The term “die-hard Cubs fan” was probably born in the marketing department of the Chicago Tribune back in the early 1980s, after the Tribune Company bought the Cubs, and Wrigley Field along with it, from the Wrigley family. The idea of a “die-hard” wasn’t used in the days of Wrigley ownership.
But the ’80s vibe — which seemed to be personified by Harry Caray and his schtick — lent itself to the idea that a Cubs fan had to be of the “die-hard” variety. As if following a team that hasn’t played in the World Series in most of our lifetimes isn’t credible enough. Cubs fans fancied themselves as “die-hard” years before Bruce Willis ever did. Yippie-ki-ay.
The Cubs began holding an annual fan convention — the Cubs Convention — during the Tribune era, and the Ricketts family has embraced that tradition. And why not, because it’s a chance to get together with players and fans in the dead of winter. Long may this continue, as a means of biding the time until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The Cubs Convention has always sold out in days gone by. Never before has a media buy been needed to help sell passes to the convention. But this year is different. The results on the field have been disappointing for a while now, and there’s literally no expectation that contention will be on the horizon before 2015. So enthusiasm is naturally flagging among the Cubs faithful.
But the show must go on. Those who have gathered at this year’s Cubs Convention — which, for the record, will not include this writer — are there to rub elbows and take pictures and get autographs from the players, past, present and future. They are the die-hards, in every way imaginable. Every team has a similar group, no matter what name they refer to themselves as.
The NFL is building toward its conclusion, and the other team sports are doing their thing, too, but the days will continue to get longer, and the time until baseball returns will keep ticking away. Spring can’t get here soon enough.