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October 2009



Cubs Forever

Written by , Posted in Reviews

The full title is “Cubs Forever – Memories from the Men Who Lived Them”. It is written by Bob Vorwald (Executive Producer of WGN Sports) with Stephen Green (the award winning official team photographer of the Chicago Cubs since 1982).

It celebrates the 60 year collaboration between the Chicago Cubs, WGN TV, and the fans. A DVD is included containing interviews with Cubs players and broadcasters.

The photographs are superb. The writing is superb. The DVD is superb. Cub fans from over the past 60 years will enjoy and appreciate this labor of love.

The book, like the DVD, is divided into seven chapters (which do not correspond, exactly). I’ll list each, with notes and observations.

1. The Lady aka “Everybody Loves Wrigley Field.”
– Lee Smith recalls: “I had an agreement with the grounds crew because I knew they got time and a half after 4:30, so that’s where my slow walk started. It was for my buddies. I would fuss on the mound and make them come out to fix it. They would say, ‘Lee, there’s nothing wrong with the mound. Nobody strides where you do’ I’d tell them, ‘Just fix it, guys. I have to make sure you get your time and a half.’ Of course, I made them buy the beer!”

– Bob Brenly watches Lee every day and sees a player in the mold of another Cubs leader from 20 years back. “Derrek is very serious about his business; he’s serious about how players on his own team and players on the other team view his actions on the field,” Brenly said. “In a way he reminds me a lot of Andre Dawson, who played the game with a lot of class, never wanted to show up a teammate or an opponent, respected the game, respected the fans for spending their hard-earned money to come out here and watch him perform….”

– Fergie Jenkins is quoted on the subject of day baseball: “I enjoyed that part of pitching in day baseball. I just think that if you love and enjoy where you play, you produce. If you don’t like where you’re at, it’s time to move on.”

2. The Heroes “includes Ernie, Billy, Ron, et al.”
– Ron Santo on the subject of the love affair with Cubs fans: “I was told very young by my mother, ‘Always treat people the way you want to be treated.’ I’ve always done that.”

– Ryne Sandberg is quoted from his Hall Of Fame induction speech: “The fourth major league game I ever saw in person, I was in uniform. Yes, I was in awe. I was in awe every time I walked on to the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. Make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third-base coach and get ready to run the bases; hit a home run, put your head down, drop the bat, run around the bases, because the name on the front is a lot more important than the name on the back. That’s respect.”

3. The Voices “150 games a year – every game was broadcast nationwide…”
– Harry Caray speaking about the fans: “Baseball fans are the unsung heroes. Absolutely. The fan is the guy that the owners should cater to. The players should cater to them. The players ought to look ‘em up and encourage the fan to ask for an autograph. These people make it all possible. I don’t care what the contract is, I don’t care how much they hit, I don’t care how much money they’re paid. If that fan isn’t sitting in that seat, the game won’t be around very long.”

4. The Moments “The Ryne Sandberg game – The first night game at Wrigley Field – Ernie’s 500th home run – and more…”

5. The Faithful “The Cubs, the Cubs fans, and WGN – it’s all family….”
– Eric Karros is quoted, about other major league players: “Everybody should be a Chicago Cub for one year.”

– “Most statisticians love numbers, and baseball has more numbers than any other sport. I’m also a soccer fan, but if last night’s score was two goals to one, well, you’re done, your stats are finished.”

6. The Stories “You’re Mr. Cub”, Rick Sutcliffe/Mark Grace, more

7. The Stretch Mike Ditka, Bonnie Hunt, Jimmy Buffett, Bill Murray, others

8. The Games No-hitters, 20 Strikeouts, The ‘84 Clincher, The Wild-Card Game, more

9. The Hope I believe everybody who appears elsewhere in the book gives their opinion about when it’s going to happen, and what it’s going to be like.
– Ron Santo, for instance: “I know I’m optimistic every year. I don’t know what I would do. I really don’t know. I sure hope it happens before I leave this earth, that’s for sure.”

“Cubs Forever – Memories from the Men Who Lived Them” celebrates 60 years of WGN-TV and the Chicago Cubs. It’s by Bob Vorwald with Official Cubs Photographer Stephen Green.

If you have ever watched the Cubs on WGN-TV, or, for that matter, if you’ve ever listened to them on WGN Radio, you will really enjoy this book.

Did I mention that the photographs are superb?