To begin with, I grew up going to at least a few Padres games every year, notably with my dad and my grandmother on his side when the Phillies were in town. He had grown up just outside of Philadelphia and my grandmother loved the Phightin' Phils, but I had no real allegiance until the summer of 1992, when I was ten years old.
For some reason, my brother and I decided to put aside some of our weekly allowance that was normally earmarked for Ninja Turtles and spend it on packs of 1992 Score from the local drug store. I remember opening a pack on one Sunday morning after church and finding a card that would change baseball for me.
I don't know what it was about this particular card, but I do remember thinking that it was just about the coolest thing that I had ever seen. I decided then and there that I now had a favorite baseball player.
So, I now had a favorite baseball player, but my loyalties were still tied loosely to the Padres. Later that summer, it would change for good.
My grandfather on my Mom's side passed away that June. On Father's Day, no less. He was a Scottish immigrant who had settled outside of Chicago, and displaying a keen acumen, decided that he would be a Cub fan. It was never a huge thing when I was growing up, but WGN was on at his house in the summers and perhaps I subconsciously absorbed the sounds of Harry Caray and Steve Stone and that provided a place for my new Sandberg fanhood to germinate.
Later that summer we were hiking on vacation in northern California in a small lake town that we had been visiting for years, when I decided to stop for a short water break. While sitting, I looked around me and lo and behold, right behind my rock was sitting a bright blue Cubs cap. I picked it up and looked around. Not a soul but our group. That sealed the deal. I decided that the cap was clearly a sign from my grandfather that I had made the right choice in choosing the Cubs.
Sentimental pap? Perhaps, but I still believe, to this day, that it was a sign, and I have proudly worn my Cub love on my sleeve ever since. Never wavering through the few good times and the more plentiful trying times. I have since traveled to Chicago in the dead of winter no less than three times to attend the annual Cub Convention and have attended countless Cub games here in California, versus the Padres, Giants and Dodgers.
So that's my story. What's yours?