Keeping The Faith
After this championship season, the names of the departed Cub faithful are being written on the brick wall beneath the left field bleachers on Waveland. Feeling love and loss, I’m called to add the name of our family’s #1 Cubs fan.
This is a photograph I took of my brother in law, John Whiteford, enjoying a ball game with older brother Russ and nephew Patrick at Wrigley Field, John's favorite place. Barbara’s younger brother was a wonderful person. We will forever miss his intelligence, generosity and fun-loving personality. He was a devoted uncle to our children and they absolutely adored him. He was also a dedicated and knowledgeable baseball fan, but despite his encyclopedic baseball knowledge and thorough understanding of how the game should be played, John never wavered in his devotion to the Cubs. When some hapless Cub would sail a routine throw to first into the stands, commit an especially egregious base running error, miss the cut-off man, fail to lay down a bunt or be out by a mile in a doomed stolen base attempt, John’s aggravation would soon be replaced with bemused resignation. He would soldier on, spending season after season in the always next year purgatory where die-hard Cubs fans dwelt for 108 years. Their long awaited ascension to baseball glory finally occurred on November 2, 2016. How John would have loved this brilliant Cubs team and the season they gave us. How he would have savored every moment of a quintessential World Series with the Cubs coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to finally prevail over a tenacious Cleveland team in an epic Game 7.
In this moment of Cubs glory, I look at this photograph of our dear brother, uncle and friend and wish I could return to that ordinary summer day so many years ago, to sit with him again in the half empty upper deck, on a golden afternoon with the wind blowing out — his hopes of a season above .500 a fading spring memory, I long to hear our family’s #1 Cubs fan share his belief that baseball and Wrigley Field are beautiful and sufficient unto themselves — more than enough to sustain him as he kept the faith and dreamt of Champions.