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Baseball is back

I was in my happy place, watching baseball. I am happy that baseball returned. The Cubs were playing the Padres. I was sipping beer. The saloon was almost empty. There were only three other patrons. No one screamed at the television. No one played the jukebox, cutting off the game sound. It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon to watch my favorite sport. Unfortunately, both the Cubs and White Sox lost.

I am not a fanatic. I do not care about game or player stats. I only care whether the Cubs or Sox win. If the teams do good in the pre-season, I may splurge for tickets on season games. It is a tough proposition since they are so expensive. A day at the ballpark with drinks and food can break the bank. But there is nothing, I mean nothing, like watching a ballgame in the park.

When I was a lad, a neighbor had season White Sox tickets. He would take his kids and their friends to games at Comiskey Park. These were the first of many games I went to. I was an Andy Frain usher in the late 1960s. I worked at many Cubs and Sox games. Sometimes on the same day, the Cub’s day game and the Sox night game. Once the games started, we could watch them.

In college, we ditched classes on opening day and sat in the Wrigley bleachers. It was great. There were many unusual characters in those bleachers. So many that a play, “Bleacher Bums,” was written and a smash hit. There was betting on every aspect of the game. Cash floated throughout the bleachers along with cigar smoke.

Songwriter and singer Steve Goodman loved the Cubs. He wrote two songs about them, “Go Cubs Go” and “A Dying Cubs Fan Last Request.”

My daughter has been an avid Cubs fan since she was young. One year when she was nine years old, her mother and I gave her a Christmas gift of going to spring training. A friend lived in Arizona and set the whole thing up. It was the first time she would fly alone.

A few weeks before her departure, her mother asked me what to tell her to say if some freak talked to her on the plane and made her uncomfortable. I told her to tell my daughter to say her father is a hitman for the Chicago Outfit. If he did not leave her alone, her father would kill everything he loves. His mother, father, wife, children, dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, goats, everything. Then he would kill him. It would take him three days to be killed.

Her mother did not think a daughter should think if her father like that. I agreed. I told her to forget the animals. A daughter should not think her father would kill innocent animals. About a week later, they came up with a solution. I was still a police officer. She would tell the freak, “My father is old, crazy, and carries guns. All his friends are old, crazy, and carry guns. Would you like to meet them?” Fortunately, the flights to and from were uneventful. My friends and I did not have to meet anyone.

Baseball is back. Time to rejoice.

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