Monday, March 13, 2017

The Biggest Cubs Fans On* Earth

Because it is my all time favorite short story I have mentioned on more than one occasion a work by W.P. Kinsella called "The Last Pennant Before Armageddon".  In it the manager of an implausibly contending Chicago Cubs teams begins having strange dreams....

"The five people gathered around God were, Al Tiller discovered, representative of baseball fans, how many he wasn't able to determine, but certainly a large contingent, all apparently deceased.  Lobbying, Tiller supposed, was the word for what they were doing.  Each one, in turn, pleaded politely with God to see that the Chicago Cubs won the pennant."

In the story God informs the fans, and Al Tiller, that if the Cubs win the National League pennant the world will come to an end.  I believed this on some level - generations of failure have to have some cosmic cause - until last year.  2016, a year when a great many implausible things happened, had the hapless Cubs not only win their first National League pennant since the fiery dawn of the nuclear age, then went on to win the World Series to boot.  And we all seem to still be here.

Imagine my surprise then when strolling through the Bohemian National Cemetery and encountered this:

It is a small scale replica of The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, where the most devoted, fanatically devoted Cubs fans can have their ashes interred.  An impressive example of After Life imitating Art.

Above you see seats somehow spirited out of the ball park.  There is a home plate.  The style of brick is authentic.  400 feet is in fact the distance to straight center field.  Of course visiting in early spring the famous Ivy was not leafed out to complete the illusion.

I did not see faint spectral figures sitting in the seats, but in full sunlight one would hardly expect to.  If you lingered on until just before cemetery closing time I think definite Presences would be perceived.

Here is the Roll of Honor.  The most Loyal among the loyalist fans on earth.

The little memorial offering above hints at the origins of this marvelous folly.  

The mausoleum - or to be pedantic, columbarium - is the realized vision of a man named Dennis Mascari.  Obviously a serious Cubs fan he had come away from a visit to his father's grave with more than the expected amount of sadness.  So what would be a fitting theme to lift the spirits of surviving family?

In 2009 "Beyond the Vines" opened.  It gave Cubs fans the opportunity to have their ashes placed into an urn with the Cubs logo on it and then put into a niche in this replica of the Cubs home park.  The project of course has gotten plenty of attention, as all mad ventures seem to. So far it is somewhat "under booked", just 20 or so occupants of the 288 niches.

But even that is fitting.  During the long, long years without a pennant the Cubs often played to sparse crowds.  The fact that until fairly recently they only played day games probably contributed a bit.  On a sunny afternoon when lesser fans were at work you could tune in and see the True Believers sitting alone or in small groups out in the bleachers.

Dennis Mascari tragically died young.  Here is his memorial marker.  Notice that it says "Please tap here after they win"?  He didn't mean after they win a game, he meant after they win it all.

So of course I gave it a quick tap.

I know he heard me.

* Whether these fans are On Earth or not is a semantic question.  They are departed and are presumably in some form of South Side Valhalla.  But since their urns are in an above ground location I say "On Earth" can still apply.

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

You realize that one of your ancestors will find the Indians monument in 2248. It will be erected right after the Indians win the Series or the Browns have a championship season. (Not necessarily getting to the Super Bowl finally.) My great-grand kids may see that...
The Cubbie Folks have not got any edge on the Cleveland fans.

Sucks to be us.