On Wednesday, a pair of Cubs tickets came my way. This season, Cubs tickets are about as hot as a ticket as you can get in Chicago, so I said yes faster than you can Kosuke Fukudome. I asked a few friends to go with me, but work got in their way. (Suckers!) My sister suggested that I take my six-year-old nephew, which turned out to be a fantastic suggestion. (Much better than the time she suggested we cover the pot of spaghetti and turn up the heat to high. That suggestion ended up with us mopping pasta off the ceiling.)
My nephew – Cubs fan, Fukudome man
My sister dropped off Payton around noon, and he and I headed to the L to go to the game. He’s a suburban kid, so the L is an exciting event in and of itself. He was decked out in a Cubs hat, Cubs shirt, Cubs shorts and Cubs backpack. We stopped at the ATM, and he was clearly anxious in while waiting in line. “Do you think they’ll start the game wthout us?” It was a half an hour until game time, so I answered of course not, they’ll wait for us.
As soon as we sat down, Payton looked out onto the field and started naming players. “Look, there’s Geo! And DeRosa! Do you see Fukudome? I don’t see Fukudome?” You see, Payton is coming into his own as a sports fan this year. It started during football season. He knew the names and numbers of all the Chicago Bears players, and would ask questions like “Why are they putting in Berrian when Moose catches the ball better?” Did I mention that he is six? Early during this baseball season, he became a huge Kosuke Fukudome fan, but really just loves the Cubs. He watches every game, and last night’s game is always the first thing he wants to talk about. He couldn’t wait to see his favorite guys live and in action.
Friday’s game between the Giants and Cubs was a pitchers’ duel – a great game on television, but for a six year old, not as fun. Payton grew restless, and took some timeouts to rest with his head on my shoulder. I mentioned leaving before the end of the game, and he said “We have to see the Cubs win!”
Still tied at 0 in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Theriot singled, and then moved to second via Mike Fontenot’s sacrifice bunt. The Giants walked Derrek Lee, and then Aramis Ramirez crushed a three-run homer just inside the left field foul pole. Payton and I were sitting in box seats, far down the third base line, so the home run ball sailed right in front of us. The look on Payton’s face could only be described as unbridled, rapturous joy. He leaped into my arms and just yelled in happiness. “I can’t believe it! Did you see that!”
The ninth inning was not without drama, as Kerry Wood gave up a run. Payton kept asking me – are we going to win? Are we going to get to sing? The answer to both questions was yes. Wood and Lee got the final out, and Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” blared from the speakers. Payton and I gleefully sang along: “Hey Chicago, whaddya Say? The Cubs are gonna win today!”
This was not Payton’s first game at Wrigley, but it was his first game as a true fan. About halfway through the game, I saw the look in his eye – he is now part of the Cub faithful, for better or worse. Welcome to the club, Pay.
Note: After I wrote this post, I came across this article about Dominic DiAngi. a seven-year-old who was seriously injured by a foul ball at Thursday’s Cubs game. Please keep Dominic and his family in your prayers.