THE CHICAGO CUBS, MY DAD, AND ME

A story filled with love, loss, and a lot of waiting until next year.
  1. My dad, born and raised on the southside of Chicago, chose to root for the Cubs.
    He is the third born of seven siblings. They are all rabid White Sox fans, as is the case with most Southsiders. Young Mike Morrissey decided he didn't care about doing what others expected of him: a theme often repeated throughout his life. I asked him why the Cubs. He said, "I don't know. I just liked them better." He has an original membership to the Diehard Cubs fan club.
  2. 1984, he really thought it was going to happen. The Cubs were going to take it all the way.
    It was the first Cubs postseason he'd ever experienced. The day the broadcast said live from Wrigley Field, the National League Championship Series, he cried. When I called him to talk about this, he named off the entire starting line up, and asked me to say that Rick Sutcliffe came to the Cubs in the middle of June, won 16 games, and became his idol.
  3. They lost to the Padres.
    Dad is still very salty about this. Because the Cubs didn't have lights they got screwed around and didn't get their final home game. When it was over, Dad was so distraught he couldn't go to work the next morning.
  4. But Mike Morrissey is a loyal guy, and he continued to wear his Cubby blue.
    His siblings busted his balls about it all the time. Mind you, the Sox went from 1918-2004 without winning a World Series. Even with their recent-ish 2005 title, they still they can't fill a ballpark, which is a point my dad wants me to make sure I include. Pepper that sentence with a few F bombs and you have his exact sentiments.
  5. I am the youngest of five siblings.
    My sister Rose and I loved the Cubs from day one and accepted no other team into our hearts, despite teasing from Dad's siblings and their second generation Sox fan spawns. My oldest sibling John became a Sox fan in his teen years- a result of some feud with my dad. My sister Liz has always remained indifferent. My sister Raina married a Cardinals fan 😱
  6. Growing up, we went to Cubs games at least twice a year.
    My dad would show up to my school and pull me out of class. He'd tell the office I "had an appointment up north." The first time he did it I asked, "What appointment?" And he just repeated, in the blankest voice possible, "An appointment up north." We'd go and he'd buy standing room tickets, then instruct Rose and I to play it cool while we musical chaired for the best unclaimed seats in the house.
  7. It became tradition to go to opening day.
    The picture is from 2007. We did not play musical chairs for those seats, because Rose moving to Colorado for school meant more money for less people. One of the biggest perks of being the youngest child is that for a time, you become the only child.
  8. But let's backpedal to 2003: The magic season
    In Dusty we Trusty. Rose and I watched every game we could. We followed stats in the Chicago Sun Times. I was hopelessly in love with center fielder Corey Patterson and ripped out sports section photos of him to tape up on my wall. He tore his ACL midseason, and I cried and cried. Seven years later, I tore my ACL doing gymnastics, so I now understand why he didn't come back as strong as he was, but at the time, I was straight up MAD at him.
  9. I was at the bowling alley when the Cubs clinched the NLDS.
    My parents were on a bowling league and Rose and I often got dragged along in lieu of finding a babysitter. It was a perfect place to be that night because the game was on every TV and the place was filled with disgruntled White Sox fans. We won and I rubbed my joy in everyone's faces by literally backflipping down the long walkway above the lanes.
  10. The path to the NLCS seemed crystal clear.
    To my 13 year old self, it was as good as done. I saw it as Florida Marlins=snooze, Cubs=excitement. Surely the universe would agree. And for games 2-4, the universe did. All we needed was one more win. Marlins took game 5. Fine. We were still up 3-2.
  11. Game 6 rolled around.
    My mom allowed my dad to take out $500 dollars for scalping tickets, which was unheard of in the Morrissey house, but she knew the season had been so important to Dad, Rose, and me. We took the train up to Wrigley, decked out in our finest, ready to watch history. It was immediately clear we didn't have enough money to get in.
  12. Dad dropped Rose and me at Salt and Pepper down the street from Wrigley
    It was our pre-game tradition to eat there. This time was different because Dad was out on the streets trying to haggle for tickets, and the game had already started. It's weird because I have the crystal clear memory of watching the TV above our booth for shortstop Alex Gonzalez's gamekilling error, but that wasn't until the 8th inning, and we would have been elsewhere at that time. Memory is tricky like that.
  13. Dad returned empty-handed. We started to wander the streets, listening to the game from just beyond the walls of Wrigley, catching glimpses of it on the TVs nearby.
    We were winning 3-0 and it was electric, even from the outside. An iconic Morrissey moment came when Rose went to take a picture of Dad and me in front of the Wrigley sign. She was leaning backwards to fit the whole sign in and ended up falling onto her back. Dad and I erupted into laughter. Rose was pissed. She laughs about the memory now, but if you poke hard enough, she'll get huffy all over again. She took a great picture though.
  14. Dad was ready to pack up shop and head home so we could beat the crowds on the train. Then when we heard the loudest noise. Not cheering. Booing.
    The Bartman Ball. We were just beyond the wall for this, and ran over to a nearby shirt store to see what happened. The TVs had a fifteen second delay from the live game, so we managed to catch it all. My dad was LIVID. When he said he wanted to leave before, he meant slowly wander and maybe sneak in for the 9th inning. Now he was serious. "Let's get on the train. This is gonna be bad."
  15. We went home heavy hearted. They'd win tomorrow, and we'd have to watch from the TV at home.
    Oh optimism.
  16. The Cubs lost game 7.
    I locked myself in my room to cry. It was such a bitter end, and I couldn't shake the terrible feeling it left in me. The magic season was over. No more late nights staying up to watch the game with Dad and Rose. No more leverage over the Sox fans at school. All of it erased, and I cried for that, and for the team that so many people believed in so fully. Generations of families waiting to celebrate in honor of the fans who died before they ever saw the day come.
  17. I wore my Cubs jacket to school the next day.
    I remember getting off the school bus and my principal, Mr. Savick, patting me on the head and expressing his condolences. It was such a bummer loss that everyone let the Cubs fans mourn for a day or two before the taunting started.
  18. Dad stayed Dad, but I had to distance myself from baseball a little.
    The rollercoaster of 2003 took the wind out of my sails. I remain a devoted fan to this day, but I can't ever allow myself to get as close as I did that year. Now I live in LA and hear about Dad's opening day adventures over the phone. He still loves his Cubs, and I know now that 2003 meant more to him than Rose or me: it was the year he got two of his kids to love baseball. He couldn't ask for more!
  19. The Cubs are playing really well this year.
    But Dad has a sense of humor about it. So far they aren't living up to his favorite acronym: Completely Useless By September. He's quietly optimistic about their chances this season, but also thinks they have a chink in the armor. So, for him, for Rose, for me, for every diehard Cubs family, I want this year to be the year, but I know that we'll all be okay if it's not. Because Cubs fans are the most resilient of all. There's always next year. You just WAIT until next year.