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A Timeless Trance

By Tammy Lechner2021897-1530429-thumbnail.jpg
Wrigley in Snow by Tammy Lechner

  • Excerpted from Our Team—Our Dream: A Cubs Fan’s Journey Into Baseball’s Greatest Romance

It was a moment to stay in… to always remember. Tens of thousands of empty seats surrounded the perfect symmetry of a white diamond with waves of olive green. Snow had fallen on Wrigley Field just days earlier, purging the trials and tribulations of the past baseball season with a magical serenity. “I am waiting…” it seemed to say, “waiting with you… waiting for you.”

My desire to throw arms wide open and return the embrace of this ethereal message was interrupted by the reality of my circumstance. I became intensely aware of my privilege to be in this space where millions have come and gone, laughed and cried, and inevitably, at the end of each hopeful season, pressed their undaunted hearts out like banners proclaiming, “Wait Until Next Year.”

I was enchanted… caught in a timeless trance where the present was also the past and the future, I realized that as Wrigley Field has patiently weathered nearly 100 winters, very few people get to see it dressed in white.

This made me wonder if perhaps Wrigley Field is taken for granted by those who see it often, particularly every day. At the time, I couldn’t imagine such a fate. Yet, as the journey I began on this day would continue over the next fifteen seasons, I came to better understand the Cubs fan’s philosophy toward life… too much of a good thing isn’t always good… be careful of what you wish for… and of course, “Wait Until Next Year.”

Beneath these pearls of wisdom, however, there lay a mystery. How is it that, season after season, such unrequited love remains undiminished? With this question in mind I searched the quiet solitude of Wrigley Field for an answer. Looking back at me, it seemed to whisper a reply, “I know.”

Herein lies the secret, I thought, as if gazing upon Mecca at the end of a long pilgrimage. Yet, rather than being a destination, this place would prove to be the destiny. And I would return to it many times while following Cub fans along their path of eternal hope. Like a dream, this was a journey that would develop in its own time, and reveal secrets to me in its own way. I had no clear idea where it would lead me… or when it would release me. It would become, in fact, a piece of a baseball odyssey that I joined when I became a Cubs fan nearly thirty years earlier, but that existed long before me and continues on through one century and now into another. It would consist of many journeys, begun in many places, telling many stories like my own.

I was 11-years-old in 1969 when the Chicago Cubs entered my life. Late summer’s lazy haze was uplifted that year by a growing excitement in my small town in Upstate New York as the “Amazing Mets” were about to overcome the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Eastern. Division.

Though the Mets had the momentum of the season on their side, I decided to be contrary and root for the Cubs. That turned out to be a day when a baseball romance would come to me and change my life forever. Yet, at the time I didn’t realize how many “next years” awaited me. I also didn’t know that I would travel thousands of miles one day to see Wrigley Field covered with snow, sit with the Bleacher Bums, party in Wrigleyville, ride the trains through Chicago, take in Cubs Conventions and spring trainings, get to know Cubs players and coaches, and photograph more than 100 Chicago Cubs games at Wrigley Field and elsewhere.

But, here I was, with the field temperature a crisp 35 degrees, frozen in a private moment of regard with the Friendly Confines and contemplating the coming baseball season. With these thoughts of summer I felt a warm breeze pass over me, laced with the aroma of cold beer and smoky links. I saw the white diamond turn emerald green as the empty seats burst into a kaleidoscope of color. I heard Cubs fans singing along with Harry, whose booming voice rose above the roar of the crowd to declare, “CUBS WIN!!!”

These were things I knew would happen, sure as the sun would rise and set. Beyond this, I could only wait for what this New Year might bring. After all, they say that one of the charming things about baseball is the fact that you just never know.

Guest Loser Tammy Lechner is a noted visual chronicler of the lifestyle and culture of baseball. She has covered professional sports as a staff member of the [Louisville] Courier-Journal and the Los Angeles Times, as well as for the Associated Press, USA Today and Baseball Digest. She is the author of IN THE CAL: Pastime Goes Primetime In California’s Minor League and Our Team—Our Dream: A Cubs Fan’s Journey Into Baseball’s Greatest Romance. Lechner, a lifelong Cubs fan who resides in Laguna Beach, California, will appear at El Jardin’s May 7 to as part of the next Lovable Losers Literary Revue.

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 06:21PM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue in , | Comments12 Comments | References1 Reference

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