My Great Grandmother Stemwell was a German immigrant living in Milwaukee, and her English wasn't very good. My dad, who had moved to Chicago, suggested that she listen to the Cubs games on the radio to help her language skills. Milwaukee at that time (late 1930s) had no major league baseball team, (the Brewers were a minor league team then), so lots of people up there were Cubs fans because they could hear the games on WGN radio.
By the time I knew my great grandmother, her English was pretty good, but I didn't learn until later years how the Cubs had helped her. She became a die-hard fan, listening to every game. When my dad would call her he'd ask her how she was, and she'd invariably reply "Terrible, terrible, the damn Cups, they lost again."
We all became Cubs fans, my younger brother Billy in particular. He loved going to games, and was a follower of Billy Buckner - he'd moved out west to California, but watched as many games as he could on WGN, the first "super station. " He was glad when they started playing night games at home - made it much easier for him to watch. I lost my little brother 8 years ago, sadly because of a medical condition that was totally curable but his insurance didn't cover the test he needed and he died before he could see his daughters grow up and his beloved Cubs win a world series. I bought him a brick outside Wrigley, we go and visit it whenever we go to games.
My dad was a Cubs fan from his Milwaukee days, and would have loved seeing them win it all. He was great friends with John Allyn, who owned the White Sox in the 1960s and early 1970s, and he was also friends with Jack Brickhouse, with whom he played golf occasionally. We would go to the White Sox games and sit in the owners box at Comiskey, but it was never as much fun as sitting with the Cub fans in the bleachers at Wrigley. One time, when I was 18 and working a summer job up in Michigan, I'd come home for a family funeral and was flying back to Petoskey on a Tuesday morning. John Allyn wanted my dad to play golf, but he said he was taking me to the airport and couldn't. So Mr. Allyn said "I'll fly her and Marge (his wife) and Nancy (my mom) in the Sox plane, then you can play golf with me." So I, a huge Cubs fan, had to fly to Michigan in a plane that said Chicago White Sox on it. Hard to live down.
Watching the playoffs this year nearly gave me a coronary. The guys didn't make it easy, for themselves or for their legion of fans. When Kris Bryant threw the ground ball to Tony Rizzo at first for the last out of the World Series, I had tears running down my cheeks, and I said, incredulously, to my husband, "they won!" How much my great grandmother, my dad and my brother would have cheered -- I'd like to think that somehow they were watching, perhaps through me or my children who were also glued to the TV. I honestly didn't think they would win it all in my lifetime -- thank you, to the Ricketts family who spent the money to get a great team, and to the players who played their hearts out.
Grandma Stemwell would have to change their name, from the Damn Cups to the Great Cups, or the Super Cups - or probably she'd still call them the Damn Cups, but she'd be beaming from ear to ear.