For the Jumbotron

by Will Musgrove

I don’t even like baseball. I don’t care about rooting for the home team, for any team. You wouldn’t think that by looking at me. I come to each Cubs’ game dressed in an expensive jersey, a foam finger attached to my right hand declaring us as number one among many. On nice days, I even paint my face a crowd-pleasing baby bear blue.


I do it for the jumbotron.

I buy season tickets every year for the little gaps of time between innings where we’re told to make some noise, to dance, to kiss our loved ones. Those little gaps of filler where the Cubbies toss the ball around and the pitcher warms up are my sport. I never miss a game for a chance to be seen, for a chance of a million pixels of me.

Before he passed, dad used to bring me to games, used to call me his little slugger despite me never hitting a home run in my life, and I’d sit and wait and pray to be put on the gigantic screen behind the ivy. It was the only way I could think of to make him proud. I wanted to be good at baseball but wasn’t. I wanted to be good not because I loved the game but because I loved him. I loved him even though he only cared about how fast I could run (not fast) and how hard I could throw (not hard).

How could I not love him?

He was my dad.

I didn’t have any luck back then.

I didn’t know the rules, didn’t know how to play.

I’ve continued to strike out, to borrow their terminology.

But I’m ready to be called up.

We’re down one going into the bottom of the ninth.

There’s hope.

“Let them hear you, folks,” the announcer says over Wrigley’s intercom.

I stand—a few sections back above the home dugout, perfect for the cameras to spot—and pump my fist. I cheer using his cheers. I cup my mouth and shout: “Let’s go, Cubbies, let’s go.” I keep my eyes focused on the field, on the upcoming action. Those who look at the jumbotron are never on it. It must be a surprise. I summon dad. He’s watching, can see I’m keeping tradition. Because what’s baseball but a lineage of sons keeping tradition?

For a second, I’m a real fan.

For a second, I want to win at all costs.

I want to win, win, win.

Someone pats my leg. It’s the man sitting next to me. He points. I follow the tip of his finger, and there I am, eighty feet wide and one hundred feet tall, sweating in the July heat. There I am wearing my Ernie Banks pinstripe jersey. There I am gesturing upward, calling my shot. There I am as he’d hoped to see me.

But it isn’t me.

No, it isn’t me.

Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Penn Review, X-R-A-Y, Sundog Lit, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. Connect on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove or at