The title of this one is “Cubs Essential – Everything You Need To Know To Be A Real Fan”. Additionally, the cover proclaims: “Stories, Statistics, Facts, Figures, Anecdotes, Trivia…And More”. Written by Lew Freedman (“a sportswriter with the Chicago Tribune, where he has worked since 2001”). Published in 2006.

The book follows the Cubs from their inception (“1876…the year of Custer’s Last Stand”), through Ryne Sandberg’s induction/enshrinement into the Hall of Fame (2005).

There are trivial facts and trivia questions sprinkled throughout the book. There is also a Chicago Cubs All-Time Roster (listing players who have appeared in at least one game with the Chicago Cubs). The facts were interesting, the questions stumped me, and the roster could be helpful in computing the ex-Cub factor as the postseason approaches (at least through the 2005 season).

Let me share some notable items from the book:

- “Most players will tell you that they would have given anything to play at Wrigley Field during the time I did,” Banks said. “It’s simply beautiful. The fans there and the ivy on the wall. I think people should take their shoes off when they go there.”

- I feel obligated to point out that at Wrigley Field, the visitors’ dugout is along the first base side, not along the third base side as is (mis)stated in the book.

- “I was quite a guy back in those days,” Wilson said. “I had a lot of natural talent. I sure lacked a lot of other things, like humility and common sense. Baseball came so easy to me that I thought the whole world was my oyster. Hack Wilson knew everything. It didn’t catch up to me for a while.”

- “It is no mystery to (Jerome) Holtzman why the top-notch Cubs teams of the 1930s are not better remembered.”
“There aren’t too many people alive from the 1930s,” he said.

- P.K. Wrigley made the following point in defense of his “College of Coaches” concept: “We certainly cannot do much worse trying a new system than we have done for many years under the old,” Wrigley said.

- “…Cubs fans love Santo’s commentary as much as they loved him as a player.” “Whatever the moaning and groaning I do, and I don’t even realize I’m doing it, I’d be doing it at home,” Santo said.

- Two paragraphs worth of Lee Elia’s 1983 rant about “some” Cubs fans are included, and are pretty entertaining to reread. It’s definitely a highlight. I have never met Mr. Elia, but I think we’d get along. His poetic rant tickled my funny bone and brought a tear to my eyes.

- The complete lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” are included, with some discussion as to the true identities of Ms.s Katie Casey and Nelly Kelly.

- Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s 24 line homage to the 2003 Cubs is found here in its entirety. It’s not bad.

As the front cover proclaims, “Cubs Essential” is full of stories, statistics, facts, figures, anecdotes, trivia…and more. I think that “real fans” would agree: you don’t need to know everything, or anything, contained herein to be a real fan. However, there is a lot of information here which might be of interest to someone like you or me. I recommend it to the curious fans among us. Wanna know stuff?

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I'm a third generation cubs fan, living in southeastern Wisconsin.