Mr. Cub Would Have Loved Cubs Status

Seeing the Cubs at Tropicana Field last week, along with the accompanying Cubs nation, I thought about Ernie Banks and having had the good fortune to meet Mr. Cub.

In 1985, I worked for the St. Petersburg Evening Independent, and my first assignment for the now-defunct afternoon paper was to cover a fantasy game at Tampa’s Al Lopez Field.  Former major leaguers were suited up to play the campers, or grown men who had paid to attend the camp that featured those major leaguers. And that’s where I found Banks, suited up in his Cubs uniform.

I introduced myself and we talked. I think he recognized the fact that I felt nervous, for he threw an arm around my shoulders and began to lead me around the dugout, introducing me like we were best friends to the the likes of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle among others. I’ll never forget shaking hands with Mays.  His forearm would have made Popeye’s blush.

Years later I saw Banks in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse after they’d won the World Series. I thought how odd and bittersweet that sighting had been. Banks never played for a team that went to the World Series during his Hall of Fame career.

Mr. Cub would have loved the current status of Cubs baseball. No doubt Joe Maddon would love to have him.

 

Sunday’s New York Times had an article about Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett (I did not know who he was, but he, too, was a successful Olympic swimmer). Anyway, the article addressed how Hackett has dealt with mental health problems, and how he’s now reaching out to other athletes with similar issues. From Hackett’s journey came this profound observation: “It’s hard when you’ve done something that many people see as extraordinary, but as a person you’re not.” Blew me away.

 

In case you missed this one, former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who now plays for the Houston Texans, donated his first game check to three women who work in the NRG Stadium cafeteria and were affected by Hurricane Harvey’s flooding. According to an ESPN.com article, Watson handed an envelope to each of the women and said, “Hopefully, that’s good and that can get you back on your feet. And anything else y’all need, I’m always there to help.”

 

During the NFL season opener, Partriots fans booed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg observed: “Michael Vick got a better reception at the Westminster Dog Show.”

 

I’ve been remiss not to thank everyone who came by my book signing several weeks past. Retrouvailles has sold fairly well to date, so again, thanks to all, particularly Zudar’s owner Eric Weinstein, who hosted the event.

 

Wyoming punter Tim Zaleski totally missed on a punt attempt against Iowa. Noted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: On the bright side, his first text of condolence he received came from Charlie Brown.

Finally, former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler changed his mind about being retired after being urged to do so by his wife. He’s now the Dolphins’ quarterback, prompting RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com to write: “Not the first guy told by his wife to take a hike.”
bchastain19@gmail.com 
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