Wapsie Experience (10/13/16)

Ken Donnelly · Wednesday, October 12, 2016
It is a fact that no one currently alive was in the stands on October 14, 1908, when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in four games to one. It has been 71 years since the Cubbies have competed in any World Series.

Sunday afternoon (October 9) as I write this column, the North Siders are only nine victories away from a World Series championship. Back-to-back playoff victories at Wrigley this weekend have placed them just one game away from a sweep at San Francisco Monday night in the best 3 of 5 series.

Next the men at Addison and Clark will need to win a 4 of 7 National League championship; followed by a best 4 of 7 against the American League champion. I hope it's the Boston Red Sox in a Fenway versus Wrigley match; pitting a team who has conquered a "curse" against one who still needs to do so!

I traveled to Chicago this past Friday to experience the excitement of "Wrigleyville", sometimes referred to as "Boys Town", but officially known as Lake View. An unlikely trio arrived in the Windy City this cool fall day: Barack Obama for several fundraisers, Kanye West for a gig and Ken Donnelly for the readers of the Index. Our paths did not cross; just as well.

My plan, subject to the editing of my editor, Jacob Lane, also a Cubs fan, is to be in Chicago when the World Series begins on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and share with you the experience. I can stay in town for several days as there are many teacher colleagues of the past, and three cousins on the Gatens side of the family, that could put me up for the night if asked.

I have no illusions of actually being within “The Friendly Confines" for any games. Friday night, standing room only tickets were going for $142 to $152. A couple of those three story brownstones that overlook the field on Shefield Avenue were offering unlimited food and drink for a $350 or $500 donation; with the proceeds going to a charity that would train dogs for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A local note, our recently retired postmaster, J. Peter Rehling, watched the game from one of the rooftop seats just outside of Wrigley Field.

"History Starts Now" signs could be found in the windows of many a Clark Street bar; cars roved the streets with small Cubs logo flags the same size as black and gold ones found in Iowa City on a football Saturday.

It would be the thrill of a lifetime to be in the happily delirious crowd that would swarm into the streets around Wrigley Field when the World Series is won; 42,000 from the field itself and how many thousands pouring out of Murphy's Bleacher Bums, Sluggers, Cubby Bear, Ginger Man, Glascotts, Monsignor Murphys and dozens of other pubs.

I lived in Chicagoland in the 1980s and 90s when the Bulls won their four NBA championships; that string of dominance by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc and Steve Kerr under Coach Phil Jackson brought three million souls of Chicago and the four million more of Cook County together for something we could all share; hard work leading to victory…

…a victory by our team.

I get the same charge every year when I go to Cedar Falls and the Dome for state high school football championships year after year after year after year after year after year!

A good example of the unity and the exuberant joy that a sports team can bring to a myriad of persons who have never met, and have little in common, was the night in the 1990s when the bartender at Monsignor Murphy's brought on trays jello shots "on the house" to perhaps 75 fans gathered to watch our Bulls win yet another crown.

There were north-siders, I was a south-sider; men and women, black and white, Asian, Hispanic and gay, young and old, all of us saluting with a shot to our Bulls.

I am hopeful that very early in this coming November, Chicagoans will celebrate a sports event that hasn't happened since the presidency of Roosevelt, Teddy, and World War I was not even on the horizon. I wonder if Rodger Johnston, Hazel Romaine and Zelma Burr's parents had even married yet.

One last story from Chicago this past Friday; I was traveling on North Avenue through the Austin neighborhood on the northwest side of town at about 2:30 p.m. and traffic was heavily backed up on this 4-lane street; the street was blocked for three blocks ahead of me, a crime scene, a 46-year-old man had been seriously wounded on a CTA bus! WELCOME TO CHICAGO!

Dear readers; by the time you read my account of how the Cubs fared in the World Series in November, both the presidential election and the World Series will be over. Who will win both contests?

For the month of December, the Index will be on news stands on Wednesday, Dec. 7, which happens to be the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The last column of the year will be on events in 1941 in West Liberty leading up to the war and the immediate local reaction to this dastardly attack.
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