What I Learned About Family And Fandom From A Cubs Win And A 32-Year-Old Bottle Of Bourbon

Managing Editor, Sports + DIME

Martin Rickman

CLEVELAND – In 1984, my grandpa Ray gave my father a bottle of Jim Beam. Since he had a good relationship (that’s putting it mildly) with liquor distributors, this wasn’t an ordinary bottle. It was aged four years in the barrel and was poured into a ceramic bear wearing a full Cubs uniform. You had to take off the head to open the bottle. Ray told my dad he couldn’t open it until the Cubs won the World Series, and then they would drink together.

I was born in 1987. Ray died in October of 2010. The bottle remained unopened.

I’d seen that bottle for years on shelves in the houses we lived in, and I don’t think I ever really knew the story. When the Cubs clinched the National League pennant, sending them to the World Series for the first time in oh so many years, my dad posted a Facebook status with a picture of the bottle. The Cubs were playing the Indians, and no matter who won I’d be toasting to something.

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