Confessions of a Cubs fan
October 2, 2004
John DeVon was not surprised in the least when the Chicago Cubs lost seven of eight games down in the final week of the season, playing themselves right out of the National League playoff picture.
You see, John has been a loyal Cubs fan ever since 1945 – the last time they reached the World Series – which translates into 59 years of frustration. Oh, and by the way, the Cubs have not been World Series champions since 1908.
“The Cubs have bitten the bullet again, right on time – the end of September,” he said. “They’ve been treating me like this for too many years. It’s predictable. I’ve been there ever since 1945, and they’ve done it every single year.”
DeVon, a 10-year resident of Dayton, has paid his dues. A “Die-hard Cubs Fan Since 1945” plaque – autographed by Ernie Banks and Dallas Green – can be found in his office and he also wears a Cubs pin on his hat. This is a fan who visited Wrigley Field countless times during his youth to watch baseball in a park built in 1914.
“To this day, every time I see the field it brings back a lot of old memories,” DeVon said. “It’s a religious experience to go see a ball game at Wrigley Field. You walk off Clark and West Addison and you see big pictures of the old players above the concession stands. Then when you walk to your seat, the Field is sunken down and you see the ivy on the outfield walls. It’s just a gorgeous sight.”
DeVon lived within walking distance of 1060 West Addison Street in the 1940s and ’50s.
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“My mom used to give me two or three dollars so I could go to watch the games with my friends,” he said. “That would take care of street car fare, hot dogs, cokes, and 65 cents to get in the ballpark – and that was a seat in the grandstands.
“Sometimes we would walk to Wrigley Field, it was maybe 30 blocks from where I lived. And in those days, you could take your bike, go into watch the game and when you came back out, your bike would still be there. That was a simple time in my life.”
It was a simple time for baseball, too. No multi-million dollar contracts. No artificial turf. No ESPN, or any other television to speak of.
“I grew up listening to baseball on the radio,” said DeVon, who later worked as a radio disc jockey and newscaster in Chicago.
DeVon’s favorite player was No. 48, outfielder Andy Pafko, who spent eight seasons with the Cubs and was a key figure for the team in its drive to win the NL pennant in 1945 (110 RBIs). Phil Cavarretta hit a league-leading .355 that season and Hank Borowy compiled a league-best 2.13 ERA and won 11 of 13 decisions after being acquired on waivers from the Yankees in late July. The Cubs finished first in the NL with a 98-56 record, three games ahead of the Cardinals.
That also happened to mark the origin of the Cubs’ Billy Goat Jinx. William “Billy Goat” Sianis, a neighborhood tavern owner, bought two box seat tickets to Game 4 World Series at Wrigley Field on Oct. 6, 1945 – one for him and one for his goat, Sonovia – but the goat was denied entry into the park.
“They wouldn’t let the goat in because of the smell, so Sianis put an eternal hex on the Cubs,” DeVon said. “After that, he telegraphed (team owner) Phillip K. Wrigley – ‘Who smells now?'”
Is this really a hex? Well, the Tigers won that game 4-1 to even the World Series at two games apiece and then went on to win the championship in seven games. The Cubs were one game away from getting to the World Series in 1984 and in 2003, and of course, nobody needs to remind DeVon about the fan who impeded an attempt by Moises Alou to catch a foul ball hit down the left field line at Wrigley Field last October. The Cubs also let a seemingly comfortable lead in the 1969 pennant race slip away to the Miracle Mets.
“The Mets in 1969, that was tough,” DeVon said. “The Cubs were eight or nine games ahead in August, but the Mets just came in and took over the last couple of weeks and then they won the World Series.
” I kind of thought that this year with Astros. It looked like were out of it, then they really got hot.”
The Cubs also lost seven of eight between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1. Five of those losses were decided by one run, including 4-3 and 2-1 losses in 12 innings at home against Cincinnati. They also lost to the Mets 4-3 in 11 innings on Sept. 25.
“I’m still in mourning,” DeVon said. “Call me a glutton for punishment. I’m just a die-hard fan.”
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.
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