THE FIRST WORD
Oddly, last fall’s
impressed on me
the importance of
something I’ve never
put much stock in:
During the month of October and into early
November, I suppose I was one of the most
identifiable people on campus. I wore my
vintage Chicago Cubs jacket and cap every
day. My Cubs were in the playoffs and then
went on to win the World Series for the first
time in over 100 years. One CIU student,
Malcolm Campbell who is from Chicago, even
made a special trip to my office just so we
could revel in the good vibes together.
Oddly, last fall’s baseball playoffs impressed
on me the importance of something I’ve never
put much stock in: family traditions.
I remember many years ago listening to a
show about the family on Christian radio. The
importance of developing
family traditions was the
topic. I thought, with all the
challenges the American
family faces, this is the best
they can do for a topic?
Then came last fall. But let
me back up a bit.
I grew up in Michigan City,
Indiana, about 50 miles
across Lake Michigan from
Chicago. My four sisters and
I were raised to be Chicago Cub fans. In those
days WGN television and radio in Chicago
aired every Cubs game. So, when the baseball
season came, even my mother, a housewife,
would substitute all her favorite TV game
shows with Cubs baseball. When I coaxed my
sisters, all older than me, to play whiffle ball in
the back yard, I imagined I was Cub superstar
In those days, the Cubs were losing — a lot.
But that didn’t matter.
“Stick with them Cubs,” my dad would
enthusiastically yell to the neighbors after a
rare Cubs win.
Fast forward 50 years. Last October, my adult
son Ryan, also a lifelong Cubs fan, though
raised in the South, joined me and another
Cubs fan – a transplant from Iowa – to watch
the playoffs and World Series. When Ryan
was growing up, we made trips back to the
Midwest giving him opportunity to cheer for
the Cubs alongside father and grandfather in
Wrigley Field, just like I did as a kid.
Throughout the playoffs, my sisters were
calling my mobile phone and texting me. The
family tradition and 21st century technology
was uniting us again, though 850 miles apart.
Then came the dramatic Game 7 of the World
Series. It was full of excitement and agony. My
son nervously kept removing and putting back
on a ratty-looking old Cubs cap. I was too
involved with the game to ask where it came
from. When that last out
finally came making the Cubs
world champions, we took a
celebratory photo in front of
the TV – and Ryan is wearing
that old cap.
As we made our way to our
cars in my friend’s quiet
neighborhood after 1 a.m.
(I had to contain myself real
hard not to yell, “Cubs, win.
Cubs win”) I finally joked with
Ryan, “So you decided to
wear the oldest Cubs cap you could find?”
“This belonged to Grandpa,” he replied. “It
was the only thing I wanted out of his house
after he died.” That was when Ryan was 12
years old. Dad lived to be 78, but of course,
never saw a Cubs championship.
This was about more than baseball and the
Cubs. It was about a family tradition. Just one
of those little building blocks that makes, and
helps keep a family – a family.
“Stick with them Cubs!” We did.
That’s me with CIU student
Malcolm Campbell, a senior
from Chicago and a fellow
Cubs fan. Malcom shares the
love of baseball with his mom,
also a lifelong Cubs fan.
“It’s always been a family
thing,” Malcolm said. “She
sent me text messages
during the playoffs, ‘You
watching the Cubs tonight?’
She got out her Cubs gear
and Sammy Sosa jersey.
The Cubs logo is special
because it represents where
I am from, where my family is
from, and is a big part of who
“You got to root, root,
root for the home team,”
Malcolm added, reciting the
lyrics from “Take Me Out to
The Importance of Family Tradition
THE FIRST WORD