Every time we attend a sporting event, we enter the stadium or arena not knowing if we may witness history that day.
I have been privileged to attend many events that made history and are easily remembered. I was in Cleveland in 2016 when the Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years and did it in dramatic fashion. I was there when the Blackhawks won Stanley Cup titles in 2013 and 2015, the second of which came at the United Center and was the first championship won in Chicago in 20 years. But, those were championship contests that needed no build-up and they were games that had the fans in attendance knowing they might see history that night.
But what about those regular season games featuring a Chicago team that was lousy? The teams that the Chicago Cubs trotted out in the late 1970's were at best mediocre and in some seasons, downright awful.
However, I attended hundreds of those because I love sports — especially baseball — and the Cubs were my team of choice. My brother picked the White Sox as a child, so the rivalry for us was awesome. We went to games on both the North and South side of our city regularly.
So when I decided to go see the Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies on May 17, 1979, I was excited to watch the game and to see the great Mike Schmidt play. Little did I know I was walking into one of the wildest games in baseball history.
When the Phillies jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning I was beyond disappointed. So I decided to enjoy the rest of what looked to be a blowout by having a hot dog eating contest with a few friends that had accompanied me to Wrigley Field on that Thursday afternoon.
As I wolfed down two hot dogs while the Cubs came to bat in the first inning, I laughed at how bad the game looked like it would turn out. When the Cubs scored six runs in their half of the inning, I realized something bizarre was taking place.
But the Phillies with their loaded lineup quickly responded and while we kept eating hot dogs, they kept scoring, eventually expanding their lead to 17-6 after 4 innings of play. After 4 1/2 innings it was 21-9.
We discussed whether to leave over and over as the Phillies kept piling on the runs. But, what were we running home for? To do homework? No shot.
So we stayed and we ate more hot dogs and we watched a scene unfold before our eyes that baseball may never see again. The Cubs suddenly found their stride and they scored 13 runs to tie the game up at 22 after 8 innings of play. Of course, the Phillies won the game 23-22 on a Mike Schmidt home run off of Cubs Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter in the 10th inning, sending us home stuffed with hot dogs and saddled with another Cubs loss.
But, that day cemented my love for attending sporting events in my mind because you never know what could happen whenever you walk into a game. It still remains one of the best sporting events I have ever attended.