Wrigley Field was the plan for 2001 but history got in the way. When 9/11 occurred and the MLB schedule was reconfigured, we switched our games to Schaumburg’s minor league park. Among the checks turned over to Cubs Care was one from Founding No Bats legend George Simmons, who died on American flight #77 when it was skyjacked into the Pentagon.
Former Oriole reliever Tim Stoddard showed up to help us out and demonstrated what Major League beer-drinking looks like.
ByrneDogg returned to action following a long recovery from a wicked, near fatal car wreck and led off with a line drive that rookie Mark Costigan slides through the mud on his stomach to catch. ByrneDogg took it well. "I was always proud of my hand-eye coordination, so getting a hit in my first AB back would have been special. Instead, an overanxious stupid rookie took it away with a very good catch."
"A veteran would have never dove on the first play of the weekend." Costigan was one of many new members to the club, the Class of 2001 from Chicago, which has proven itself the greatest rookie crop since 1991 when the club was founded.
When we refused to peel off ten grand in charity money for an appearance fee for a "name player" to come accept our donated charity haul—which was significant—the Cubs sent Chad Meyers and Augie Ojeda. The restaurant we celebrated in allowed cigars the first night, but the air was thicker than diesel bus exhaust and they changed the rule for the second.
A poignant moment came when Navy vets Joe "Iron" Maiden and Dick Kievit stood up and sang God Bless America at the restaurant.
Ted Darby, who had to really scramble to rearrange logistics post-9/11 remembers:
"We are Americans, and we are going to carry on. Plus we felt the club as a whole needed this. We had 60 guys post, even though the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. We showed up and played our unusual brand of baseball and shared good times with each other."
"On Friday rookie night, we held our dinner in a private room at a restaurant that was part of a local airport. It was the only place we could find that could accommodate us on short notice that fit within our budget."
"Our private room was adjacent to their main dining room, which featured air traffic control broadcasts between the airport and pilots. The place was packed. As we went thru the process of introducing the new rookies, someone asked a couple of military vets – Joe Maiden and Dick Kievit, what was their school songs and to sing them. Joe and Dick looked at one another, whispered to each other and then stood at attention and started singing God Bless America. After the first couple notes, everyone in our room stood up and joined in as loud as we could."
"The folks in the packed main area of the restaurant turned to see what was happening and then they all stood and started to sing as well. It was a glorious moment that sent chills through me and many others. Joe and Dick delivered the right thing at the right time. It certainly impressed the two Cubs players who joined us that night. For me, that was a very special moment in the history of our club."
Founding member George Simmons died an American patriot, and there is no way we will ever forget it.
Rookie of the Year