Being born and raised in Houston I get all sorts of grief about being a Cubs fan and not an Astros fan. For whatever reason people cannot put their arms around the concept that simply living near one franchise is not a prerequisite for being a fan.
It’s not that I dislike the Astros….I don’t. I practically grew up at the Astrodome spending an uncountable number of summer nights in those ugly orange seats….it’s just that the Astros aren’t my favorite team. One of my favorite framed prints that I have is of the Dome with the view from behind the dugout as the Astros players take BP. That was the exact view I had as a youth trying to take pictures and get autographs of my favorite players. Really, the only time I’ll ever root against them is if they’re playing the Cubs head-to-head or if it’s in a playoff race and it will help the Cubs (if they’re legitimately in the race).
I should probably also throw it out there that I like the Oakland A’s and the Boston Red Sox as well. I’ve been following Oakland since Tim Hudson came up in 1999 (my father met him at the Smith Awards in ’97, which has been renamed the Roger Clemens Award) and I’ve grown to like them even more since they tend to draft collegiate players that I really like (Steve Stanley, Cliff Pennington, etc.). I’ve liked Boston since ’97 when Nomar Garciaparra came up.
Let me also make it clear that I don’t just like the Cubs….they are my team. I don’t know why I have to prove it but no one believes me so here we go….
Yep, I had a baseball birthday party in the 4th grade and my Mom (who also falls under the categories of kindergarten teacher & Cub Scout Den Leader) made my invitation a baseball card with the party information on the back. We played a game, the Cubs v. the Braves….and my Cubs lost. So what else is new?
A year or so later my folks turned my outdated bedroom into the ultimate fan shrine.
That was my room growing up. If you look carefully you can see that one of the two lamps behind my bed was actually an Astros lamp. The photo with me in it was around when I was in 8th grade (it was the mid-90s so wearing jorts was ok).
In answer to your next question, no I don’t have a restraining order.
How did the Cubs enter my life? I honestly can’t put my finger on the exact reason but I think I have it narrowed down. In the 3rd grade I was at summer camp and we had to make puppets out of construction paper and a popsicle stick. The kid next to me got into an argument with me over how Ryne Sandberg spelled his name. I said it was Ryan, like my own name, and he said it was Ryne. We all know the truth to that and I’ve since admitted I was wrong. Well, I went ahead and made my Ryno popsicle puppet and then started collecting his baseball cards and it sort of snowballed into a passion for the Cubs.
It really didn’t have anything to do with WGN, mainly because my folks wouldn’t let us have cable until I got into high school.
My first visit to Wrigley Field was on the Fourth of July, 1996 at the age of 14.
Ryno had un-retired at this point and hit a double into RF. Since that game I have been back to Wrigley for games on 8 different occasions including Mark Prior’s MLB Debut, a game against Randy Johnson & the Astros, & Sammy’s 50th HR in ’98.Jul 4, 1996 Aug 22, 1998 Aug 23, 1998 Jul 22, 2000 Jul 23, 2000 May 22, 2002 Jul 14, 2005 Jul 15, 2005 Aug 1, 2008
I also saw them play in St. Louis (May 14) & Milwaukee (May 19) in 2002 . I’m not sure exactly how many Cubs games I’ve been to here in Houston but I have ticket stubs from 40 different Astros/Cubs games at the Dome or at MMP dating back to my first MLB game ever (May 15, 1988). I didn’t even know that I saw the Cubs play in my first MLB game until about 3 years ago. Part of me is curious if by seeing the Cubs for my first game had some sort of psychological subconscious impact on me taking to them the way I have. That game was Mark Grace’s 12th game in the big leagues and he was hitting in the 3-hole. What did I get myself into?
As you can probably see from the photos Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. I’ve got cards, balls, cards, hats, posters, cards, more cards….the whole shebang.
I met him once in ’97 and then again in the summer of ’05 when he came to Houston for a memorabilia show.
Since Ryno’s departure from the game I’ve always had a Cub or two that I really liked….most of’em aren’t All-Stars but I didn’t really care….Brooks Kieschnick, Kevin Orie, Mark Pisciotta, Gary Gaetti, Manny Alexander, Glenallen Hill, Brant Brown, Mark Prior, Nomar Garciaparra, and now Matt Murton.
My favorite team was the 1998 team. The whole season was just magical with the passing of Harry Caray and later, Jack Brickhouse, the Sosa/McGwire chase, and the Wild Card play-off game with the Giants. The 2003 team was probably the best team we’ve had since I’ve been following them. You can read all about them from my archive. I still can’t believe we didn’t win that series….man that was crushing.
I have a sweatshirt that says “2000: This millennium is ours”. No better time to start than this season.