In the early hours of November 3, 2016, Chicago Cubs fans celebrated not only for themselves but loved ones who were never given the opportunity.
Sitting next to my father in his living room, Mike Montgomery came into the game as the Chicago Cubs held a one-run lead in the tenth inning. I recall not being able to feel anything other than my heartbeat that began to pick up speed, nearly beating through my chest.
Suddenly, with two outs, Indians utility man Michael Martinez chopped a ground ball past the mound. In charged Kris Bryant who nearly slipped as he made a scoop and throw into the mitt of Anthony Rizzo.
“Here’s the 0-1! This is gonna be a tough play; Bryant, the Cubs win the World Series! Bryant makes the play! It’s over! And the Cubs have finally won it all, 8-7 in 10!”
More from Cubs History
- Buck O’Neil played monumental role in Cubs and baseball history
- Cubs fans will remember broadcaster Vin Scully fondly
- There’s a lot more to Steve Goodman than ‘Go Cubs, Go’
- Which Chicago Cubs managers have been ejected the most?
- Ranking the 5 best switch hitters in Cubs history
Only, I caught the final half of it while crying in my father’s arms. A man who wasted no time pulling me in with one arm, letting out tears of joy while saying, “My dad would be so happy! They finally did it, son!”
As I closed my eyes and tears streamed down my face, I could hear the pot of coffee my grandfather would make each morning.
The shuffling of his feet while he made his way through the kitchen to grab himself either an apple or banana before opening the newspaper.
In the blink of an eye
Relief. In this case, my family celebrated for a man who spent decades sitting next to a massive picture window, shouting “How ’bout that!” at the television set. Our time to experience a World Series title was here.
Six years ago, I joined the Cubbies Crib family on my Grandpa Miniel’s birthday. Upon hearing the news, my father expressed how excited he was and how proud my grandfather would be. Phone calls regarding baseball would then follow as his attention went directly to the very website we helped grow to what it is today.
And then my father got sick. Still, we discussed baseball even after he had woken up from a medically induced coma and weaned off a ventilator due to fluid building up around his lungs. His respiratory system had begun to fail along with his kidneys.
Even while sitting in dialysis for hours, dad made an effort to call and check what time the Cubbies were going to be on and if I had any articles coming up. Apparently, he was telling people on his floor about the website while others gathered around a shared TV whenever games were on.
Despite the fact that his body was giving up on him, the man still made it a point to promote our work to those around him.
On Friday, September 20, 2019, the man who gave and guided me through life passed away at the age of 57. He was brutally honest, stubborn, passionate and had the ability to make anyone laugh even during the toughest of times.
I’m thankful for a lot that he has done for my family. Most importantly, his grandkids whom he absolutely adored. Although his physical body is no more, I firmly believe his spirit continues to live and will do so more than ever once Opening Day arrives.
Just like his father’s.
No, he’ll never have the chance to meet my future wife and or children; which saddens me just thinking about it. However, I am most thankful that we were able to celebrate a Cubs World Series title before he was called home.
I will forever love and miss you, Pops.
John P. Miniel Sr.
8/28/1962 – 9/20/2019