“Say it ain’t so.” Chicago and the fans of baseball are saying it again, but this time it isn’t the White Sox of 1919. The unbelieving eyes looked towards the Cub Fan, Cub Man, Harry Caray.
I will say, when I heard the news February 14 that he was hospitalized, I thought nothing of it. He’s bounced back before. Harry was like baseball. Harry was baseball. Both suffered many times, he from strokes and a car accident, and baseball from war and strikes. Within the past few years, baseball fans seemed to be in decline and so was Harry’s health. But baseball is to live forever. It can’t die. Harry was to live forever. He couldn’t die.
“And it’s going way back! It might be! It could be! It is! A home run! Holy cow!”
But on February 18, when reports were grim, my heart, just like millions of other baseball fans, stopped. Though it was early in the day, we knew. This would be the day the music died. At 6:10 CST the music stopped in Wrigleyville.
As I think towards attending another game at Wrigley Field, my heart is stabbed. Without Harry, Wrigley has no seventh inning. If somehow the music plays on, no seventh inning will go by without a tear remembering a legend. How will I, or any other fan, make it through the seventh inning stretch? It will hurt. It will never be the same,
“Sammy Asos is up at bat. That’s what we need here, A.S.O.S. Cubs down by three.”
Games on television and radio will not be the same either. Without Harry it just won’t feel right. The home runs will be silent. The greetings will be gone. The backward names will go unpronounced.
A legend who went through tough times, came out, and went through them again. A legend who was loved by everyone, and loved everyone. A man who can never be replaced. He was one of a kind. His homerun calls, his style, and his character can never be matched. They are all his and always will be. How many sportscasters can say that?
“Just want to say hello to Greg Nolan from Lansing, Michigan, who is here at the ballpark today.”
Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is that he never was able to broadcast a Cubs World Series. His trademark “Cubs Win!! Cubs Win!! Holy Cow!!” will never be able to be used for the big game. Though he never saw the Cubs win a World Series, he remained hopeful and excited throughout the good, the bad, and the ugly times with the Cubs.
Harry was an optimist. He started every game anew. It didn’t matter to him if yesterday was played horribly and it was a slaughter. The losing streaks didn’t matter either. It was a new game, the Cubs were going to play today, and they had every chance to win it. He was going to stick with the Cubs to the last inning, and he did. He had no plans on retiring and though last season was one of the worst for the Cubs, especially in the start, he was planning to be with them for the 1998 season.
“All right now! Let me hear ya! Ah, one! Ah, two! Ah, three! TAKE me out to the ball game. TAKE me out with the crowd! Buy me some peanuts and Cracker jack, I don’t care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the Cubbies, if they don’t win, it’s a shame! For it’s ONE! TWO! THREE strikes, you’re out at the old ball game! All right! Let’s get some runs!”
Harry hasn’t left us. He will be remembered. He will live on. Every home run will be hit for him, every “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” though tough, will be sung for him. Every game will be won for him. Not a single play will be made without a Cub thinking about Harry. He will be missed, but he won’t be forgotten.
Harry, we will miss you. So long, buddy.