When I was growing up, baseball to me was kind of the essence of all that was good in the world. I loved the game. I loved to play it, I loved to study it, I loved following it, I loved watching it. And the essence of all that, the spirit of baseball, all boiled down to a quote from Ernie Banks, “let’s play two.” To those guys back then, yeah, they needed money to live and they fought for raises and such, but not like today. Back then, they would have played the game for living expenses. Back than it was the love of the game that drove them, not the money.
With the Cubs win yesterday, all of that kind of came back full force. Especially so when I read a Facebook post from Cody Lefkowitz, the 22 year old son of Pam Lefkowitz, with whom I've worked for over 20 years. It’s really more of an essay on baseball than a Facebook post. I’ve known Cody since he was three. There is no one alive anywhere who loves the game more than he does.
His goal in life is to be a general manager of a major league team. He spent this summer after graduation searching for his next gig and making a few bucks here and there as a Patched Umpire for any baseball or softball league that would hire him. At the moment, he’s working his way up the ladder. He’s got a position as Media Director with a minor league hockey team (http://www.jackalopes.org/) in Odessa, TX where among many other things, he is the on-air broadcaster. He gets paid an intern salary (not much money, LOTS of experience).
Most importantly, he’s been a Cubs fan all of his life.
Here’s his post as it appeared on Facebook today, the day after the Cubs won the 2016 Series. (Quick note for those not familiar, “Zayde” is the Jewish term for grandfather and “Bubbie" for grandmother. Dudley was and Shirley still is, two of the most die hard Cubs fans who ever lived.) Anyway, here it is:
From Cody Lefkowitz:
"I can't believe it. It's only been 22 (Almost 23) years in my lifetime, but I feel like I was there for the full 108. My heart has been broken. I've cheered, I've screamed, I've cried. I couldn't have asked for anything better. EVERY... SINGLE... BIRTHDAY wish in the past 22 years has been for a Cubs World Series. I go to petting zoos just to feed the Billy Goats in hopes that the baseball gods would look upon it and it would be enough.
I've gone through the Stages of Grief and the only thing left is acceptance... I still can't believe it. From 1,232 miles away, I'm dressed head-to-toe in Cubbie Blue, wearing my W flag as a cape, because this team is full of heroes. Every last one of them.
From the goat, to the black cat, onto Bull Durham's Buckner-esque play, all the way to Bartman, I've stuck with this team. Everyone says we did this for Harry, and while he is the Poster Child for the Cubs, he is not Cubs baseball.
This team did it for the legends that have left us: Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Jack Brickhouse, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks. They did it for the legends that are still with us: Andre Dawson, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Kerry Wood, Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, and Mark Grace. This team has come in to debunk these "curses" and defy the laws that have been set for them.
I think about my love for the team and my love for the game in general. It's all thanks to my Zayde. 10 years ago, he was taken, but from the start, he's been the biggest fan. Him and my bubbie had season tickets for years. Not only did they do this for the legends, but they did this for the most legendary fans any sport has to offer."
Below is a pic posted by his oldest brother, Jesse. Cody is third from the left. All three boys are in Cubs gear. Jesse, the oldest brother is second from the left. Randy, the middle brother is on the right. On the left is a mystery guest (or at least a mystery to me.)
- Jim Vestal