Tag Archives: WGN

Fun with Fatherhood – Cubs Comeback

A nice evening turned into a memorable one last night.

I had put the boys to bed, and after a half hour or so I went back into their room to check on them. My oldest son was still awake, as he sometimes is. He seems to have received his father’s sleeplessness gene.

So I sat down and chatted with him for a few moments and then asked him if he wanted me to turn the radio on to help him fall asleep. He said yes and after a few moments I got up to turn on the clock radio in their room.

When I turned it on, the familiar voice of Pat Hughes came through the speaker. The Chicago Cubs were playing and it was a close game versus the Milwaukee Brewers. We were trailing 5-4 and about to head to the 9th inning.

The only reason their radio was on that frequency was because I’d attempted to listen to a game on it last week. I had forgotten about that and didn’t expect it to be tuned to that station, nor would I have probably thought at the time to tune in the game.

We were both happy it was on, though and I told my son that Pat would let him know everything that was happening. I also informed him that listening to ball games, often times before bed, was something I used to do as a kid.

Then as I was about to get up to leave I thought, ‘Why not listen to the top of the 9th with him and see if the Cubs can tie it up?’

He was still lying down, and I was at the foot of his bed as Pat’s voice announced the beginning of the 9th inning through the darkness of the room he shares with his non-sleep deprived, mouth open, looking as comfortable and content as could be, passed out little brother.

Hearing Pat call each pitch is always a delight and it was fun to introduce my son to the real experience that is listening to a ball game on the radio.

The first batter got on base, thanks to an errant throw. My son and I exchanged a high-five and cheered on the next batter. Strikeout. Darn…but a wild pitch to the next batter advanced the runner to second. Scoring position. Sweet!

That next better was David DeJesus. He’d already hit a grand slam in the game, so there was hope for him to knock in the tying run. Crack! Triple, tying the game at 5. We were fired up. Another high-five later and we focused on the next batter, hoping for the go-ahead run now.

Swing and a miss for strike three. No! But wait, Pat’s voice started to escalate. The ball had gotten away from the catcher and DeJesus made it across the plate to score the go-ahead run in the process!

That got him excited enough to sit up for this round of high-fives. Go Cubs! I envisioned in my head what the play looked like based on the radio call from Pat, and wondered if my son was doing the same.

After another strikeout it was time for another big hit. Alfonso Soriano got the job done and put the Cubs ahead 7-5. Who knew this half inning would turn out so great? I was clapping now and turned to my son to get another high-five.

Wouldn’t you know it, the kid was asleep. Out cold, just two minutes after celebrating the previous run. Guess he was content knowing the Cubs were winning 🙂

I wish I could tell him it ended well in Milwaukee. He will be waking up here shortly and I’ll be informing him that the Cubbies couldn’t hang onto that lead. They lost the game in the 13th inning.

But that’s ok. I’ll remember listening to the top of the 9th inning of this game. A comeback, a great call from the booth, and a few minutes of quality time spent with my oldest son. Hopefully he will remember it too.

So Long, Ron

I am being admittedly selfish by saying I felt like I had been robbed after hearing the news this morning that Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo had passed away. The beloved Cub icon who was memorable for both his career at third base and in the broadcast booth succumbed to complications from bladder cancer last night.

Santo’s broadcast partner Pat Hughes put it best when he said, ‘The Cubs have lost their biggest fan.’ Ron Santo lived, breathed, and bled the Chicago Cubs. He poured his heart and soul into every game.

He never was the prototypical broadcaster – and I loved that about him. Ronnie wasn’t afraid to call things as he saw them. Sometimes that meant criticizing poor play in a way that others might shy away from in an effort to not rock the boat. It also meant wildly cheering when others might refrain from showing too much emotion. And still more it meant agonizing over Cubs defeats in ways that every fan could relate to. For Ron, it hurt when the Cubs lost. For real Cubs fans, despite not being to the World Series in decades and despite not winning one in more than a century, every loss still hurts.

Ron Santo epitomized the plight of Chicago Cubs fans and that is part of what made him such an endearing figure to so many. Who could forget the playoff run in 1998 and Ron’s ‘Oh no!‘ call after Brant Brown dropped that fly ball? I still remember sitting at my desk listening to that call on WGN radio and losing it right along with him. Just heard Hughes tell a story of how Jim Riggleman, the manager of the Cubs at the time, was actually consoling Ron after the game. Not every day you see a manager having to console a broadcaster after a loss but that’s how passionate Ron was about the Cubs.

There were so many other ups and downs that we all experienced with him behind the microphone. He was like an extension of every fan in that booth, except he was the one actually calling the games on the air.

What also made Ron Santo endearing was his effort to increase awareness of diabetes and his charitable work for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. A sufferer of diabetes himself, Ron did everything he could to help others with the disease. He also did his part to try to find a way to prevent others from suffering a similar fate. His Walk to Cure Diabetes and other efforts raised millions of dollars for diabetes research.

Heard a story on the radio this morning that often times he would be on the phone taking calls from diabetes patients, letting them know what to expect and encouraging them – even as the game had already started. Pretty much sums up what kind of a guy Ronnie was.

Getting back to what I said at the beginning…I really do feel robbed in a way today. Ron Santo was a part of my life and countless other people’s lives, despite the fact that most of us never met him. Selfishly I wish he was still around so I could hear more games with him behind the microphone.

For me Ron Santo meant summer afternoons growing up, listening to the Cubs on the radio while playing outside and hanging out with my family. I love those days. Ron’s passing makes me really long for those days. The memories of those simple summer afternoons being spent with my Mom and Dad and my sister, listening to our favorite team and cheering (and groaning) along with Ronnie as the Cubs took us on their annual journey are priceless to me.

Life most definitely goes on and those of us who bleed Cubbie blue will continue to ride the rollercoaster. It will just be different, that’s all. Ron Santo had a positive attitude like few others out there, he was completely dedicated to what he loved, and was just an all around decent human being. He was a gift to all of us. In the end I’m just glad to have had the opportunity to listen to him all of those times.

Thanks for the memories, Ronnie. Something tells me you’ve already started pulling some strings for us up there in Heaven…maybe this year will finally be our year 🙂