HAWL IN: Mets series another chance for Cubs to get rid of the past
CHICAGO – This is your father’s time for revenge.
I know it is for mine.
A Cubs and Mets National League Championship Series is also a chance for this story to get pushed to the past. Call it the next round of therapy for suffering fans of North Side baseball.
When I was a kid growing up and watching Cubs baseball, my dad, Chuck Hawley, would always have a story about this infamous season in team history. If you were a Cubs fan who grew up in a family of rooters from a generation ago, you probably have heard the same.
This was the summer of 1969 when a then 24-year pennant drought was on the verge of being ended by a team which had built talent over the past decade. With Banks, Beckert, Hundley, Kissinger, Santo, Williams and a host of other veterans, the Cubs finally appeared ready to smash through what was then two-decades of playoff despair.
For a few months, it seemed the Cubs’ year.
With the “Bleacher Bums” in full force, the Cubs stormed out of the gates by winning 11 of their first 12 games. Ken Holtzman threw a no-hitter. Ron Santo clicked his heels. Jack Brickhouse blared out a dozens of “Hey Hey!” screams as the Cubs kept winning games in thrilling fashion.
I heard the stories from my father and then later saw the highlights on old videos of the jubilant team and their fans. I even learned some of the lyrics to “Hey Hey Holy Mackerel“, the “Go Cubs Go” rally song of that era.
Following a 3-0 shutout win by Fergie Jenkins over the Giants on Aug. 16, the Cubs had a nine-game lead in the new National League East division.
As with many stories of the Cubs past, you know what comes next.
A young Mets team caught fire. The Cubs cooled off. A black cat pranced around Santo in the on deck circle at Shea Stadium. By Sept. 10, the Cubs lost the lead division lead to New York. Eight days later they trailed the Mets by five games.
On Oct. 2 the Cubs beat the Mets in front of just 9,981 fans at Wrigley Field as their season came to an end. They won the game, but lost the war to New York, who ended up eight games ahead of the Cubs for the NL East crown.
In a span of two months, the Cubs lost 17 games of ground in the standings and Exhibit A of the team’s pain and suffering was established for a generation of fans to pass down to their children.