In February of 1969, my family moved from the Chicago area, where I had spent my formative years, to New Jersey. It was a traumatic experience for me. I had left behind my friends and the familiar surroundings of what I considered my home town, and wound up in a strange place with no friends…in the middle of high school!
I overcompensated for my feelings of displacement and loneliness by becoming obsessed with my hometown baseball team, the Chicago Cubs. Whenever possible I listened to Cubs games on WGN, which I could pick up on my transistor radio at night. I also subscribed to the Chicago Sun-Times, which was delivered by regular mail, and thus arrived as much as a week after the fact. I started clipping every article about the Cubs from that newspaper and others and began a scrapbook about the 1969 baseball season. Little did I know that I was chronicling (and experiencing) once of the most notorious seasons in the history of baseball.
In 2012, when Ron Santo was inducted in the Hall of Fame, I was lucky enough to be invited by his son Jeff to be part of the festivities. Jeff and I had become friends because I had worked with him on his film “This Old Cub.” When I was there, I offered my scrapbook to the Hall, but they declined the offer.
However, at a reception for the Cubs players and management, I had the honor of showing my scrapbook to the members of the 1969 Cubs who were there. I stood watching as Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and others, flipped through my book and reminisced about moments in the 1969 season that they had forgotten about. It was a truly out-of-body experience.
The Hall of Fame may not have wanted my scrapbook, but before it completely disintegrated, I decided to digitize and post it on this site. Now that the Cubs have won the World Series, reliving the 1969 season is not nearly as painful as it once was. Looking back at this literally day-by-day account of the way the season unfolded is a time capsule– a glimpse at how baseball and sports journalism have changed in the intervening years. I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.