in the iconic Bears vest, and smokes the cigars in the house… its hard to forget that as a kid. He is a great legend and coach. Plus his stache is pretty great.

DALE: Loved him when he played tight end for Bears, hard runner, good blocker, good pass catcher. As a coach except for 1984-1985 we lost too many playoff games at home when Walter Payton should have carried the ball more! Someone I would like to hang out with!

  Frank Thomas

HALEIGH: I remember when my dad used to say he was related to Frank Thomas and kids from my class would look…anyways. He brought a tremendous light to the south side when he stepped up to the plate, setting the pace for other batters and the expectation to only swing at the good ones. The White Sox could really use a hitter like him right about now.

DALE: My favorite Sox player when I only watched them to see Frank play! Never swung at a bad pitch! Should have won 1994 World Series, strike year. A pure hitter, clutch performer

Patrick Kane

HALEIGH: At the last Stanley Cup rally I was close enough to see Kane speak without having to look up at the video board. That moment allowed me to see the pure dedication and passion he has for the city and the entire NHL. He truly is a standup guy with impressive hand-eye coordination. Nobody in the NHL compares to Kane.

DALE: Sneaky quick, thought he was losing it 4 years ago, better now than ever. Always hustling, eyes always ready to make that breakaway, Mr. Clutch. When Dale Tallon drafted Toews in 2006 and Kane 2007 I knew like  we drafted Jordan, championships would come our way, 3 so far. Thanks Mr. Tallon

Ernie Banks

HALEIGH: When I heard of his passing, it was hard not to get emotional. He was the one everyone wanted to meet, shake hands with and if you were lucky to throw a ball with. When he was at the park he said hello to everyone, Banks represented the Cubs proudly until the day he died. I recall watching him walking to go sing the 7th-inning stretch, he was up above by the suites, waving to everyone below with the biggest smile imaginable, shouting “Lets play Two.” I will never forget that day.

DALE: Mr.Cub, I saw him in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when he played shortstop, the games always against the Giants, we always lost and Banks did not do much. Not sure if I ever saw him hit a homer, good glove man at 1st base. He always came to play every day. A person I wish I could have met!

Paul Konerko

HALEIGH: I do blame Konerko and the White Sox for my sister changing teams during the 2005 World Series, but she was weak and he was a solid player. Paul came through for the team when they needed him too, but also had plenty of let downs as well. It got old seeing all the Konerko shirts at school, wonder where they are now…

DALE: Didn’t see him play much, until 2005 playoffs, he was great, seemed like if I sat in my car, the Sox did great, I got home when Sox had bases loaded, daughters said stay in car I did and Konerko homered. Always came to play!

Tony Esposito

HALEIGH: During every post season run, Tony is there cheering on the Hawks. He defended the goal for the Hawks with such precision and poise. I always loved hearing my parents talk about the way he played, and the joy they had when they had season tickets.

DALE: Lost home Stanley Cup final when I was in Vietnam, when with a 2-0 lead Bobby Hull hit the cross bar. After Bobby Hull left Hawks didn’t have greatest teams but Esposito was always awesome! In 1973 went to about 20 home games, was a pleasure watching him defend our Goal! Heard he loves to fish, love to go fishing with the great Tony O!

Ryne Sandburg

HALEIGH: To this day, I don’t know why the Cubs didn’t keep Sandburg within the organization. His face is iconic, making it hard for him to attend a game without everyone around swarming him. I have watched games online from the 1984 season, he was an All-Star, just so fluid and smart player on the diamond.

DALE:  Saw the Cubs/Cardinals game in 1984 when he homered in 9th and 10th inning to tie the game Cubs eventually won, slick fielder, great clutch hitter!A personal hero.

Harry Caray

HALEIGH: “Cubs Win, Cubs Win”. Its just never gets old, especially this season with as many wins as the Cubs have had. Though many relate him to the SNL skit of Will Ferrell, everyone should Youtube one of his broadcasts and trademark singing “Take me out to the Ballgame” because no one to this day can do it quite like Harry.

DALE: In the 1950’s my uncle Jack Dickerson in Kansas said listening to Harry made the game more exciting than being there. Jack had said went to a game at St. Louis with no radio and the game was just boring, Harry made the game come alive! When he became the Sox broadcaster with Jimmy Piersall they made the Broadcasts and the Sox respectable. When the Sox got better seems players complained and for less money he came to my favorite team the Cubs. He made the 7th inning stretch of singing “Take me out to the Ballgame” into a North Side Tradition. Would have liked to sit and hear him talk about all the greats he had seen!

 Michael Jordan

HALEIGH: Most kids from the Chicagoland area can relate, everyone wanted to get their picture taken with his front gate. One day I actually went with my sister and took a picture next to the Iconic 23. As an athlete, no one could compare to Jordan, he was tall, fast, had great ball movement on top of the classic motion picture “SpaceJam”. The one time I got to see Jordan play, was worth every second. We were in the very last row of the Uniter Center, constantly getting bumped from behind as people walked by with trays of snacks. While the view wasn’t the best in house, it was still Jordan down there and that is all that mattered.

 DALE: Every year we sat and hoped our teams would draft the right players, when the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan I cried. I went to his 1st game at the old Chicago Stadium, day of game bought tickets center court 1st row, 1st balcony, told some season ticket holders soon tickets would be hard to get. Soon all tickets were also very expensive! He was Mr. Clutch, Mr. Cool, Mr. Everything, He is the Greatest! I would love to golf with him(not for money)

 Walter Payton

HALEIGH: Walter wasn’t just a Chicago great, to this day he is known all across the U.S. as one of the greatest running-backs of all time. Being out in Colorado, I have been to house parties with several different style Payton jerseys hanging from the walls. He was beloved by all that got to see him play, truly an inspiration for young football players.

 DALE: Most exciting player ever!Walter ran around, over and through every team the Bears played. In 1984 at Bears family night line to get autograph with Payton was too long so got Jim McMahon’s autograph which is great but a mistake!

Jim McMahon

HALEIGH:I haven’t found a single article in my life-time that didn’t boast McMahon as one of the greatest. He played with such precision, I mostly remember my dad saying how sad it was when he watched him get hurt. “Its sad, Its just said” my dad would say over and over.

DALE: Toughest, Grittiest, Quarterback I ever saw, the games he played against San Francisco in 1983, and 1984, and against Raiders, Minnesota were awesome. I always believed the illegal hit by Charles Martin of the Packers ruined Jim’s arm so even after operation he did not have the arm strength. He came into games hurt to relieve another hurt Quarterback, 1st play Touchdown. Would love to hang out with Jim, and be that cool!

Scottie Pippen

HALEIGH: Pippen was the right hand man, the pass and go man and the man to do it all with Jordan. The Bulls knew they had something great and it resulted with 6 championships. Despite the number of  times he stole the ball from the other teams best player, he is often remembered as Jordan’s shadow, not enough credit given to him.

DALE: Without Michael Jordan, Scottie would have been Mr. Basketball in Chicago. Another draft pick that resulted in 6 championships. The Bulls got Pippin in a trade after Seattle stole him from the Bulls, so Seattle got our player and drafter choices which is what they wanted…their loss. He did all the right plays, mister defense, another personal favorite, clutch personified!

Here is the final word from my dad.

I love winners, clutch performers, and athletes that give 100%, when I see that, I’m in your camp forever. In all sports there is only one winner but if you play the game with everything you got even in losing you will always have my support!

Dale L. Hamblin…

As you can see he signed this piece as if he was J.K. Rowling.

 

Leave a comment