Friday, February 15, 2008

Unsung Heroes of Sport: 1

We all know about those whose life and work make the front page in the world of sport. The Athletes, sports writers, agents, et. al. who appear on the front pages of our news papers. But what about those people who leave a lasting impression on the game or its fan's without the attention and fame. So We here at The Beardown, are going to be celebrating some of these people The first person I will be celebrating in this series is Singer/Songwriter Steve Goodman.

"Baseball season's on the way
Well you better get ready for a brand new day" (Steve Goodman, Go Cubs Go, 1984)

A Chicago native (a.k.a The Chicago Shorty) wrote songs for the likes of Steve Martin, Jimmy Buffet, and Arlo Guthrie, among others, but enjoyed being out of the spotlight. Two things he loved more than Guitar and music were humor and sports. Luckily for him the Chicago Cubs fit both of those categories. Every year around Februrary I dig out an old CD and listen to two of his songs that put a smile on my face. "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" and "Go Cubs Go". The first a very tongue in cheek representation of every Cubs fan and their life of struggles, being a Cubs fan. It was written in 1983 and the Chorus goes as such:

"Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their
ivy-covered burial ground
When I was a boy they were my pride and joy
But now they only bring fatigue
To the home of the brave
The land of
the free
And the doormat of the National League"

Some other highlights include:

"the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant
Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan"

"Year after year after year (A small pause followed by)
after year, after
year, after year, after year, after year"

Cubs notables featured in the song are the famous Ernie Banks phrase "Let's play two" a day time funeral "No lights!" as well as have "Keith Moreland Drop a routine fly" and the famed Wrigley dimensions "Let my ashes blow in a beautiful snow, from the prevailing 30 mile an hour southwest wind. When my last remains go flying over the left-field wall will bid the bleacher bums adieu. And I will come to my final resting place, out on Waveland Avenue" and in a last poke at the Cubs futility over the years he says "but you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs, So its me that feels sorry for you!"

I love this song not only as a Cubs fan but as a baseball fan, and a fan in general. I am however lucky enough to be a Cubs fan so I probably like it more than you, but it's the perfect example of a fan in his final moments. The song was first performed in March of 1983 on WGN radio which sadly was only 18 months before he passed due to Leukemia. Good old Steve didn't get his funeral he wanted so badly in the song but he got something even better in my opinion. The man who was sarcastic as they come (Called himself Cool Hand Leuke after being diagnosed) and who had fanatical devotion to his boyhood team, lives on as a honorary member of the Cubs and their history.

Shortly before his death he relased the song "Go Cubs Go". A very simple song you have heard if you've watched a Cubs game in the past. A uplifting, fun, summertime, Cubs chant. Repetitive as hell but it's constantly singing, "Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go, Hey Chicago whaddya say the Cubs are gonna win today." The song was used on WGN as the Cubs pushed towards the playoffs. Sadly Goodman was unable to witness the remainder of the Cubs 1984 push as he passed away in September. The Cubs would go on to win the NL East and head to the playoffs, but lost the NLCS to the Padres 3-2 after a 2-0 start.)

Goodman was the quintessential fan and was able to combine his passions for both music and sports into some classic songs that have stood the test of time thusfar. In 2007 the Cubs and WGN dug up Go Cubs Go and began playing it during their post-season run after wins. Goodman is definitely one of the Unsung Heroes of Sport, one who was able to polarize and entire city one summer as they all chanted Go Cubs Go.