Ernie Banks, an MLB Hall of Famer and longtime face of the Chicago Cubs organization, died last week at the age of 83. He was an amazing shortstop, winning gold gloves and home run titles and MVP awards during his career, but perhaps he will be best known as representing the Cubs organization better than any other player. The team has been notorious for its inability to secure a World Series title, having not won since 1907 and not even making the big series since 1945. Yet its fans remain some of the friendliest in baseball (this is coming from an Ohio sports fan, a world of bitterness and rants...both Cincinnati and Cleveland).
Check out five music stars who have also kept their tempers in check while supporting the Cubs over the years:
Not as many people realize that Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins hail from Chicago as they should...it's just that Seattle kind got all of the alternative rock attention during the early '90s. Jack White famously appeared looking glum in a Cubs uniform during the 2014 season but Corgan is a frequent and happy attendee, even appearing for in-game coverage on a local radio station and signing "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. Although the Cubs may get most of Corgan's love, he's also a huge Bulls and Blackhawks fan and operates the Resistance Pro wrestling league out of Chicago.
Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins may not exactly have been grunge but the association can be forgiven. Just like the Pumpkins frontman, a majority of the bands coming out of Seattle were actually huge supporters of the local sports scene, despite the anti-jock image. Members of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains were especially fans of the Supersonics NBA team before it moved to Oklahoma, but they gave love to the MLB Mariners and NFL Seahawks as well. Which is why it's somewhat confusing as to how Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder became a Cubs fan. He hails from San Diego (home of the Padres) and made his fame in the Northwest. Either way, his band played at Wrigley during its 2013 tour and Vedder brought Banks out to the crowd for a song, perhaps the loudest ovation of the night.
Jimmy Buffett is also no Chicago native (was his tropical theme a hint) but his love of Cubs baseball is easier to explain than Vedder's: Buffett worked often with Chicago songwriter Steve Goodman, who's best known among Cubbies faithful for writing the anthem "Go Cubs Go" that gets sung following every home win. Goodman passed away during 1994 right as the team was clinching the NL Central, and Buffett took the opportunity to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the first home game of the playoffs. "It may be my greatest baseball memory," Buffett said. "I believe his spirit truly was at Wrigley Field that day."
Hank Williams Jr.
This one's also a bit of a head-scratcher. Williams is obviously a fan of the NFL, thanks to the millions he's made off of writing the song that opened Monday Night Football for more than 20 years ("All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight") however many were surprised when the country icon listed all of his favorite sports teams during an interview with Sports Business Daily. The The rocker was born in Louisiana yet he claimed to support the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL) and Alabama Crimson Tide (NCAA), while also citing the Cubs as his go-to baseball team, although he admitted at the time (2008) that the team's recent struggles had bummed him out, and he steered the conversation away from discussing Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who grabbed a foul ball from outfielder Moisés Alou and prolonging an inning where the team would give up eight more runs...and blow their first shot at the Pennant in 50 years.
John Belushi was certainly more of a comedian than a musician but his most famous role, that of Jake Blues in the classic comedy The Blues Brothers (and in his/our defense, he did perform live with the group when the Blues Brothers toured). That film gave Belushi, a native Chicagoan, plenty of opportunities to air his knowledge and allegiance for the region, including scenes where both police and the Illinois Nazi Party are fooled into searching out the brothers at 1060 W. Addison St, an address as memorable as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to Cubs fans. Although Belushi died during 1982, his brother and fellow comedian Jim Belushi is still a regular at Wrigley.