Harry, Ernie and Ron are celebrating

Published 10:01 am Friday, November 4, 2016

They should have been there.

The Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years, and Harry Caray, longtime voice of the Cubs wasn’t there to see it. Neither was “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks. Nor was Ron Santo.

All three, part of the Cubs’ history and tradition, died before the Cubs developed into a contender for the National League crown and won a deserved World Series Championship.

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Harry died in 1998; Ernie in 2015; and Ron died in 2010.

I’m using first names because that’s how most people who were Cubs fans and Cubs watchers remember them.

Harry joined the Cubs after serving as the play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s and the Chicago White Sox.

Ernie, one of the game’s supreme players, was a lifetime Cub. He spent his career in the “friendly confines of Wrigley Field” refusing to call to be traded or take the free agency route.

Ron covered the “hot corner” at third base for the Cubs. He was later a broadcaster for the Cubs, and he and Ernie were both named to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

With their teammate, shortstop Don Kessinger, they were members of the 1969 Cubs team that led the Eastern Division of the National League for most of the season and then faded toward the end, losing a chance to break the “jinx.”

Kessinger later coached the Ole Miss baseball team for six seasons.

Harry, Ernie, Ron and Don were well-known to baseball fans before the advent of cable and satellite television.

Harry, through the radio broadcasts of the Cardinals, A’s, Sox and Cubs games when radio was the only way to follow baseball on a consistent basis. Ernie, Ron and Don were watched by millions on television when the Cubs appeared on the “Game of the Week,” broadcasts by one of the then-three television networks, again before the advent of cable and satellite.

I was never really a Cubs fan. Being a southerner and growing up in Baton Rouge, which was about four hours away from Houston, I was a fan of the Astros in my younger years, but the Cubs were always a sentimental favorite, especially after I got cable and began watching the Cubs on Chicago’s WGN. In fact, I even became a bit of a fan. I had to admire their fans’ strength in the face of constant adversity and the frustration. And I always enjoyed watching the seventh inning stretch with Harry leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and his jubilate “Cubs Win!” “Cubs Win!”

Wednesday night, the Cubs finally won the big one. The jinx was broken, and the frustrations of all Cubs fans and former players living and dead have been resolved.

Somewhere, in that great Hall of Fame in the sky, Ernie and Ron are smiling, and Don, I’m sure, is smiling in Oxford.

And Harry is yelling “Cubs Win!” “Cubs Win!”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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