Cubs Fans Who Didn’t Make It: a Banker, a Nun and a Moving ManBy
They rooted for decades but passed away just before the Series
‘Annie, they won the division, hang on,’ said a daughter
Much attention has been paid to those long-suffering, elderly Chicago Cubs fans who finally got to see their beloved team play in the World Series. The last time was in 1945 and they haven’t won a Series since 1908.
But then there are those who suffered a Shakespearian kind of fate this year. They watched as their talented young team won more games than any other and began the drive to the World Series. Then, in the final days, they passed away. Here are some of their stories.
After serving in the U.S. Army, in Manila, Loren Davidson returned to Chicago and built a career as a credit manager for Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions.
He had grown up poor on a farm in Salem, Illinois, nearer to St. Louis than Chicago. But his dad was from Chicago, so he became a Cubs fan.
Despite macular degeneration that left him mostly blind for more than two decades, Davidson made it to Wrigley Field a few times each year with his son, Ron, who would describe each play while Loren tried to make out the action with a pair of binoculars. The last time they went was on his 90th birthday two years ago. When they ate at the Stadium Club that day, the restaurant manager wouldn’t let them pay and took their photo.
On Sept. 15, Davidson cheered wildly as the Cubs clinched their division. But on Oct. 14, at age 92, Davidson died, the day before the Cubs would open their playoff series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The Cubs won,” Ron said. “That was a great day with my Dad. He’s rooting from heaven now.”
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Anne McMahon was a mischievous and funny girl who surprised everyone by becoming a nun when she was 20, her sister Dolores Michael said. She grew up in the River Forest suburb of Chicago. In the 1960s she insisted on wearing street clothes instead of a habit. She voted Republican, not what people thought a nun would do.
One habit she got into early was rooting for the Cubs like her dad. When she dropped out of the Sinsinawa Dominican order in Wisconsin in the 1970s, she moved to New Mexico and often traveled to see the team in spring training in Mesa, sometimes driving her bright yellow Porsche. “That car was a lemon,” Dolores said.
Working for others wasn’t for her. She spent her time managing her stock portfolio. “She was fighting with the world, and wanted to be the top dog,” her sister said. “If she’d stayed on as a nun she would have wanted to be Pope.”
She moved back to Chicago when her health began failing a decade ago. She would often go out to Wrigley where her extended family would get a box with a catered lunch. Her brother-in-law Thomas Michael, Dolores’s husband, had once owned shares in the Cubs.
She continued to be interested in stocks and in the fate of the Cubs, even as dementia set in.
“I said, ‘Annie, they won the division, just hang on a little while,”’ Dolores said. “But she needed to go as soon as she could.” Anne McMahon died Oct. 5 at age 81. Two days later, the Cubs were in the playoffs.
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Louis DeBella’s life revolved around the Cubs. He watched every game on television. “If there was a game on TV he was staying home to watch,” said his daughter Michelle Monbrod. “He would stick by them. The losing seasons didn’t matter.”
DeBella became a fan in 1945, when he was 12 and got caught up in the battle between the Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. He was too poor to attend World Series games that year. His father sold junk and ran a small deli out of his South Side home.
Louis dropped out of school a few years later, after eighth grade. He worked his way up from a furniture delivery man to owning a moving company, LDB Movers. His wife Joan worked with him, preparing estimates and handling scheduling.
“Things he couldn’t have as a child he got for us, like an in-ground pool,” Michelle said. His fandom went deep. His home was decorated with signed photos of Ryne Sandberg and Joe DiMaggio.
“I learned at a young age if I want to have a conversation with my father I better learn about sports,” Michelle said. Each year they would go to Wrigley to see games with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
DeBella had been feeling out of sorts of late. In September, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent some time in the hospital, always with the Cubs games on. Twenty days after he got out of the hospital he died, on Oct. 5, age 83.
“He was very excited. He kept saying they could go all the way,” Michelle said. “The last thing I said to him that he could understand was ‘The Cubs are playing the Giants.’ He died at home.”
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