Get Smart about the power of sport

by DGO Web Administrator

Well, it happened. The Cubs ended 108 years of futility and have unleashed the wrath of Cthulu. Listen to FLC professor and historian Duane Smith and musician Terry Double, both lifelong Cub fans, tell you about what’s so great about fandom.

How long have you been a Cubs fan?

Duane Smith: That’s a good story. My dad was a Japanese POW from 1941 to 45. Meanwhile, we lived in a little town in Illinois and I started listening to Cub games on the radio. When he got back home, he asked me what I’d like to do and I told him that I’d like to go to a Cub game. Over the next few years, we went to 15 games before they ever won one with me there. I thought I was a jinx! But I was hooked. I was in love.

Terry Double: [laughs] Seventy years! The last time they were in the World Series, 1945, was the year I was born. My family are all Cubs fans. I have five brothers and we’re a very close family, and so because the Cubs were in the Series, we decided to get together, watch some games and drink too much. It was like being in heaven!

Why the Cubs? Why a team with a century of futility to its credit?

DS: I have no rational, really. You couldn’t possibly think of a reason to follow them for as long as I have. They’ve lost so many games! My dad started it, I guess. I have no rational answer to your very good question, but I think it’s just my dad and that connection. I sort of liked getting a rough time about it, too, maybe. Having to defend my choice and my team. Kinda fun! It became an obsession. I have stacks of Cub yearbooks, baseball magazines, hats, here’s my throw pillow!

TD: I’ve always been a Cub fan. I was at the ballpark the day that the black cat got loose on the field! That was one of the supposed curses on the team, and I was there. I used to come home from school and Mom would be watching the game on WGN and she’d have a bottle of Meister Brau and the laundry and she’d be doing the ironing while rooting for the Cubs.

It was a historic series. What did you think of when they won Game 7?

DS: It was amazing. Game of the century. After all these years, I was really in a state of shock. I thought of my dad. I was all choked up. I thought of all of those people who followed the Cubs and wanted so badly to see them win it, but didn’t for whatever reason. I was one of the lucky ones. It was like Christmas. Maybe I thought about people who used to scoff at me, too. I wasn’t going to gloat, because I’d been gloated at for all these years. You know, I really felt badly for some of their great players, like Ernie Banks who didn’t get to see them win it, too.

TD: This is the best World Series I’ve ever seen. There’ve been some great ones certainly, but this was the best one I’ve ever seen. That seventh game was up and down and tied and – God! – just wonderful.

What’s important about sports?

DS: If you watch the news, you don’t come away real happy. With sports, you’re going to win some and be happy. But even if you lose, you know you’re going to be happy again. I don’t imagine Cleveland fans are too happy right now because it was a bitter defeat, but they’re a fine, fine team. They’ll have a day. Sports reflect life. You have good days, you have bad days; you struggle along and hope that you’ll come out better in the end. That’s not very deep or philosophical, but neither am I, basically. You’ve gotta have a break from what’s going on in the world and baseball’s mine.

TD: Nothing is important about sports, and everything is important about sports. I think it keeps your spirits up and it gets exciting when you’re team wins.

And why baseball?

DS: I love baseball in all aspects and I like to think that I helped a lot of people discover the beauty of the game. It’s a wonderful pastime. I’ve always wanted to hook kids on baseball. I taught a class at Fort Lewis called Baseball and the American Dream; I’ve given talks in town and written plenty of articles for the Herald. For a while there, I was covering Spring training for them, but then they figured out that I seemingly was only going to Cub games! I’ve been thinking ever since you called, “What am I going to say?” I wish that I had something brilliant or insightful to say, but I just enjoy baseball thoroughly, and if you’re not a baseball fan, boy, you can’t figure it out.

TD: Baseball is slower, it’s not ruled by a clock and it’s got a lot of strategy. You’ve got to know a little, got to read a little, even about stats and stat keeping. But if you invest in it, baseball becomes dynamic in a way that no other sport can match. It becomes riveting. You’re locked into every pitch. You’re locked into the moves that the manager is making. You’re locked into men on base and the possibility of a steal or a pick-off. It’s a beautiful game. It’s elegant. It’s exciting. It’s fast. It’s hard. It’s got it all.

Cyle Talley just wanted an excuse to talk Cubs with two very fine gentlemen. If there’s anything you’d like to GET SMART about, email him at: [email protected]


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