It was a week to remember as the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs came back to Wrigley Field as a team for the first time since November when they broke the 108 year championship drought.
Opening Night was electric. The rain came and the wind off of Lake Michigan made it less than desirable conditions, but nobody was going to leave until we did what we were there for. My job was to sing the Star Spangled Banner for the Cubs home opener for the 33rd straight year. That was it… “a minute-and-a-half of solid work,” I love to say. The cold, damp air tried its best to give me a chill and try to knock me off my game, but I would have none of it. I hunkered down on the Cubs bench in the dugout where a heater was blowing warm air on my feet, remembering that cold, wet feet are the mortal enemy of my voice. The chill on my feet has a rotten affect on keeping vocally loose.
With @Julianna Zobrist (wife of the 2016 WS MVP, Ben), waiting and watching for the moment to sing God Bless America and the National Anthem respectfully one after the other, we watched some unforgettable moments from the bench in the dugout. As timing worked out, David Ross, a back-up catcher who caught the heart of the City of Chicago with his spirited play last year before he announced his formal retirement as a player after the Cubs season, appeared on the huge video board live on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. To witness the reactions of his former teammates was priceless, and the comments were hilarious. They still love the oldest player in MLB history to hit a home run in a WS game. He did it in Game 7… a feat that earned him the honor of being carried off the field.
But the highlight of the evening was certainly the raising of the Championship Banner in centerfield, immediately followed by the parade of Cubs players, led by Anthony Rizzo coming out from under the Bleachers, carrying the Commissioner’s Trophy as the Baseball Champions of the World.
Finally, the players were announced and the Cubs and Dodgers hugged their respective baselines and the pre-game concluded with my singing of the National Anthem. Taking nothing for granted and filling my lungs with the deepest breath of gratitude that I could gather… the song began and the moment was captured forever. It was a wonderful way to spend an evening
Two nights later, the Rickett’s family, (owners of the Cubs) put on a show of class and generosity that will leave an indelible mark in my mind as the Championship rings were distributed to the players and ownership. Getting a good look at these magnificent pieces of jewelry, made me even more anxious about receiving my ring from the Cubs… maybe even in time for next week’s Wayne’s Words Newsletter.
I’ll let you know.