“What was the highlight of 2016 for you?” our Christmas party host asked around the dinner table. Beryl and I had the same responses, “First, the birth of 5th granddaughter, Gemma. Very close after that…the Cubs winning the World Series!!”
“Really?” some asked. “A sports event was a highlight?” Clearly, they were not aware of the cosmic significance of the event. At least not of its impact on the Glass clan. Why did this rank as a highlight of the year? Because it was of far more significance than just another sports event. For these three reasons:
Family Tradition Passed On
My dad, born in 1922 on the South Side of Chicago, staunch White Sox territory, was a rabid lifetime Cubs fan. He lived 90 years and never saw them win the Series. That’s a sports drought. Nevertheless, my siblings and I all picked up Cub fever from my dad. Of course, I passed the same affliction on to my kids. Thankfully, our son- and daughter-in-law have followed suit.
I fell in love with the North Siders in 1969; the year the Cubs put their entire infield into the All-star Game. The game roster didn’t allow additional room for two future Cub Hall of Famers. In the middle of August they had a 9 game division lead over the New York Mets. No matter; by the end of the season, they lost by 8 games.
So, for our family to see the Cubs actually in the series, then win it, was stupendously historic. Millions of Cub fans all over the world felt the same way. Like them, we mourned the lives of loved ones, in our case my dad, that had been lost before they ever saw a Series win. And like many thousands in the vicinity of Wrigley Field, my two sons, Alec and Conor, wrote their names and memories in chalk on the brick wall of the stadium set aside for that significant purpose. Conor wrote: “Make someday today.” Alec quoted my dad’s favorite cheer: “’Atta way!” Family tradition passed on.
By now many readers know the details of the years of futility for the Cubs. But for the unaware, a quick summary: the last time the Cubs had even been in the Series was 1945. The last time they won it was 1908; the longest span between championships of any team in major league sports, any sport.
With horrifically painful playoff failures in 1984 and again in 2003 the expectation, or at least nauseating fear, of failure hovered over every Cub fan in these playoffs.
This time, when the Cubs fell behind Cleveland 1-3 in series wins, the pit in every Cub fan stomach ran deep. When in the final game the Cubs blew 5-1 and then 6-3 leads, as Cleveland tied it up, every Cub fan silently had the thought, “Oh, so this is how they lose it this time. This will be the most painful story.”
So for the Cubs to come back from a rain delay, that visibly sapped the enormous amount of momentum Cleveland had built, to win in extra innings, the explosion of hope fulfilled in the hearts of Cub Nation was indescribable.
Unbridled Joy in Community
Long before the Cubs made it to the series, our family decided that if they did make it we’d all head to Chicago to watch the games together. We savored every game with our kids and granddaughters.
Alec, Conor and I decided to watch the final game (played in Cleveland), come what may, at a sports bar three blocks south of Wrigley Field: Sheffield’s. We were in the neighborhood long before the pub opened, soaking in the once-in-a-lifetime feel of electricity in the whole area.
We walked into Sheffield’s as they opened at 11, and waited endlessly (there are only so many chips, sandwiches, and beverages you can consume in one setting; we found the limit) for the 7:00 game time.
When Cubs’ lead-off batter, Dexter Fowler, hit a deep fly against the Indian’s pitcher, who had totally dominated the Cubs twice already in the series, Cub fans battled split-second emotions of “Holy cow, this can’t be…can it?!”…wait for it…“It is! It is! It’s a home run!”
Chaos ensued. (Watch it here.) That one stroke indicated that the summit of what seemed like a virtually insurmountable mountain a few days before, and even at the start of that last game, might actually be in sight.
When Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant, threw the final out in the 10th inning and the game was won, Sheffield’s exploded in complete pandemonium. The three of us screamed, hugged and bounced for an unknown length of time. We high-fived countless new best friends.
Then we joined the massive throng filling the streets heading to the Wrigley shrine as if on a spiritual quest. I don’t know the official number in the streets, but it was the largest crowd I’d ever been in. It was certainly hundreds of thousands, or more.
The utter exuberance and camaraderie shared by complete strangers, and even by the 4000 police in the streets, was simply indescribable. Community, joy, transcendence.
It may have been just a sports event to many people. It went far beyond that for the Glass Family. No doubt about it, it was a highlight of the year. In fact, it was a highlight of a lifetime.
I just wish Dad could have been there.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, and their daughter Gemma. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.