A Letter to Harry Caray

Dear Harry,

It’s been over 19 years since you passed away.  I miss you, like every other Cub fan.  You should have seen them last year.  They won Harry, they really won.  It was incredible to see.  It was as close to a crosstown classic as I think we’ll ever see, they face the Cleveland Indians.  The Indians as you’re well aware were as Series-starved as the Cubs, and both teams rose to the occasion, going to game seven.  I know what you’re thinking.  Did the Cubs have some struggles winning that Game Seven?  Yes, they did.  Did they seem to lose it at one point?  Yes, they did.  But the main thing is that they hung in the game, finally took advantage of the opportunities that tended to allude us for 108 years, and pulled it off!

It was such a great moment Harry.  I can safely speak for the Cubs’ Faithful when I say we wonder who you would have called it.  The breaking balls being fouled off, in desperation to keep the At-Bat alive.  The way the balls hung in the air on-line drives and pop-ups, in that late October air.  How both towns on the Great Lakes seemed to be inviting chaos into games, every time mist was seen in the air.  The sprinting catches, the stolen bases, the towering home runs – always timed well I might add.

It was so great to watch.  It wasn’t as great with you calling it though.  That was a letdown.  I tried imaging in my mind, listening to you call every game.  It was tough to do.  The world is lot different in 2017 than it was in the late 90’s.  There’s much more distraction now than at any other time in our existence, and trying to envision a Harry-called World Series was tough for me.  I could hear you shouting, “Holy Cow!” and many of your trademark phrases, but the whole game was too much to construct.

A lot has changed at Wrigleyville too.  Someone else may have written to you that the Ricketts Family purchased the Cubs, and they have a vision of modernizing the club and its footprint, to be more in line with other MLB clubs.  They’ve been buying the rooftops across the streets of Waveland and Sheffield.  They seem poised to take over all the businesses for a block around the stadium, and turn Wrigleyville into a small faux town.  It’s crazy to think about.  On one hand, it’s the way of business.  On the other, it’s like being in the heart of Cubs nation is going to lose some of its identity and character.

Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but I think we lost a lot of that identity when you left.  You spoke for us Harry.  That was what made the games so good.  You weren’t bashful to say exactly what was going on, in the game, with the team, even with the organization.  That was helpful.  That was therapeutic.

Now we’re in the midst of a sub-.500 season.  We’ve seen these before, we’ll see them again.  We’re sitting in second place right now Harry.  We’re four and half back of Milwaukee.  Can you imagine, Milwaukee??  Yes, a lot has changed since you were here Harry.

On sports radio around the country there’s talk of disappointment with Cubs fans from the rest of the sports fan community.  Apparently, we’re not as supportive in the World Series “hang over” as other fan bases have been.  We’re not staying the length of the games at Wrigley (which I think is made up), and according to the “experts” when they talk with us, we’re antsy.  We want to repeat as World Series champions, and because we’re less than optimistic, that means we’ve lost our “Cubs edge” and are now imploding.

So much for experts.  How soon they forget that we waited 108 years for this.  They’re comparing us to fan bases that won a Series, and then had to wait 20.  Or teams that won that haven’t been around as long as the DH rule argument.  They’re making us out to be impatient, sour, and most of all, ungrateful.

I haven’t lost my faith Harry, and the Cubs fan I talk to haven’t either.  Sure, there’s the usual mistrust of baseball happenings that all Cub fans have had for as long as I can remember.  One-hundred and eight years of waiting teaches you a lot of patience, but it also causes you to dial into your cause tightly.  I’d argue any day that Cubs fans are more knowledgeable about the pace and chance of any given game compared to other fans.  Sure, other fans may know about types of plays, and left vs. right match ups, and all those technical aspects.  But I don’t believe other baseball fans have had to sit idly by as a sure thing melts for no other reason than just the “Baseball Gods” interpretation of the laws of averages.

But away from all that,  I think without you Harry, the baseball media doesn’t understand us, or how we think, or how we see baseball, overall or day-to-day.  Harry, they’re lost on us without you.  And the World Series win polarized it.

I wish you were here to quiet the supposed storm.  I wish that voice of reason, that seemed too blunt for other teams, was here to explain us to everyone else.  We have no less love for our team today than we ever have.  You know that, but somehow all these other media types don’t get it.

I wish you’d been here for the parade Harry.  You would have been ecstatic.  You would have been a king in his den.  You would have been as excited, and curious, about the future of the Cubs.

This turned out a lot longer than I wanted it to be.  I have a lot more to say, but I know you’re busy.  I hear Lou is starting, and Babe is swinging, but up there they’ve got nothing on Ernie, Ron, and Hack.  But the one thing that is for sure, no one up there sings like you.

I miss you Harry.  I wish you were still here.

Published by Matthew Ballantyne

I'm Matthew, and I write. I've worked hard in my career, and it's granted me a lot of access to the true character in people, which I now use to create stories for you.

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