We Vincents know how to celebrate Memorial Day properly. It’s not an All-American holiday without baseball. So Friday night we headed to Dodger stadium to watch the Dodgers play the Chicago Cubs, with dugout seats provided courtesy of one of my favorite clients.
She’s a Cub fan alright!
Jordan was very excited about going to a baseball game. She was excited about getting cotton candy. But mostly, she was excited to root for the Cubs. A little background is necessary. I’m from Illinois originally. My hometown is about equal distance between Chicago and St. Louis. There’s a civil war in my family between team allegiances. You’re either a Cubs fan or a Cardinals fan. I’ve always been the former, and I often watch a Cubs game on tv, sometimes with Jordan sitting on my lap. I think she’s become a fan by osmosis. Friday was a fascinating display of brave loyalty.
When it was time to leave for the game, I debated whether or not to wear one of my many Cubs hats or wear a Dodger hat. Truth be told, my real team loyalty lies with the Angels. I took in my first baseball game at the age of six at Angel Stadium, shortly after my family moved to Southern California. My mother became a die-hard fan and I spent many a weekend rooting for Nolan Ryan, or Doug DeCinces, or Mike Witt. I like the Dodgers, but I don’t have any emotional attachment to the team. The trouble is that I don’t care for baseball crowds. I’ve been to games with my kids where fans were unruly with the visiting team fans and it just makes for an unpleasant experience. So I opted to wear my Dodger hat, blend in and enjoy the game with the family.
That plan was foiled when I met Jordan in the living room. She was decked in Cub gear from head to toe. She borrowed a Cubs insignia baseball shirt from her brother. It was bold and proud. She topped that off with a blushing pink Cubs ladies ball cap. She took one look at my hat and gave me a grimace.
“How come you’re not wearing Cubs?”
It was not a gentle inquiry. I tried to explain that I “just wanted to blend in, especially because we were guests of the Dodgers.” She glowered at me. I went back and grabbed a Cubs hat and that was that.
As we entered Dodger stadium Jordan kept shouting “Go, Cubs!” as loud as she could. People turned and looked down at the little girl with the big chant and the brazen display of visiting team spirit. Fortunately for us, there are a lot of Cubs fans in LA. They cheered her on. We kept telling her to keep her voice down. Dodger fans turned to boo her, but then saw that it was a little girl and didn’t know what to do.
Our seats were amazing–probably the best seats I’ve ever had at any baseball game. Four rows from the field in the Dugout Club. Larry King sat across the aisle from us with his family. We were on the home dugout side surrounded by die-hard Dodger fans. It didn’t matter. Jordan cheered every Dodger strikeout. She rooted every time a Cubby reached. People turned around and glared at us annoyed as the Cubs took a nice three-run lead. Jordan was unabated as she nibbled on cotton candy and peanuts.
Early on she noticed that Dodger players tossed a ball into the stands after they retired the side. Larry King would stand up and call out to a player and ask for the ball. It was usually Nomar (a former Cub, I might add). Larry would catch the ball and then toss it to a nearby kid. When Jordan saw this, she was determined to catch a ball. But she was decked in Cub gear! We told her it would be a fat chance that a Dodger would throw a Cub fan a ball. So, my crafty little girl zipped up her hoody and took off her ball cap. At the end of the sixth, she ran down to the dugout rail. We thought she had no chance. We couldn’t hear what she was saying, but she caught the attention of the third base coach … who had the ball. The next thing we knew he was tossing it to Jordan. And she caught it. She bounced back to her seat with pride, unzipped her hoody to let the Cubs logo breathe again and put her cap back on her head.
That’s my daughter. It’s pretty hard to deter her when she puts her mind to anything. That spirit was alive and well yesterday as she began her new chemo protocol. She cooperated beautifully and called me when it was done to tell me she “did excellent!” I asked her last night, when I tucked her in, if she was feeling tired or sick.
“No. I feel just fine, Dad.”
Then she changed the subject.
“Wasn’t it cool when I caught that ball?”
I told her it was. Then I asked her:
“What did you say to get that man to throw you the ball?”
“I just told him that he should throw it to me if he wanted it to go to someone strong. I told him I was kicking cancer’s butt.”
I couldn’t help but laugh and think about what that man must have thought, with this blond-haired youngster shouting out about being strong and then revealing her biggest weakness. Whatever he thought, I’m grateful to him and proud of her.