The Chicago Cubs and ‘Jump’ were ideally together in every way imaginable.
Occasionally there is a confluence of events that decades later, some small thing about it brings memories flooding back. That is perhaps no truer than the 1984 Chicago Cubs and the Van Halen song, Jump.
Rock legend Eddie Van Halen lost a decade-long battle with cancer at age 65. He was a virtuoso on the guitar, a gifted songwriter, and a devoted father to his son Wolfgang, who became the group’s bassist in 2006. He, Van Halen, and the 1984 Cubs are connected forever with Cubs fans.
I lost track of Van Halen once I went to Washington, DC after grad school in 1987. A career, family, and law school followed. My Van Halen and other albums were relegated to the basement as a house replaced apartments, and minivans replaced sportier transportation modes.
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Yet, the classic rock stations were on my Sirius XM. Every once in a while, Jump comes on and almost instantly, as if teleported, I am back in college and seeing Ryne Sandberg or Leon Durham blast a home run or Rick Sutcliffe and Lee Smith shutting down opposing teams.
“I get up, and nothin’ gets me down; You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around…”
My hair gets longer…the gray disappears. The minivan becomes a sports car. You can hear the song a block away…with the windows up.
“And I know, baby, just how you feel. You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real.”
My wife and kids cower in their seats. The ’80s are BACK, and so are those 1984 Cubs! Ninety-five days in first place. 54 wins to just 31 losses from July 1st on. No late-season fade this year as they roll on to 96 wins. Jodi! Jodi! Jodi!
On WGN, Harry Carey is in full Budweiser euphoria with Steve Stone mightily trying, and failing, to bring some semblance of decorum to the situation. In the end, Steve gives up.
“Ah, can’t you see me standin’ here I got my back against the record machine…
I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen. Ah, can’t you see what I mean?”
The Division clinching win on September 24th. Sutcliffe is pitching a two-hitter in that game in Pittsburgh to go 16-1 on the season. They are definitely not the worst that we’d seen. Here come the first playoffs in 39 years!
Ah, might as well jump (jump)! Might as well jump! Go ahead and jump (jump)! Go ahead and jump!
The Cubs win the first NL Championship game 10-0, the second, 4-2. Suddenly we are talking about how they MUST put temporary lights up in Wrigley Field so they won’t have to play the World Series home games at Comiskey Park.
“Ah, might as well jump (jump)! Might as well jump! Go ahead and jump (jump)! Go ahead and jump!”
Until the song ended, Steve Garvey and a Gatorade soaked first baseman’s glove–and Game Five is over.
The song fades with that one-word refrain, “jump, jump, jump…” The sports car turns back into a minivan; my hair is gray again. My wife and kids look at me like I’ve just reappeared from somewhere else.
I look ahead, a half-smile…until 2016. And there they were again…”Jump! Might as well Jump.” Only that time, they did.