After watching the Cubs finish off a tremendous weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates, WGN treated us all once again with more baseball on Sunday night. But this was not a game; this was a trip down memory lane that featured all of the sights and sounds from the last 60 years of Cubs’ baseball. The 2-hour special, Cubs Forever, was packed full of highlights from some of the greatest games in Cubs history as well as stories told from our heroes of the diamond.
WGN reminded us all why we have followed the Cubs so intently year after year after year with a beautiful tribute to the most perfect marriage in all of professional sports….the Chicago Cubs and Channel 9, WGN. The first telecast of Cubs’ baseball on WGN was aired on April 16, 1948 and as fate would have it, the Cubs lost the game. But expectations have changed over the years. Gone are the days of the “Lovable Losers” moniker as the reoccurring theme of the special was of hope that ‘the day‘ will come soon.
For 2 hours, WGN rolled out a who’s who in Cubs’ baseball history. From Derrek Lee and Kerry Wood to Ken Holtzman and Andy Pafko. Jim Frey called the Cubs “America’s Team” and said WGN made the Cubs not only a Chicago team but also an American team.
The show featured tributes to Jimmy Farrell and Tom “Otis” Hellmann as well as Rick Fuhs, the Cubs scoreboard operator since 1989, and Fred Washington who runs the inside of the scoreboard and is responsible for running either the “W” or “L” flag up the pole depending on the outcome of the game.
There was footage of Billy Williams Day and of the first time Ron Santo clicked his heals on June 22, 1969 following a game winning home run by Jim Hickman. The highlights of The Sandberg Game on June 23, 1984 brought back many personal memories. The replays of Ryno going deep not once but twice off of Bruce Sutter still brings chills nearly 24 years later.
Jack Brickhouse discussed the origins of “Hey! Hey!” and recalled the first time he used it was following a home run by the Mayor of Wrigley Field, Hank Sauer.
Harry Caray was prominently featured, and for good reason. He helped sell the Cubs to an entire generation and if not for him coming along at the perfect time, the popularity of the Cubs would not be what it is today. Caray explained the origin of his home run call….”It might be, it could be, it is! Holy Cow!”
With the remarks made by a certain broadcaster from Cincinnati this past week, it was great to hear Harry Caray’s words from not so long ago, “There are no fans more loyal than the Chicago Cubs fans. Believe it.”
A few of the moments highlighted were:
- Ernie Banks’ 500th Home Run – May 12, 1970
- Greg Maddux 3000th Strikeout – July 26, 2005
- A Walk in the Park – September 30, 1984
- Willie Smith’s Game Winning Home Run – April 8, 1969
- Slammin’ Sammy Sunday – September 13, 1998 (#61 and #62)
- Milt Pappas’ Almost Perfect Game – September 2, 1972
- The First Night Game – August 8, 1988
- Don Cardwell’s No Hitter – May 15, 1960
- The 23-22 Game – May 17, 1979
- Game 163 – September 28, 1998
- Burt Hooton’s No Hitter – April 16, 1972
- Ken Holtman’s No Hitter – August 19, 1969
- Kerry Wood’s 20 Strikeout Game – May 6, 1998
- Cubs Clinch First Title in 39 Years – September 24, 1984
The special even dubbed the fans, “The Faithful” and finished by asking several former players what they think would happen when the Cubs finally win the World Series.
Yes, the special was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. But for one of the Faithful, it was a look back at all the reasons why this team is so special.
Thank you Jack Rosenberg.