04.29.13

Lee Elia Was Never Good At Math

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 8:59 pm by

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Lee Elia’s legendary rant against day baseball and the shiftless, unemployable persons Wrigley patrons who enjoy it (“the motherfuckers don’t even work, that’s why they’re out at the fucking game”). The Chicago Sun-Times’ Toni Ginetti recalls the Cubs’ 4-3 to Dodgers that day, and Elia’s explosive reaction.

Keith Moreland remembers getting beer thrown at him as he walked off the field that day. Elia was right behind him.

“I got angry, started to lunge, and he said ‘Go on,’ and all the way down the line he was just ranting and raving. I thought he was mad at me,’’ the Cubs radio analyst said.

But Elia was angry at the fans. His rant moments later was triggered by a question from an out-of-town reporter asking if he thought the fans were still backing the team.

“There’s no question that if it happened today, he would have been fired that night,’’ said Bob Ibach, then the Cubs’ director of media relations.

In fact, general manager Dallas Green was ready to dismiss Elia after hearing the tape — and would have but for a chance circumstance that saw Elia in his office when Green called.

“There were no cellphones of course, and Lee told me later he had left because he was supposed to be a celebrity umpire for his daughter Tania’s softball game,’’ Ibach said. “But he left his keys in his office, came back and heard the phone.

“Had he left, Dallas would have fired him that night.’’

Instead, a mortified Elia listened to the tape and realized what his words sounded like.

“Lee told me years later ‘I was never good at math,’ ’’ Ibach said, Elia cursing “15 percent of fans’’ when he was thinking about those 15 to 20 he had just encountered.

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