Karen Lewis to the City Club of Chicago: On baseball and budgets. “When I was a kid, I used to dream that one day I’d play right along-side Minnie Minoso or Sandy Koufax.”
“Let me say I told you in the beginning that I love baseball. But in 1969 I fell out of love with the sport after the Cubs lost to the raggedly Mets. I couldn’t believe it. I was done. And up until 2009 I wanted nothing more to do with the sport that as a little kid I once vowed to make history as the first female pitcher in the major leagues. I turned my sights to tennis and every now and then a good ole’ boxing match.
“Now I’m a huge White Sox fan. Going to the games now is bringing back all of those feel good memories I had with my Father—and I’m glad to be in love with the great American past time again. But you know, my jilted love affair with the Cubs got me to thinking. There’s always a way back in with baseball. Despite all of the crushed dreams of many Cub fans year after year they continue to fill up the stadium. No World Series win–but the fans still show up. Despite the curse of the goat the fans show up. They cheer. They love the players. They root for the home team.
“When the Cubs lose a game they don’t call for Wrigley Field to close down. They don’t want the entire team dismantled. Despite empty seats, the stadium isn’t accused of being underutilized. The owners don’t kill the franchise. They don’t bastardize the team. They don’t demoralize the coach who then demoralizes the players. The owners don’t blame the fans for every missed ball or strike. They honor the players’ contracts. No one questions their salaries or tries to steal their pensions and rarely does the public attack their union. They invest in the stadium—they want to make it better, and better and even outstanding.
“Year after year—despite individual player performance, despite game losses and near wins—the fans show continue to show up. We keep cheering for our Cubbies. We know they are winners. We dream. We believe.
“Do the same for our children. Cheer them on. Invest in them. Love them. Support their parents. Support their teachers. Support their schools. Let’s work together. Let’s win, Chicago. Let’s win.”