I live in the land of no major league baseball teams, also known as Nebraska.
Sure, there are little league families, college baseball fans, and a sprinkling of loyal KC Royals fans. There’s always an exception to the rule; I am aware of that.
But I’m from Chicago, and I was born a Cubs fan.
Hands down, my beloved adopted home state of Nebraska can’t beat that. At least, not with baseball culture. College football is another story, for another day.
I grew up winning Cubs tickets from our library’s summer reading program. Talk about setting the bar high—now my kids win pencils, key chains, and a coupon for free pizza. To be fair, times have changed, and I doubt even my Illinois library can afford handing out tickets these days. Still, those tickets helped shape my love for baseball, so they’re worth mentioning.
My brother and I never went to a Cubs game without our baseball gloves. What if this was our year to catch a foul ball? Our parents saturated our young brains with daily Cubs radio broadcasts, while our grandparents made sure we were never without a Cubs shirt or Cubs hat. For me, Wrigley Field is synonymous with family, childhood, and a sense of belonging. So, when I met the man who would become my husband, where else would I take him, but to a Cubs game?
Bless his heart, Derek knew nothing about baseball. (I’m not from the south, but can I still say, “Bless his heart?”) I taught him everything I knew, including Harry Caray’s unique telling of all things Chicago Cubs. I bought him a Cubs hat. We sat at the game and ate too many peanuts. We watched every pitch, every hit, and cheered wildly when the Cubs won. I even brought my baseball glove. The one thing I could not teach him? The love of the game. I guess his brain needed to be saturated with Cubs baseball when he was young, and that was one thing I could not give him.
When our first son was born, I thought to myself, “This is my chance!” I dressed him in Cubs outfits, provided by his grandparents, of course. I bought him a t-ball set, played lots of games with him in our backyard, and signed him up for little league when he was old enough. You know what? It worked! This summer, in his deep 16 year old voice, he said to me, “Mom, the Cubs are really good this year. This is their year.” Oh, my heart! My boy gets it. He really, really gets it.
As of this writing, my beloved Chicago Cubs are in the post season. We listen to every single game on my phone, thanks to a great MLB app. If I close my eyes, I feel like I’m back in Chicagoland. But I would rather keep them open, and take in the sights of my sons—and my husband, bless his heart—cheering the Cubs on to victory.
After all, this is what being a Cubs fan is all about: sharing the love of the game, an undying loyalty, and a sense of belonging with those dearest to me. Born that way, or joined through marriage—we are part of Chicago Cubs Nation. Go, Cubs, Go!