Wittenmyer: A ’74 Vega, the ’84 Cubs and the subsequent highway to journey

Estimated read time 5 min read

The 19-year-old school pupil dropped out of faculty simply earlier than the beginning of his sophomore class, loaded his suitcase, books, and case of oil right into a 1974 Vega hatchback and drove out of Spokane, Washington, on a heat September day. . , headed for Chicago.

He known as dwelling from an Idaho payphone and instructed folks about his imaginative and prescient of working with the nice Mike Royko for the Chicago Tribune in a baseball city with two groups.

A tricky, quick dialog included the daddy saying, “You could discover that some folks aren’t as form as you are used to.”

“I do not know the way lengthy I will keep there, however I left my coat on the mattress.”


Just a few days later, in nonetheless sunny Chicago, Vega exited the freeway simply after the Wrigley Discipline signal, drove just a few blocks down Addison for gasoline and a map, and ended up within the car parking zone of Lincoln’s Diplomat Motel. Arrived at .

That child was so garbage that the subsequent day he walked into the Tribune constructing on the lookout for a job along with his handwritten resume and located that just about each story he had written within the final yr was actually ripped out of the newspaper and crammed right into a file folder. It was

In spite of everything, Trib and its safety did not work like Spokesman-Evaluate.

“Would you want to satisfy the sports activities editor?”

“Do you have got a promise?”


“Reservations are required.”


After getting off the elevator, I known as the payphone within the foyer on the second flooring to make an appointment, solely to seek out out that Jean Quinn was on trip.

The plain subsequent cease was Wrigley Discipline, the place I purchased an additional ticket for $5 from somebody making an attempt to do away with my field seat for a make-up sport with Andre Dawson and the Expos. Someday in 1984.

For a child who thought Kingdom was an exemplar of big-league ballpark virtues, his first glimpse of the sphere was spectacular. Sights, sounds, smells, sensory overload. Dawson, a pile of males standing in circles on deck, just a few rows, however seemed to be three toes aside.

By the tip of the week, a sequence of small newspapers wished to rent the child as a sports activities stringer, and McDonald’s had an indication within the window asking for assist. An officer was too costly to purchase, winter was approaching, the coat was nonetheless in Spokane, and Quinn was nonetheless on trip.

Vega took simply over every week to get again to the northwest.

Persistence, imaginative and prescient, and focus are clearly actual, whether or not or not issues like omens, harbingers, future, and future are actual.

One school diploma, three baseball beats, and 23 years later, Lube is again at Wrigley Discipline.

Since then, almost each Cubs, Wrigley and Dewar 16 seasons have adopted. Throughout that point there was a reunion with the primary supervisor (Lou Piniella) whom I lined on the beat. Bench he is a coach (Joe Maddon), a supervisor (Mike Quade) who went fishing with him for a Solar-Occasions again cowl article, and most lately, a supervisor who traded well-meaning double birds many instances.

It additionally included arguably probably the most well-known championships within the historical past of American group sports activities, the primary two championships. 2 — with many nice guys (and a few Dutch) who’ve rebuilt the historical past of elite-earning MLB groups for the reason that daybreak of free company, moved on their approach to NBC Sports activities Chicago, and lined through the years Who has grow to be a terrific pal and colleague to numerous nice folks.

It seems my father was incorrect about these form folks.

(Or, should you’re speaking about Musk’s ass Twitter, he was forward of his time).

It was a wild experience.

And with this rube deal on observe with NBC, the one certainty is that the experience is not over but.

It is tough to know for positive the place the highway will flip subsequent. If that highway turns again from Chicago, it is even more durable to think about one other place that seems like dwelling.

However regardless of how powerful the sport is for individuals who play the longest, this aspect of the enterprise, it is sport time on a summer season’s day when some older child’s coronary heart skips a beat. It is nothing in comparison with doing it on the ballpark.

Name it future or focus.

Name it future, however do not name it a vacation spot.

38 years later, the journey continues. And all of the remaining miles earlier than I put somebody to sleep.

Vega disappeared way back, however a few of us are nonetheless burning oil.

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