One summer afternoon, sometime in the mid-80s, we were sitting around the kitchen table at my friend Floyd’s place. It was the 2nd story of a typical Chicago brick three flat in Wrigleyville. The back door was open, the flies were buzzing around the screen door and the rattling, clattering, dull roar of the L trains paced the afternoon as they rumbled by along the elevated tracks that ran down the alley. It was hot and the wind was absolutely still. The curtains hung listlessly and our attempts to conjure up a breeze by opening every window in the place were fruitless. It was a classic August afternoon in Chicago. Cooler near the lake.
We spent the day chatting about work, people we knew, all the stories of the day and the stories from our past. Attenuated by the heat and humidity, the tone was quiet, punctuated by soft laughter as we shared a common memory. During a lull, we suddenly heard a distinctive sound, a sound that could only come at that time, in that place, in that season. It was a sound that was distinctively American, distinctively Chicago, distinctively north side, and distinctively of that era and no other. It was the sound of “A one, a two…” followed by 30,000 people singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” led, if you could ever use that term in reference to his singing, by Harry Caray.
We sat transfixed, as the lyrics echoed through the neighborhood. We didn’t utter a sound until the last note had faded away, melting into a passing L train.
It is one of my favorite all time baseball memories, and of the dozens of Cub games I attended, that game remains my favorite, even though I wasn’t even there.