|Cardinal fan chirps no big deal to Union City Cub man |
|Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010 3:17 pm |
Being a Chicago Cub fan requires thick skin.
Union City resident Al Childrey looks over some of the autographs he obtained a Chicago Cubs’ fantasy camp.
And it doesn’t all have to do with the team’s 102-year World Series drought.
Buried deep in the heart of St. Louis Cardinal country, Cub faithful like Al Childrey and others in a small but tight-knit fraternity are used to being chided by fans of the North Siders’ most fierce rivals.
The legions of local St. Louis followers regularly remind Cubbie die-hards of the Redbirds’ National League-best 10 World Series championships — second only to the New York Yankees’ 27 such titles.
And they routinely take great pleasure in rubbing Chicago fans’ noses in the fact that their team — one of two remaining charter members of the National League — holds the dubious distinction of having the longest championship drought of any North America sports club.
Childrey himself is admittedly often taunted by rabid St. Louis fans who tease him with reminders of billy goat curses, black cats and Steve Bartman in the Cubs’ unforgettable recent collapses and failures that have seen Chicago fail to even reach the Fall Classic since 1945.
He laughs and offers a quick reply, though, when asked why many Redbird fans seem so consumed with his favorite team’s fortunes that last produced a World Series winner in 1908.
“I call ’em all ‘closet Cub fans’ because a lot of them really do want to see us win one,” grinned Childrey, who attended Randy Hundley’s Chicago Cubs Fantasy League Camp in Mesa Arizona in late January.
Childrey is a breakfast regular with a trio of St. Louis loyaltists — fellow local businessmen Truman Johnson, Art Sparks and Tim Doyle.
All give him regular good-natured grief over the Cubbies.
“I catch it from those three all the time, whether it’s during the season or during the winter,” Childrey claimed. “They’re pretty rough on me.”
Past Cub players from several different eras were part of Childrey’s recent fantasy camp experience.
Among them were Lee Smith, who was an all-star reliever for both the Cubs and Cardinals during his illustrious 18-year playing career, and Jose Cardenal, who likewise played for both Chicago and St. Louis as an outfielder.
Childrey said he didn’t think to ask either where their loyalties were as far as past teams.
In typical Cub fan form, however, Childrey — without hesitation — offered up his own personal opinion of baseball team pecking order.
“There’s no better team than the Cubs,” he said with both pride and a straight face.
“My life experience as both a past and present Cubs fan will tell you that I’m not a fair-weather fan. The Cubs are simply just the best.”
That’ll be more fodder for his regular breakfast crew come Monday morning.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.