What curse? Kids con­fi­dent in Cubs

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Don Babwin

Kaitlin Reap didn’t lis­ten when her dad tried to warn her about the life­time of mis­ery wait­ing for her if she cheered for the Cubs. She re­jected his in­vi­ta­tion to share with him the joys of be­ing a Louis Car­di­nals fan.

Kaitlin Reap didn’t lis­ten when her dad tried to warn her about the life­time of mis­ery wait­ing for her if she cheered for the Chicago Cubs. She re­jected his in­vi­ta­tion to share with him the joys of be­ing a St. Louis Car­di­nals fan. And all his talk about curses sim­ply guar­an­teed him a daugh­ter who wants noth­ing to do with goats.

“I want to be a Cubs fan,” said Kaitlin, a 9-year-old third grader at Saint An­drew School, less than a mile from Wrigley Field. “I think they’re go­ing to win.”

Cubs fans ev­ery­where are hop­ing for a World Series cham­pion for the first time since 1908, and they have a loaded team this time, one the piled up the most wins in the ma­jors this sea­son. But there is also fear — the kind of fear that is handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion in Chicago, the kind that comes from heart­break af­ter heart­break, the kind that is fed by billy goat curses (1945), black cats (1969) and in­fa­mous plays (look­ing at you, Steve Bart­man).

Cubs fans know this feel­ing as well as they know their way to the friendly con­fines. They’ve grown up with it.

Ex­cept, that is, for the fans who haven’t fin­ished grow­ing up.

For Kaitlin and her school­mates, there is op­ti­mism that the Cubs will win it all this year and, if not, they will cer­tainly end the long cham­pi­onship drought by the time they leave Saint An­drew. At nearby Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, the only fear is that the principal won’t let them out of class to watch the pa­rade they know is com­ing.

The way these kids see it, all those older fans are be­ing a lit­tle silly.

“Peo­ple are a lit­tle para­noid (be­cause) it hasn’t hap­pened but it might be a co­in­ci­dence that they haven’t won in a while,” said Max Old­ham, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Saint An­drew.

All that talk about para­noia, not to men­tion re­fer­ring to a 108 years as “a while,” might have some­thing to do with par­ents who have pro­tected their chil­dren from what they know and what they have wit­nessed for them­selves.

“We have not told him about Bart­man,” said Cy Old­ham, who saw what un­folded from the left field bleach­ers af­ter she and her hus­band de­cided to post­pone their hon­ey­moon so they could at­tend the play­offs. “We try not to dwell on that time (and) it is not some­thing we want to sit down and say, so, ‘Let me tell you how bad things used to be.’”

Ad­di­son Casavechia could not help know­ing about those times, not with a first name that her par­ents chose be­cause they liked the way it sounded and be­cause Wrigley Field is on Ad­di­son Street. That might ex­plain why the 11-year-old sixth grader doesn’t think the Cubs will win it all this year.

“I have my bets for next year be­cause we’ll have Kyle Sch­war­ber back,” she said of the player who suf­fered a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury early this sea­son.

Her mother, the as­sis­tant principal at Saint An­drew, doesn’t want to see her daugh­ter suf­fer. But Sarah Casavechia also sees root­ing for the Cubs as part of grow­ing up in Chicago.

“I think be­ing a Cubs fan is like tak­ing a leap of faith ev­ery year, it’s like fall­ing in love,” she said. “You know there’s a chance you’re go­ing to get your heart bro­ken but you do it any­way.”

That’s not to say the kids haven’t taken steps they hope might pre­vent the kind of mis­ery that their par­ents, grand­par­ents and great­grand­par­ents ex­pe­ri­enced in sea­sons past.

Ben­nett Pat­ter­son, a 12-year-old sev­enth grader at Hawthorne, makes sure to watch Cubs games ac­com­pa­nied by one of the white flags with the blue W on it, the kind the Cubs have been fly­ing for years af­ter a win and now wave from houses and car an­ten­nas all over the city.


In this Oct. 6 photo, from left, Sean Leahy, Kaitlin Reap, Ad­di­son Casavechia, Con­nor Burns, blue shirt, Quinn Roberts and Max Old­ham, stu­dents at Hawthorne Ele­men­tary School near Wrigley Field in Chicago, hold a Cubs W sign out­side the school. It was one of 500 W’s that the Cubs gave the school for the kids, who took them home last week.

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