My decades-long Cubs fandom remains rooted in family

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

Why am I a Cubs fan? Given how the last year or so has gone, that’s probably a question many of us find ourselves asking right now.

The on-field product right now is, well, not good. So I thought I’d take a minute to introduce myself given I’m new here at Cubbies Crib. My name is Cary Heinz and over the years, I have often (but not always) found myself following the Lovable Losers. Here’s the story of my fandom.

My father was a White Sox fan. Not rabid, but they would have been his preference. His brother Dale was married to a wonderful woman named Doris, who I called Aunt Dee Dee. When I became annoying in childhood, which was probably quite often given I was an only child, I was farmed out to their home.

Aunt Dee Dee was a childless woman who loved and spoiled me. They had twelve rural acres, and a fifty-cc mini bike. I rode that thing endlessly. Aunt Dee Dee was also a Cubs fan.

We would go shopping and she would buy me baseball cards (which I saved and sold last summer). Cubs stuff followed, then my mom, dad, aunt and uncle went to Cubs games, I walked up the steps and gazed out at Wrigley Field, yes in 1969 at the age of eight. That’s right. I became a Cubs fan during that fateful season.

Uncle Dale and Aunt Dee Dee often visited Florida, and since he was an operating engineer and they had no children, they began snow-birding in the mid 1970’s, so I got used to not seeing them a few months a year. They were around fifty, so that was unusual, and fortunate.

They returned home one spring around 1980 and she awoke on the morning of May 11, Mother’s Day not feeling well. Aunt Dee Dee died of a heart attack almost immediately when she returned to bed. She was only in her early fifties. As she was away part of the year, and I was not yet college age, I didn’t take her death as hard as I probably should have. It was like she went to Florida and never returned.

I have jokingly said for years I had a childless aunt who I thought loved me by making me a Cubs’ fan. No, she really cursed me.

I’ve seen all the highs and lows over the last 50 years of Cubs baseball

In September 1984, Rick Sutcliffe and the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates to clinch the National League East. I watched the game at a local tavern in my hometown, and after the game celebrated with the patrons giving myself my only two-day hangover of my life. I tipped a few Old Styles, and slugged a few gulps of champagne looking upward thinking how happy Aunt Dee Dee must be.

Over the years I have seen Banks, Bowa, Bartman, Bryant, and now Boog. 2016 was magical, and for those of us who have been around awhile the current situation isn’t unfamiliar. The team on the field isn’t good. A roster comprised of a mix of underachieving veterans and somewhat promising rookies. Prospects coming, but not soon enough. It’s about the time of the year when you don’t tune is as much. You know things are bad when they are offering a free beer.

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Take a moment to remember, and thank the family member or friend who made you love baseball, blue pinstripes, the Friendly Confines and losing records. I’m here thanking Aunt Dee Dee (well, most of the time).