For some players, itís money; others itís glory and adulation or maybe even stats. But for this weekís featured Cub, family is what makes his world go round. Joe grew up in Peoria and the Cubs were a family staple growing up. Joe played on two separate Cub squads. Some even speculate a third is in his future (managerial.) Enjoy this weekís excerpt from Carrie Muskatís compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. I know Joe will. (Aiello, that is.)
I wrote a third-grade essay that I wanted to play for the Chicago Cubs. That was my dream. I have a lot of fond memories about coming to the ballpark. Itís funny, what I remember the most about coming to the ballpark was the Ron Santo pizza. I used to get three or four pieces during the course of the game, and thatís what I remember the most.
I would usually fall asleep in the chair next to my dad. We watched a lot of division rivals, Pittsburgh and the Phillies. I remember Mike Schmidt being a Cub killer. I was pretty amazed, Opening Day, 1989, when I ws actually on the same field that he was. That was like, pinch me and wake me up.
Yankee Stadium, thatís a special place. But itís different here because as a kid I didnít watch the Yankees, and I didnít grow up loving the Yankees. I grew up loving the Cubs. And to be able to fulfill your dreams is really special.
It was really important for me to come back to the Cubs for a number of reasons. I think the first reason is family. I wanted some stability for my family and I wanted my daughter Serena to know her grandparents and her aunts and uncles like I did because that was real important to me. Youíre basically gone nine months out of the year.
Two, I got a chance to play for the team that I love playing for and I always wanted to play for. That was real important to me. I think last year ñ this might sound kind of funny ñ but last year was the first year I ever had to rent a U-Haul to come home. Thatís not easy to do.
Itís a lot different now because Iím a lot more mature and I donít think Iím necessarily taken aback by the surroundings and in awe like I was the first time I came here. The idea of coming to Wrigley Field and playing in this ballpark will never lose its appeal, even when Iím done playing and I bring my kids here.