A father's gift: How I learned to love the Chicago Cubs

My father stood in line outside of the Friendly Confines, waiting to get us our tickets for a handful of games for the upcoming season.

He couldn’t wait for this to be the season.

My father raised me on all things Chicago: Lake Michigan, pizza and sports.

I was also raised a lovable loser, understanding that often you learn more from defeat than victory.

My father and I watched hundreds of games together -- he in his recliner and me on the couch.

He took me to my first Cubs game when I was still a fan of Winnie the Pooh.

He taught me about Cracker Jacks and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and Harry Caray and Swingin’ Sammy Sosa. He taught me about MJ and Scottie, about Medinah and Comiskey, about Super Bowl shuffles and Billy Goat curses.

I was raised on Barbies, Beanie Babies, balks, Blackhawks and Brett Favre touchdown passes.

My father was my constant sports companion. He was the guy who yelled, "Drop in the hole!" when Greg Norman was going for birdie. To this day, I can’t imagine screaming at a slow-rolling golf ball.

When I told him in sixth grade that I wanted to be a sports journalist who one day lived in Wrigleyville, he told me if that’s what I wanted, we’d find a way to make it happen.

He knew it wouldn’t be easy, me being a girl and all. But he never once mentioned that most females didn’t sit in the stands keeping a scorecard, let alone the press box.

His faith in my dreams fueled me every day.

A decade later, I graduated from Indiana University with a journalism degree with a focus in sports. That degree and my father’s belief in me led me from Oklahoma to Ohio to here in Houston, covering athletes trying to follow their own dreams.

On Wednesday, I watched the Cubs en route to their first World Series win in 71 years. My 3-month-old nephew, whose middle name is his grandfather’s first, sat on my lap.

Today, the Cubs will play in their first World Series game in Wrigleyville in more than seven decades.

Everyone I know from my childhood is trying to get back to Clark and Addison for the game. After years of being on the losing end, we’re now the fans of World Series title contenders. The emotion of it can be told through hundreds of thousands of stories, of birthdays celebrated in the bleachers, proposals made in the ballpark and hundreds of fans who came before.

Allan Kuzydym raised me on broken bats, Bazooka bubble gum, bleacher bums and Bartman. The last thing he knew about the Chicago Cubs was the Steve Bartman incident, the famous play when a fan reached for a foul ball during the eighth inning of the 2003 NLCS Game 6. He went into the offseason with the pain only the lovable losers understand.

Maybe next year.

My dad never saw a game of the 2004 season or much of the heartbreak of the last decade. But man, he would have loved the 2016 Cubs -- and the 2016 Indians.

My father raised me to enjoy both sides of the ball, both teams in the dugout and all of the athlete’s dreams that got them there. He raised me to believe in people who never quit. And to always believe, that no matter the rain or the shine, there will always be next year.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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