Having grown up on the St. Louis end of Interstate 55, I have a deep appreciation for the importance of the rivalry between Cardinals and the Cubs. It’s great that the two teams are playing meaningful games in terms of the standings at this time of year, but games between these two teams are always meaningful, no matter what the standings say.
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Cubs and Cardinals fans don’t have much in common with each other, but Harry Caray stands as an outsized exception to this rule. Harry got his start in St. Louis, and broadcast Cardinals games for 25 years in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. After being fired after the 1969 season, he went to the Oakland A’s, the Chicago White Sox and, finally, to the Chicago Cubs. He became a cultural phenomenon in Chicago, and even though he’s been dead for 17 years, he’s still an iconic part of the Cubs experience. His namesake restaurants are here in Chicago. His statue is, too. He was, and always will be, the Cub Fan/Bud Man to me.
Cubs promo items given away at Wrigley Field are sometimes accepted by Cardinals fans, but more often than not they are declined. The same thing goes for Cardinals items offered to Cubs fans in Busch Stadium. Who wants something with their enemy’s logo on it, anyway?
But a Harry Caray Bobblehead is another story. The Cubs loved Harry, too. The Cardinals realize this, of course, and their Harry Caray bobblehead was rendered the way he must have looked in the St. Louis days: dark hair, glasses smaller than the oversized ones he wore later on, and a rather conservative tie around his neck. I never knew that Harry Caray, but ours from the ’80s and ’90s seemed like he was infinitely more fun.
The Cardinals have been riding high in the National Central all season long, and they had a level of success in their Harry Caray years that the Cubs never did get to enjoy with him in the booth.
Harry once said the Cubs are going to get to the World Series, but it might take a few years. Well it’s been almost 20 years since we last heard your voice, Harry, and this might be the year. It could be the year. We’ll find out pretty soon if it is the year.
The Cardinals took the battle of the Harry Caray images on Monday, but the Cubs won the battle on the field, and convincingly so. Dexter Fowler homered to lead off the game, and it was all downhill from there for the Cardinals. The Cubs won by a final score of 9-0, and the game itself wasn’t even that close.
The Cardinals still have a healthy lead in their division, and the Cubs have a 7.5 game mountain to climb over the last four weeks of the regular season. But as St. Louis’ own Yogi Berra once said, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Here’s looking forward to Tuesday night’s game.