My Chicago Cubs t-shirt is one of my favorite shirts I own. It’s not my favorite because it’s particularly flattering or anything. It’s my favorite shirt because I always seem to have meaningful conversations with strangers when I wear it.
For example, during the 2018 postseason, I was wearing my Cubs t-shirt at the grocery store while the Cubs were playing the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card game. I was going through the aisles when one of the grocery store employees literally ran to catch up to me.
“Are you a Cubs fan?!” He almost shouted.
“Yes! I love them!” I smiled back.
He smiled from ear to ear, “I’m a White Sox fan, but my dad was a die-hard Cubbies fan,” he explained, “We love razzing each other when they play!”
We stood in the grocery store aisle for another 10 minutes as we talked about how the Cubbies have influenced our families. He explained that when he was little they moved to the “other side” of Chicago and could easily go see the White Sox play, and he grew to love that team over the years. I talked about how I finally found a team full of characters that I loved in the Cubbies, and how it brought my husband and I together during a very difficult year for us.
We parted, filled with a moment that brought two strangers together for no other reason than to share in the love of The Game.
I wore that same shirt to the gym one morning not too long ago. I had finished my workout and was sitting on a couch next to the fireplace at our gym. I woman came and sat across from me. We smiled at each other, but I didn’t expect her to talk to me.
“Is that a Chicago Cubs shirt?” She asked.
“It is!” I eagerly replied.
“My father loved the Cubs. He died in 2015.”
Now, you and I both know what she meant by ending her sentence there. The Chicago Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908, and in the year 2016, they took baseball by storm, winning for the first time in 108 years. Our eyes locked and we both cried.
“I wish he was here to see it. It would have brought him so much joy!” She told me.
“He was there!” I gushed, taking her hand, “He saw it all!”
“I want to go to Chicago,” she said, “and write his name on the wall of Wrigley Field, so everyone will know how much he loved those Cubs.”
We had a moment together that changed how I understood baseball. It is a game that brings together generations of memories, love, and connection.
I wear that Cubs shirt as often as I can because I never know when I will have a moment where a stranger and I will connect on the most beautiful, intimate level. That is the power of baseball. It is more than teams and pastime. It is humanity in its most beautiful form.