A Day to Remember

By Lloyd Graff

Three generations of Graffs at a Cubs game. 2015

The game was over, the Chicago Cubs had completed a four game sweep of the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field in Chicago and I was there to witness it with my three granddaughters.

We were walking out and everybody in our group was in the bathroom but me. I paused and shed a few tears while I mumbled a short prayer of thanks, that I was able to share this moment with my family.

My daughter, Sarah, is a Rabbi in California. She and her husband Scott and kids usually come to Chicago once a year. This year she was determined that her children would get the three generation Wrigley Field experience. She studied the schedule and picked out the only day game that would work and bought the tickets online. This was a family, a spiritual and a practical decision on her part, because every year in her most important sermon, the one people literally wait to hear for 12 months, she makes a reference to the Chicago Cubs. It’s part of her signature. She’s been doing it for 13 years, on the most important holiday of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.

My children understand my relationship with the Cubs is a visceral one. They may not feel it with the fervor of their father, but they experienced it at least vicariously enough to sing baseball songs to me when I was in the hospital waiting for heart surgery seven years ago.

My wife Risa is not a baseball fan. She is indifferent to the Cubs, but through our 45 years of marriage she has respected my commitment to the team. She wanted to be at the Wrigley Field game with Sarah and Scott and the kids. (One of the great things about Sarah’s marriage to Scott is that he is from Chicago too and a lifelong Cubs fan, so the kids are purebreds).

The seven of us packed into a rented Ford van and headed to the ballpark. The girls had never been to a Major League park, but the older ones, 10 and 7, understood the game and Orli, the 5-year-old, had some sense of the event from TV experience and going to a minor league game in San Jose.

It was a perfect day for baseball and we settled into our seats, 20 rows above third base. The game was a pitchers’ duel with the Cubs taking a 2-0 lead early and clinging to it until the 9th inning. Joe Maddon, the Cubs manager, brought his closer, Hector Rondon, into the game. Rondon immediately got into trouble, loading the bases with nobody out. It was the kind of game a fan of the Cubbies knew in his heart of hearts would end badly.

But these are the new Cubs of 2015 and there is magic with this team. Rondon proceeded to strike out the side with no runs scoring and amazingly the Cubs beat the World Champion Giants to sweep the four game series.

Everybody was standing during the crazy 9th inning and continued to sing and sing again, Go Cubs Go, the theme song when they win. It was thrilling and chilling. The girls were enthralled by the sheer energy of the moment amidst 40,000 fans who stayed way past the end. Even Risa got into it and kept saying to us all how much she enjoyed the game.

Sure, it was only a game, an orchestrated moneymaking event, if you want to be cynical, but for the seven of us who were lucky enough to be present at Wrigley that Sunday it was a beautiful moment that would tie the generations together.

I had gone to Cub games in my youth with my Mom who had gone to games with her father. Through the years it became one of our favorite ways to communicate, as we discussed what was happening with the team.

Recently my son-in-law Scott called me at 11pm to rejoice in a Kyle Schwarber game winning homer. One of these days I hope one of my granddaughters will make that call. When the Cubs-Giants game ended and the music stopped, I was grateful to pause and rejoice in the moment. We never get enough special moments like that when three generations weave together in such exquisite joy.

Question: What activity ties the generations of your family together?

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13 thoughts on “A Day to Remember

  1. Mark Rollinson

    Thanks for sharing Lloyd, that’s what it is all about.

    My family gets together at all holidays and a HUGE Summer outing that was started 80 years ago. We regularly have 4 generations present.

    Family is everything.

    Thanks again


  2. Jim P.

    Baseball is as American as it gets! Listening to Buccos’ games on a big old tube AM radio that whinned and fadded in out in the 60’s with my Mother and my Grandad. As it stands now my son and I are looking forward to watching the Pirates beat the Cubs in a one game playoff this fall. Sorry Lloyd- it is inevitable.

  3. Art Santana

    Great article Lloyd; is a great day for you and me too because they Giants were swept.
    Joking aside; nothing beats family. I just came back from a wedding extravaganza that my sister put up for his son’s nuptials in Mexico. One of my nephews brought his 3 week old grandson and I brought it to everyone’s attention that when my old sweet mother was holding that girl, it was the first 5 generation sight. Enjoy it while you can. Family is #1, no matter what.

  4. Misterchipster

    In a family owned business the binding tie is work. Dad is 10 weeks from his 93rd birthday and still checks in at work everyday. Him and his brother started back in 1947. Both of the origianal founder’s oldest sons currently own the business, we are still mostly family, his nephew and one of his grandsons are key veteran employees. The technology may evade him but he still walks away with wonder and a smile after a few minutes watching that new “electronic stuff” produce parts he could only dream about back when the business was started.

  5. Jack

    Great story, Lloyd!! Cherish those memories. Unfortunately for me, my dad passed away suddenly when I was twelve but I have vivid memories of going to Cleveland Indians games with him way back in the early 60’s. It’s great seeing families enjoying such events together. Yes, keep those traditions going!!

  6. David

    Grew up a Packers fan in Green Bay in the sixties. We used to be shocked if they lost a game, not to speak of not winning a championship. My parents had season tickets (and still do). My mother almost fainted when they beat Dallas in the last minutes of the “Ice Bowl”. My parents can’t make games anymore but the extended family almost rioted a couple of years ago when they thought of giving them up.
    I moved East a long time ago and found baseball. The dreaded Yankees yet. My son was seven (the same age I was when the Packers started winning) when they regained their championship form in ’96. He expected nothing less than a World Series ring every year. I watched him cry when they lost to Arizona in 2001, mostly because he never imagined it could happen.
    My son and I take a “baseball” trip every summer to visit other teams home stadiums. Wrigley is next on our list. We don’t go to follow the Yankees, just to see “the game” in another place. Make it to a half dozen home games every year and wear out the TV watching the rest. His mother can’t wait for baseball season to end. Sometimes we turn off the set (but turn on the radio) to give her a break.
    I thought I was a sports nut but after 60 years I realized that what really matters isn’t the sport but the connection to family and friends who share the passion and even those who don’t. Thanks for reminding me of this Lloyd.

  7. Kelly

    Dinner as often as we can. Big group things are hard to get a real conversation going and find out what makes everyone tick.

  8. Peter Frow

    What a signal moment!
    A fitting reward for your faithfulness to both teams Lloyd:
    That is the Cubs but also, and most of all, to the team comprised by your family, for clearly you are Patriarch, Coach and Builder-of-Team-Spirit-in-Chief.
    Is there any chance of receiving one (or more) of your daughter’s sermons. I am intrigued by the link between the Cubs and the Day of Atonement.

  9. Donald Green

    At the moment we’ve only got two generations that we can get together for a Red Sox game (my wife & her parents are from Russia, and have no understanding of the game – except that it was invented in Russia ;-). My brothers and sister are all Red Sox fans (deluded as they may be – I’m a Yankees fan), but can’t get to games together easily. My 10 yr. old daughter and I have starting going together, however. We went to Sunday’s game against the Royals. We also went to last year’s Father’s Day game where we got to run the bases together, and we went to the last game of the season which was a salute to Derek Jeter (that was more for me). This is a great thing to do together


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