The real shame is that nobody speaks for the children. The Cubs' extraordinary constituency has been built on kids who could go off to a ball game and be home in time for dinner, kids who grew up to raise Cub fans of their own. Because of Chicago's WGN superstation—ironically, another target of the commissioner—the Cubs have a new following of youngsters all across the country. A July 18, 1983 SCORECARD item told of 3-year-old Scotty Dunn of Portland, Ore., who had become so captivated by the Cubs and Harry Caray that he started singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game in church when the organist played a hymn.
The lasting image of baseball is a game played by kids in sunshine on green grass. Wrigley Field is baseball's last shrine. The Cubs have something special, but they'll probably throw it away for money. There's nothing that special about money.
22-SKIDDOO: FLIGHTY OVER FLUTIE
The passion for Doug Flutie, the Boston College quarterback who took his team to the Cotton Bowl this week, seems to know no bounds. The Boston College Bookstore, a small campus emporium catering mostly to BC's 10,000 students, has been doing a land-office business since Flutie threw The Pass to beat Miami on Nov. 23. The store has sold more than $425,000 worth of Flutie and Cotton Bowl items, including hundreds of "six-second" shirts depicting a No. 22 throwing to a No. 20 in the end zone ($7.95). Peter Palmese, a sales representative for Champion Products, says, "Anything with No. 22 on it sells immediately. I've been in the bookstore business for 15 years, and no one has ever, at any time, been as big as Doug Flutie is now."
So a still unidentified young man found out on the Thursday before Christmas, after he slipped into the BC locker room and slipped out with a helmet, which happened to have No. 22 on it. Flutie, who is more than a little superstitious, was more than a little upset by the theft of the helmet he had worn in every game for four years, and the people in the Boston area echoed his outrage. Two days later, the thief dropped the helmet off at the offices of The Boston Herald, saying, "I didn't know it was his. There was no name on it. I figured I'd snag one, maybe make it into a lamp or something." Sure.
Flutie fanatics also got some measure of satisfaction last Thursday when David Delprete delivered a Boston cream pie to Chicago Tribune sports columnist Bernie Lincicome. In November, Lincicome had written that Flutie was "a dwarf playing football for a dwarf college" and that his popularity stemmed from his being "your basic runt of the litter." These observations incensed the Boston media, and Lincicome didn't help matters when, on a WROR radio show, he insulted Boston cream pie by saying, "You people can't make up your mind whether you want a pie or a cake."
When WROR held an auction to benefit the station's Children's Christmas Fund, one of the prizes was a trip to Chicago to throw a Boston cream pie in Lincicome's face. Delprete bid $1,050 for the honor—the next-most-expensive prize was a $650 Cabbage Patch doll. Flutie's champion flew to Chicago, took a limousine to the Tribune's offices and, wearing a No. 22 shirt, did his deed. Afterward Lincicome said, "I felt like Bozo the Columnist, but I did wear a tie to try to lend some dignity. I still don't know if it was a pie or a cake."