Sports fans, as you know, can be an eccentric bunch. Who among us hasn’t cursed out a hated rival or thrown the television remote in anguish after a particularly gut-wrenching loss? Cubs fans, at least prior to 2016, have been through more hardships than most. From billy goats to Steve Bartman, it’s been a tortured existence for Cubs fans over the past century and change.
But even when the going got tough, this long-suffering Cubs fan, identified as the father of Twitter user Don Kostelec, never lost his faith in the Northsiders. Just kidding—he lost faith in them CONSTANTLY. In fact, he threatened to abandon his Cubs at nearly every turn, frequently declaring himself a “free agent fan.” To let teams know of his availability, Kostelec’s father, Don Sr., would often write letters to rival clubs (emailing wasn’t a thing yet), offering his fanhood to the highest bidder. Hilariously, several teams wrote back including the Mariners, Expos and Brewers.
Kostelec’s old man received each of these letters in February of 1981. Clearly Don Sr. had a bone to pick with Cubs management after the team’s embarrassing last-place NL East finish in 1980. Of the three teams who responded, only the Brewers were interested in taking him on as a new fan, though Mariners PR director Randy Adamack could certainly relate to Don Sr.’s plight. That’s because he actually suited up for the Cubs, serving as their backup catcher for a span in the 1950s.
Don Sr.’s complicated fandom raises plenty of questions. Should we label him a fair-weather fan for openly cheating on his beloved Cubs (or at least threatening to)? Or do his actions, though unorthodox, warrant our admiration? Personally, I commend Don Sr. for his deep investment in a franchise known for delivering a steady diet of gut punches and emotionally-scarring defeats.
Don Sr. is no longer with us, but his son tells us he remained a Cubs fan through thick and thin, even enjoying a seven-year run as a Wrigley Field employee after retiring from his first career. And yes, he did live to see the Cubs raise a World Series banner in 2016.
It’s unclear just how many teams Don Sr. reached out to during his “free agency” period in the 1980s, though we can be pretty sure the White Sox weren’t one of them. In fact, he even put in a request for a customized “World’s No. 1 Sox Hater” brick on the Wrigley Field promenade, which the Cubs promptly rejected. Classic Don.