Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!
I can still hear Harry Caray, a famous Chicago Cubs radio broadcaster, announcing this as the Chicago Cubs would win a game.
I can still hear Harry Caray’s voice belt out “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.
“Someday the Cubs are going to win the World Series” so said Harry Caray. And someday they did. And I will never forget the joy I felt when they finally won the World Series last fall, in the seventh game of the series and the first time since 1908.
Wow. I wish that my dad would have been alive to witness this. He had to be the biggest Cub fan in history. Well, maybe not the biggest, but one of the most loyal. He shared that title with his sister, my Aunt Peg. My dad and my aunt had daily phone conversations about those darn Cubs or even harsher names for the managers over the years.
But down in Dad’s heart he always loved the Cubs.
When my dad was a young man, he was quite the pitcher. He loved playing baseball, but most young boys did. It was different for my dad. He grew up during the great depression and when I say grew up, I mean not only in years but in what he had to do to help out his family, made him grow up fast.
Dad had to leave his education and go to work at the age of 16 to help take care of his mother and siblings. He had a full time job and when work was done, he played baseball.
I heard the stories over and over as I grew up. How dad “whiffed 12 batters” and how he would pitch two full games, one right after the other. The entire towns of Clinton and Camanche would come out to the ballgames, many played on the elementary school baseball field and some in the riverfront stadium in Clinton.
The players of this day did not get paid. Their uniforms were some that were given to them, often patched and held together with some sort of tape. They looked pretty ragged. No protective equipment, simply a bat, a ball and a glove. And some didn’t even have gloves, so they had to share. When a player was in the outfield from either team, when it was that particular’s team turn to bat, they would leave their gloves on the ground for the opposing team to use.
They played for the love of the game.
The “Camanche Indians” were what we would consider now a semi-pro team, much like the Iowa Cubs based in Des Moines with the Chicago Cubs.
Although there was no official affiliation with the famous Chicago Cubs, you better believe that whoever it was that took notice of those home town teams was watching.
Around 1950, my dad was asked by the Chicago Cub organization to come and pitch for them. I was only three years old, so I really wasn’t aware of this, but I can only imagine the excitement he must have felt.
He didn’t accept the invitation. Not sure why, something about my Mom not wanting to move to the windy city of Chicago.
With all the excitement of the Cubs winning the World Series last year, I began to hear from family and friends back in eastern Iowa about the possibility of me writing a book about this group of baseball players. This group of men were not only accomplished athletes, they all were very hard working men. They all were married, with families and mouths to feed. I have been told, they were all good, loyal friends with each other, and all characters.
Again, no pay, they played for the love of the game.
I tossed around the idea of writing a book about these town heroes and just didn’t know if I had the time or the energy. Then a few things started to fall into place that changed my mind.
First, Sam McKenrick, is the last living member of this team. He wants to talk baseball with me. Sam has children my age, we all grew up together.
Then other community members from Camanche were in touch with me. They want me to write about this team. They would share their remembrances about their ballplayers with me.
Still undecided, I thought that I would do some research and call a meeting of family and fans back in eastern Iowa. The meeting was held at the Camanche Library and the reception and turnout was amazing.
The final thing that made me say yes, was a telephone call and a visit to the Camanche Historical Society.
They had a video that they thought I would want to see. It was made just three months before the death of my dad. A reunion of sorts with the remaining ball team members was held and they all talked about their time and experiences playing ball together.
My dad died 18 years ago this month. And there he was on this video that I didn’t even know existed. He talked about his time with the team and his friends and I actually got to hear my dad’s voice. I can’t tell you how emotional that was for me and still is. It’s one thing when you pick up a photograph of someone you love and look at it, but to hear his voice after 18 years was beyond description.
What that voice of my dad’s did was tell me that I had to write this book. It was like he was helping me make the decision. Yes, I need to preserve this part of my hometown history and the legacy that these men left. People want to hear about them. They want to laugh at the stories that family members tell and the antics that took place after games.
So, yes, I will be writing this book to honor these great men and the fine sport. It’s going to take some time and lots of research. But I have good people waiting to help me through this.
I owe this to my dad and his teammates to tell their stories so that future generations will get to know them and this history will not be lost.
I feel that my dad pushed me in this direction and I hope that he will smile down on me from heaven and be pleased at what I am doing.
And, I am sure that Dad and Aunt Peg are side by side watching the Cubs, drinking a beer together and chewing out the umpire.
After all, I am sure that by now the umpires in Heaven have finally gotten those glasses that my dad believed they either needed, or cleaned the ones they had, because they seemed to have difficulty seeing the strike zone.
As I put their stories on paper, I am sure that there will be laughter and tears, page by page, and all for the love of the game.
Lynn Marr-Moore is a contributing writer for the Tri-County Times and Nevada Journal. She lives near Kelley.