Today’s Cubs Birthdays (October 26)
~Hillary Rodham Clinton 1947 (Cubs fan 1947-Present)
She grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, an unabashed Cubs fan. Even though she later claimed to have been a Yankees fan, there is documentary evidence to prove her Cubs love. In 1993, when she was the First Lady, she accepted induction into the Emil Verban society, the Washington-based Cubs Fan Club. Bruce Ladd, who is the founder of the Emil Verban Society, recently revealed the content of her letter accepting induction. If this isn’t a Cubs fan, there is no such thing. She wrote:
“I am pleased to accept your generous offer of membership into the Emil Verban Memorial Society. In accepting I must say that the Tribune Co.’s decision to let Messrs. Dawson and Maddux go does not increase my optimism for 1993. This could be a truly grievous example of false economy, unless, of course, the Tribune uses the savings to acquire better editorial writers. I have been following the Cubs for over 35 years and have developed a set of expectations that will probably be met. However, hope springs eternal.”
The following year Mrs. Clinton was even more obvious about her loyalties; she appeared at Wrigley Field on opening day 1994 to throw out the first pitch. She later sat in the booth with Harry Caray and sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” with him. At one point, Harry grabbed her and gave her a big kiss. Only a Cubs fan could have survived that.
~Steve Ontiveros 1961 (Cubs 1977-1980)
He may not have been a good replacement for Bill Madlock at third base, but Steve Ontiveros wasn’t terrible. He came within one hit of batting .300 in 1977, a year in which ¾ of the Cubs infield was mustachioed, including good ol’ #16. He played parts of three other seasons with the Cubs and didn’t do much before being released in the middle of the 1980 season. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered as the best mustachioed third baseman with a last name starting with “O” in Chicago Cubs history. No one else even comes close.
~Otto Vogel 1899 (Cubs 1923-1924)
Otto was a star in college at the University of Illinois, known as the Babe Ruth of the Big Ten. (He also starred in football). The Cubs sent him right to the big leagues, where he didn’t quite live up to the Babe Ruth name. He fell just 713 homers short of the Babe. His one homer was hit in July of 1923. After his playing career he became the head coach at the University of Iowa. He held that job for 39 years.
~Tommy Griffith 1889 (Cubs 1925)
Griffith played 13 seasons in the big leagues, the last of which was with the Cubs. The rightfielder hit .285. When the season ended, Griffith hung up his spikes for good.
~Harry Chapman 1885 (Cubs 1912)
His debut game in the big leagues on October 6, 1912, was also the last game of the season for the Cubs. The catcher caught Larry Cheney, went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base, and the Cubs won the game 4-3 over St. Louis at West Side Grounds. It was his only game in a Cubs uniform. Harry later caught for Cincinnati and St. Louis.
~Andy Sommers 1865 (White Stockings 1889)
Not to be confused with the lead guitarist of The Police, this Andy Sommers was a catcher/outfielder for the first half of the 1889 season with the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings). He got into twelve games and hit .222 before being released in July. Sommers also played for New York, Boston, Indy, and Cleveland.
~Pat Sajak 1946 (Cubs fan 1946-Present)
He grew up in Chicago (born in 1946), attended Columbia College (left in 1968 to join the military), and returns to the town of his birth often. He’s also a huge baseball fan, which begs the question: Is he a Cubs fan or a Sox fan. The Chicago Reader posed that question to him last year and he responded… “You know, I get asked that a lot. I’m a fan of both teams. I’ve never understood why I had to hate one or the other. I grew up close enough to Comiskey that I could hear the fireworks after games, but I watched the Cubs on TV.” He went into a little more detail in 2009 to the MLB network…”I think what drew me to the Cubs is that they did something in the 1950s that was unheard of at the time. They would televise all of their home games. I would come home from school and instead of watching a cartoon or Jerry Springer, I would watch a baseball game. I’m not sure if Mr. Wrigley was cheap and wanted more television dollars, or (was) a visionary, but I think he created a lot of Cubs fans like me who would come home to watch the games. It’s hard to realize that in this ESPN era, televised games were pretty rare and a home-televised game was unheard of.” Among his favorite Cubs players: Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams. His favorite year? 1969. “I tend to remember more odd moments,” he once said, “like being in Wrigley with 721 people attending. That was a highlight. I’ve seen the Cubs on the losing end of a lot of exciting games. To me the most exciting season in Cubs history was 1969 with Leo Durocher. It was such a heartbreaker because it really looked like it was their year (and) they deserved to win. Then this upstart team from New York got so hot and, well, (for the Mets to win) the Cubs had to go in the opposite direction.” Needless to say, Sajak has returned to Wrigley Field numerous times, has thrown out the first pitch, and once even got a chance to sit in the Cubs booth with Harry Caray. “I met Harry fairly late in his career and he could not have been sweeter,” he explained to the MLB network. “It was funny — as you know, Harry would spend the game talking about ‘Misses Johnson’ in the hospital in Cedar Rapids while occasionally sprinkling in some play-by-play, and I made a gentle joke about it and he got serious, not defensive, but in an explanatory way. He said that he considered those fans to be very important (saying), “if I can lift their spirits while they are in the hospital (then) I’m more interested in that than what the last pitch was.” Like many of the old-time broadcasters, he knew that it was television and fans could see the game, so he did a ‘TV show.’ (The viewer) saw the game and heard Harry’s version of it. Some loved it and some did not, but you cannot deny that baseball is far less rich when it loses people of that generation.” He has since been asked to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch, and he dedicated it to Harry. That’s a Cubs fan. That’s Pat Sajak.