On a sunny September 9th, Wrigley Field spread before us. It was my first visit. I now have a certificate that says so. The ballpark is spectacular, from the rooftop bleachers to our seats in the shade and I now have a greater appreciation for “Field of Dreams.”
As we waited for the opening pitch, I envisioned, one former player at catcher. Our very own, El Tappe, from Quincy, IL. Google El to read about his impressive career. Knowing the man, I was somewhat awestruck by how much he actually had done for this club. I impressed our friends with his trading card, which I found online, during the game.
His MLB debut was 1954; his last appearance was in1962. Wikipedia writes that, “He was best known for being instrumental in implementing the Philip K. Wrigley College of Coaches, to give the team better leadership and stability, by utilizing coaching talent from within the organization. Tappe was one of the rotating coaches himself for 95 games. He returned to his backup catcher role for his last year as a player.”
To me, El was simply Tammy’s dad and Donna’s husband. He was one of the nicest, funniest gentlemen I’ve met and he was never crabby when we girls got bratty. It’s funny how someone of such stature can remain humble and patient. To growing up girls, he’s basically the nice dad of your best friend.
Here’s the odd part. Every fall, Tammy and I went to Madison school. In second grade, I ratted her ponytail, while sitting behind her in Mrs. Long’s class. However, every year, during K-6th grades, Tammy disappeared after Christmas Break. I’d receive her new school picture from Mesa, AZ. I guess I wasn’t curious enough to ask where she went each year, because she’d always return for the summer. The Tappe family relocated annually for the Cubs’ Spring Training, El was part of the coaching staff and scout. In hindsight, Tammy says she feels so fortunate to have had this split opportunity. Donna continued to visit her Cub “family” after El passed away.
In high school, we girls were given the opportunity to socialize (i.e. drink beer) with the Cubs AAA players, who played summer ball in Quincy. The fun continued, when at Arizona State, a few of my friends and I went to the Allman Brothers Band at the Mesa ballpark with the AAA’s. I wonder if any of them made the A team…
I pull for the Cubbies harder now that I have experienced the Wrigley Field awe. I understand the pilgrimage people make game after game and particularly when Cubs Vs. Cards.
Is this a great country or what? If there’s a major league in heaven, I’ll bet El is either still scouting, coaching or back at catcher. Thanks El, for giving my ball park more meaning, even if you guys lost that day 15-1. Ouch. Okay, now, PLAY BALL!