The Heckler: How did you become a Cubs fan?
Lin Brehmer: I was born in Queens and I was a Yankees fan. My best friend had moved to Queens from Oak Park, so when we’d play stickball, we’d take turns being the Cubs and Yankees. We even had the Cleo James fan club. With guys like Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks, the Cubs were one of the coolest teams in the 1960s. No matter where you lived, you knew the Cubs.
In 1984, I was promised tickets to see the Cubs in the World Series if I came to work at WXRT. My first night out on Rush Street was the night that the Cubs clinched the pennant. My first apartment was on Wayne between Grace and Waveland. Living in Wrigleyville messed me up bad because that was way too close to Wrigley Field. I averaged about 50 games a year sitting in the right center bleachers with Marty Lennartz, Wendy Rice, Johnny Mars, and other assorted people without real jobs.
TH: Sox fans don’t read this paper. What do you want to say about the Sox?
LB: I go to Sox games all the time. I have room in my heart for two hometown baseball teams, but I’m much more of a National League fan. Despise the DH. And when the Cubs play the Sox, I can’t listen to Hawk Harrelson say “He gone.” Sometimes, I think if it weren’t for Cubs fans, Sox Park would be empty. It amazes me that so-called Sox fans haven’t supported their team better. Does it bother anyone else that the only Sox fans that needed a scalper earlier this year were the dogs who found out the dog section was sold out on a Saturday in late May? I went to a Sox game last year and the only non-Sox highlight on the jumbotron was a Cardinal walk off home run against the Cubs. That’s just mean-spirited.
TH: What is one of your best memories in the bleachers?
LB: In 1987, we worshipped at the altar of Andre Dawson. Dawson was a stoic crippled figure in right field who had that glorious MVP season. All season long, everyone in the bleachers would stand up and bow down to him. In his last at bat for the season he hit a homerun. We were standing on the slabs in the bleachers. After he took the field, Andre Dawson for the first time all year bowed down to the bleachers to thank us, and I wept like a teeny tiny little baby. Baseball is one of the few things that has made me cry as much as Old Yeller.
TH: Did you heckle in the bleachers?
LB: Heckling Lenny Dykstra was some of the finest work I’ve ever done in the bleachers. I remember the first official night game at Wrigley. The Cubs played the Mets and two guys spilled beer on Lenny Dykstra’s head. While this lacked class, sportsmanship, and wasted perfectly good beer, I could not stop laughing. I also loved the Darryl Strawberry singsong chants. The whole ballpark would be chanting “Darryl”. It really got to him. The 1986 Mets were loathesome.
TH: What does it mean to be a Cubs fan?
LB: Wind-whipped Aprils and sun-dappled Junes. Bleachers with Buddha. Sneaking into empty box seats that the corporations didn’t have time to scalp. Taking your son to a game when he’s old enough to care, but young enough to believe. Turning to your wife with a three run lead and five outs to go in game six, letting a half smile form because this is it. No more room for doubt. No more second guessing. No more empty Octobers. This is it. World Series. All the tragedies, all the impossible collapses, all the broken promises resolved. And then? 8 runs. Greatest glory reduced to abject shock. Knowing somehow I would always return.
TH: How did you handle being a Cubs fan during the playoffs last year?
LB: Not well. A mixture of jubilation and unrelieved crushing tension. I was interviewed before game six by Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News, and I jokingly said that every statistic, every prediction, everything points to how the Cubs can’t lose, but every Cubs fan is wondering how they could lose.
TH: With the barrage of injuries this year, what position can you fill in a pinch?
LB: I was a starting pitcher in high school. If the Cubs ever need three quick outs, I am a fire-balling southpaw with a nasty curve and no control. I would be at least as effective as Al Nipper ever was.
TH: You and Billy Corgan do the world renowned “Wrigleyville Report” on XRT every Monday and Friday morning. What have you learned about baseball and being a Cubs fan from Billy? What have you taught him?
LB: I’ve learned from Billy that faith in the Chicago Cubs is just like religious faith. It has no grounding in common sense. I’ve taught Billy that waking up before 8 A.M. is not all it’s cracked up to be.
TH: During the “Wrigleyville Report,” you once said Kyle Farnsworth should play with his shirt off. Can you explain this theory?
LB: Farnsworth has a real animal side to his pitching. A uniform confines him. You wouldn’t dress up a mighty Bengal tiger in flannel pinstripes. Yogi Berra said, ‘baseball is 90% mental — the other half is physical’. It is all about attitude. If you want Farnsworth to express his inner self you need to let him pitch with his shirt off. If he can throw a 100 mph fastball with a shirt, he can throw a 110 mph fastball with no shirt. No sliders, no change ups, just 110 mph fastballs from a guy naked from the waist up.
TH: What about Corey Patterson? He likes to take his shirt off.
LB: Make him lead off and fine him $5000 every time he swings at the first pitch, and he must attempt to bunt until he has two strikes. Never has anyone so fast done so little.
TH: You were once named sexiest DJ in 1985. Any advice to Kyle Farnsworth on how to be sexy?
LB: Quote more poetry.
TH: What are some of the greatest games you’ve been to?
LB: The best Cubs game had to have been the doubleheader sweep over the Pirates last September to win the division. The loudest and most frightening crowd reaction was when Sammy Sosa hit one out at the bottom of the ninth to tie up the game against the Marlins in game one of the playoffs. The best non-Cubs game was at Yankee’s stadium for Mickey Mantle’s 500th homerun. I still have the scorecard from that game.
TH: What would you do if your son became a Sox fan?
LB: I’ve known people who have had children who have become Sox fans that have somehow gone on to lead productive lives. My son went to 15 Cubs games before he was 1. He’s in fourth grade now, and after seeing the Cubs blow Mark Prior’s lead in Prior’s first game this year, I think making your only son a Cubs fan may be a very cruel thing to do.
TH: What do you put on your hotdog?
LB: Don’t you find it a tragedy that in the cathedral of Chicago baseball, you can’t get a Chicago style hot dog? Take out some of these counters that have nachos and pizza and put in an assembly line for a Chicago style hot dog—tomatoes, hot peppers, celery salt, the works. If you don’t want a Chicago style dog, go to Detroit.
TH: Do you participate in any rituals or superstitions during a Cubs game?
LB: Gumbo from Heaven on Seven before a game, and rally caps are employed at every useless opportunity.
TH: I read you would love to be a cotton candy vendor at Wrigley. What would be your sales pitch?
LB: I would sing the Echo and the Bunnymen lyric, “Lips like sugar, sugar kisses!” In a high-pitched tenor, it would be irresistible.
TH: What song would be most appropriate to play over the Wrigley Field system if the Cubs made the World Series?
LB: Randy Newman’s orchestral music from The Natural, or more appropriately The Ramones “I Want to be Sedated.”
TH: What is your favorite Cubs tribute song?
LB: “Mark Prior” sung to the tune of U2’s “Desire,” written by my producer Pete Crozier and performed by Eric Howell.
TH: What piece of you—talent, family member, body part—would you trade to see the Cubs win a World Series?
LB: I’ve traded my life, isn’t that enough?