The Learning Curve: Story of a Life-Long Cubs Fan by Julie Nelson

A lifelong fan: Nelson, age 10, at Wrigley Field

There are 108 stitches in a baseball, which the Cubs first manager and ace pitcher A.G. Spalding designed. His Chicago office was originally located at 108 W. Madison Street. A few weeks ago, we witnessed history when the Chicago Cubs broke their 108 year-long World Series drought. Coincidence? I think not. The 2016 World Series win taught fans and non-fans alike true lessons of patience, perseverance, and determination. More importantly, it taught us that if you’re going to make people wait over a century for something, you’d better have a cool story to go along with it when you finally make it happen.

Some things in life don’t come easily. One of my more challenging life accomplishments has been maintaining my status as a Cubs fan. Season after season, fans (myself included) cheered on the Cubbies despite the heartbreaks we’ve endured over the years. Not many people can pinpoint the exact moment their love of baseball began, but when you get to witness Sammy Sosa do his infamous “bunny hop” after hitting a homer out of center field in person, it’s a memory you don’t forget.

When I was 10 years old, I was given the option of maintaining my normal 5th grade school routine or spending a week at Wrigley field. I gladly traded my saddle oxfords and plaid skirt for a Cubs hat and a glove in case a ball came my way in the outfield. Would you like your child to share a common interest of yours? If you aren’t having much luck, let them skip school for a week, take them on the trip of a lifetime to Chicago, and feed them hot dogs and peanuts for every meal. I was hooked. Your son or daughter will be, too.

When you grow up in the Magnolia state, you don’t have professional sports teams in your backyard. Therefore, you look for guidance on which teams you should pledge your allegiance. My grandfather was originally from Germany and moved to Chicago when he was a small child. By the time I came along, only the images on the wall hanging beside his Purple Heart told the story of his incredible youth. I was too young to remember much about him, but my memories contain two constants: black jellybeans and the Cubs. Whenever I walked through my grandparents’ house and found him in his chair in the back sitting room, he’d have me sort through the jellybeans (without telling my grandmother, of course) to find his favorite ones and we’d sit and watch the game. In his lifetime, he never saw his hometown team accomplish the feat we were lucky enough to witness in November.

Almost 20 years to the day in which my love of baseball began, I watched in euphoric disbelief as the unbelievable happened. In typical Cubs fashion, they defied all the odds and, over a century later, brought back the title to a city that awaiting it for 108 years. At that moment, the only words I felt that were appropriate were those of Harry Caray — “Holy Cow!”

Now that I’ve checked that box off my life-long bucket list, I’m going to need the Bulldogs to win a national championship. #DontStopBelieving