Change is an important part of life says Scott Simon, now a devoted husband and father who at one time was
happy being single and childless.
But for Simon, the award winning host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, there’s one change that’s just not going to happen. Enamored (or should we say obsessed) with the Chicago Cubs is a never ending constant.
“I can’t imagine not being a Cubs fan,” says Simon who grew up in Chicago and attended games with his father. “I’ll be a Cubs fan until the hereafter. I’m convinced the Almighty God would say to me in heaven, I gave you a big test–like the trials of Abraham and that was the Cubs.”
After 108 years in the proverbial desert, Simon has written about this passion in his recently released (The Blue Rider Press, 2017; $23).
It didn’t occur to me that I’d ever write this book,” says Simon who like many of us thought our Cubbies would always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
But their enduring losses weren’t because of a goat says Simon.
Sure, Cubs authorities kicked Billy Sianis and the baby goat he nursed back to health out of the box office seats that had cost him $7.20 during the 1945 World Series against Detroit. There was talk that the goat, named Murphy, smelled like a…well…goat. But the cops and the ushers had always accepted free drinks at the Sianis’s tavern which he’d renamed—in honor of his goat–the Billy Goat Tavern. Sianis was angry and for years told reporters he sent a telegram to Phil Wrigley reading “Who stinks now?” at the end of each season when the Cubs failed to make the Series.
But the real reason they didn’t play in the World Series for another 71 years has to do with racism.
“Historically, though it eventually got hung on the Sianis family but no one at the time thought that,” says Simon who when he was writing his book Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball learned that the Boston Red Sox had a chance to sign the Hall of Famer three months before the Brooklyn Dodgers added him to their roster in 1947. “Ernie Banks and Gene Baker didn’t come to the Cubs as their first black players until 1953. They could have signed some great players before that but they didn’t. So it wasn’t the Curse of the Billy Goat but the curse of not signing African Americans until later that made the Cubs lose.”
Simon isn’t sure if the Cubs will repeat their victory.
“I think the hardest thing to do is repeat a professional championship, everyone thinks they figured out how to beat you,” he says. “But the core of this team is signed and is very good. But, as anyone will tell you, only so much of what gets you to the World Series you realize there are so many unforeseen things that can happen like injuries is talent.”
Even if they don’t win—ever again—Simon won’t waiver in his devotion to his team.
“I would have continued to be a Cubs fan even if they never won,” he says. “And I will always be a Cubs fan not matter what.”
What: Scott Simon has several book signings in the Chicago area.
When & Where:
April 11 at 6 p.m.
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL
April 12 at 3:45 p.m.
Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Conference Center
130 East Randolph Street, First Floor,
April 12 at 7 p.m.
Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville
123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL
April 13 at 7 p.m.
Barnes and Noble
55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL