Mr. Simon will discuss his latest book,
Free and open to the public.
A book signing will follow the program. The Book Stall will have books available for purchase.
For more information, call 847-256-6930.
One of America's most admired writers, storytellers, and broadcasters, Scott Simon has worn the identity of “Cubs fan” like a battered badge of honor for six decades. Like so many other diehard fans, he never thought he’d live to see the Cubs win the World Series. Now, in his latest book, comprised of part memoir and part club history, Simon shares with readers his heartfelt reflections on his beloved team and the agony and ecstasy of a lifetime of super fandom.
"My politics, religion, and personal tastes change with whatever I learn from life," Simon writes. "But being a Cubs fan is my nature, my heritage, and probably somewhere in my chromosomes. If you prick me, I'm quite sure I'll bleed Cubby blue."
Moving, humorous, and spirited, My Cubs is more than a love letter to Simon’s cherished Cubbies and a tribute to the fans and his hometown. The book also explores the relationship between the team and its city, chronicling the Cubs’ evolution from a team of “loveable losers” to champions of the 2016 World Series while experiencing enormous dedication from their fans every step of the way.
In addition, Simon describes how the Cubs’ World Series win transcended sports and became an underdog narrative for the nation. The book pays homage to baseball itself as Simon acknowledges the sport’s incredible power to have granted levity, celebration, and unity to both the city and the country.
BookPage described the book as a “a brisk, sweet romp through Cubs history to the glorious present.” According to Publishers Weekly, Simon’s “heartfelt memoir...gives readers a wonderful look at how a Cubs fan - indeed, any devoted fan of any team - has a feeling of ‘love, not loyalty.’”
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired authors and broadcasters. He has reported from all over the world and many wars and has won every major award in broadcasting. He hosts of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, which is the most-listened to news program on NPR, with over 4 million listeners. Simon has written seven books including the recently published, Just Getting Started, with Tony Bennett; the novels Pretty Birds and Windy City; and the memoir Unforgettable. Mr. Simon also hosts public television specials and does stories for CBS Sunday Morning and has one of the largest personal media followings on Twitter. In 2016, he received the Order of Lincoln from the State of Illinois, the state’s highest honor. Prior to the 2016 World Series, his hobbies included “bleeding for the Chicago Cubs.”
Scott Simon on Twitter: @nprscottsimon
Politics and Prose: Scott Simon, My Cubs: A Love Story:
MLB Now: Scott Simon (video)
Audiofile (review of audio book)
Just Getting Started, co-authored with Tony Bennett (2016)
Pretty Birds: a Novel (2005)
Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan (2000)
In three words, how would you describe watching the Cubs win the 2016 World Series?
Amazing. Heartening. Overdue.
Or to put that into a three-word sentence: Long time coming.
Aside from the obvious inspiration of the World Series win, why did you write this book— a book about being a fan, versus a history of the club or an analysis of their win?
Every fan has a personal relationship with a club they love. This is especially true for Cubs fans (as it is for Red Sox fans, and was for Brooklyn Dodgers fans). Wrigley Field is part of the neighborhood on the north side of Chicago in the way few other ballparks are a part of every day life. School kids grow up hearing cheers (and groans, in my day) from Wrigley when school windows are open in the spring and fall. My friends and I would pull into the Addison Street El platform on the ride home from school, and look to see if the L or W flag flew from the stadium. We mark our lives with Cubs milestones. We remember where we were when Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run, when Kerry Wood struck out 20—and when Steven Bartman tried to catch a pop foul that led to the Cubs failing to get to the World Series.
I also have some personal links to Cubs history. My godfather, Uncle Jack Brickhouse, was the team’s play-by-play announcer for many years. “Hey-hey!” was his famous home run call. And my Auntie Marian was married to Charlie Grimm, the former Cubs 3rd baseman and manager. Uncle Charlie’s portrait is at the center of the famous Norman Rockwell painting, The Dugout.
You do, however, tell some wonderful, often-overlooked stories from Cubs' history. Did you have a favorite piece to research or retell?
It’s wonderful that the best eyewitness I could find to Babe Ruth’s called shot to center field in the 1932 World Series was John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court justice, who was a little boy in the stands.
But the story of Ken Hubbs is the most heart piercing, and often overlooked. Ken was a Golden Glove 2nd baseman, Rookie of the Year, and a gracious star who signed autographs for all and visited kids in hospitals. He was a true California golden boy at the center of the Cubs infield, alongside Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, and lynchpin of their hopes for the future. Then he died in a plane crash in 1964 at the age of twenty-two.
The death of Ken Hubbs was the loss of a fine and admirable young man. It also reinforced the belief, as no mere improbable gaffe or billy goat hex ever could, that the Cubs were truly cursed. And it drove them to make what’s often considered the most disastrous trade in baseball history.
What's your favorite personal Cubs story?
I was honored to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs-Mariners game last July 31, which turned out to be a milestone in their championship season. They won in the 12th inning on a pinch-hit bunt from a pitcher, Jon Lester, and began a thirteen game winning streak that solidified their hold on first place. I like to think my pitch made a small contribution.
And then there’s the story we call Uncle Charlie’s Ashes. The Cubs will not let anyone’s ashes be scattered at Wrigley Field. The sheer volume would be ankle-deep on the field. But Auntie Marian had an old commitment from the team, and insisted. I was there for a secret ceremony in which Marian got to sprinkle some of Uncle Charlie’s ashes around first base. To this day, when a base runner flops back to first, we say in our family, “He gets a pocketful of Uncle Charlie.” I tell the story for the first time My Cubs because I think Charlie would want people to know as they watch that he’s still part of the game.
We often have a way of remembering and telling underdog stories that reframes the ultimate victory as inevitable. Do you see that happening with the Cubs? Do we risk forgetting just how real the curses felt, how far down our nails were bitten in Game 7?
Of course, now every play in the 2016 season seems to contribute to the Cubs championship. But it truly came down to the very last moment: 7th game, 2 outs, 10th inning. Kris Bryant slipped when he scooped up that last grounder. If he had fallen, Cleveland would have the trying run in scoring position. When he did throw, it was high. Another inch, it would have soared over Anthony Rizzo, rolled toward the dugout, and Cleveland might have tied the game then and there—with the winning run on third. Baseball is a game of inches, down to the last second. You play all season—or for 108 years—and the final difference can still be the size of a bitten fingernail.
There's something special about the fact that the Cubs finally won while we had a Chicagoan in the White House— even if he was a White Sox fan!
Absolutely. President Obama actually has a mixed marriage. Michelle Obama is a Cubs fan, who grew up watching the Cubs after school with her father. And many staffers who had been with President Obama all through his political career were north siders and Cubs fans. It gave him great pleasure to end his presidency by giving them the gift of bringing the Cubs to the White House. It was so nice, by the way, to see Illinois pols act like six-year-old kids around the Cubs. It must take a lot to make Senator Durbin and Mayor Emanuel look star-struck, even at the White House. But they sure were. And the president ad-libbed the nicest reflection on being a sports fan that I’ve ever heard.
It was also fitting, after such a divisive election year, to see the political diversity of the Cubs ownership. Todd Ricketts supported President Trump. Laura Ricketts is a gay rights activist who supported Hillary Clinton. Tom Ricketts, the managing owner, sits somewhere in the middle (and Theo Epstein, the GM, supported Hillary, too). As Tom Ricketts told me, “We love each other and enjoy our differences. Why do people find that odd?”
You say that what you feel for the Cubs is love, not loyalty. What makes that distinction, for you?
Loyalty can be grudging. Love is not. I have never liked that phrase, “long suffering Cubs fans,” for while the club sometimes made me sob with their comic and improbable losses (this is not just a metaphor: my wife once found me crying in the bathroom over a Cub fiasco), I have always felt there was something utterly unique, fun, and delightful about being a Cubs fan. We’ve managed to pack a lot of entertainment and emotion into 108 years of losing, capped by a single glorious victory. You can’t ask for more sustenance than that from a team.
Any predictions for the 2017 season? The future of the Cubs?
I have predicted that the Cubs will win the World Series every year of my life. But when I say that now, I’m less likely to be put into a straitjacket (at least, not for that reason). The Cubs had some of the best young talent in baseball, most of it signed for a few more years. They have the best manager, day in and day out, and the best general manager by far. They have the talent and resources to repeat. As Tom Ricketts asked, “After all those years of losing, don’t Cubs fans deserve to win more than once?”
What do you think will be next for Theo Epstein?
I think he'll be too big for baseball, although if he raises so much as his pinkie finger to say he'd like to be commission someday, I think owners would be delighted. After winning with both the Red Sox and Cubs, there is simply no challenge left that befits Theo Epstein. He could always go to the Yankees, of course. But Theo could only (slightly) diminish his legend if he loses with the Yankees, and not really burnish his rep if he wins, what, a 30th World Series for the Yankees? We know that Theo Epstein is politically astute, aware, and even active. I truly think he really could be president of the United States.
(Courtesy of the publisher)