One familiar figure who’s long covered the Chicago Cubs looks set to move on. Gordon Wittenmyer started covering the team in 2007 for The Chicago Sun-Times, then joined NBC Sports Chicago ahead of the 2020 season. His contract has now expired, though. With that in mind, Wittenmyer wrote a notable reflection on his history with the Cubs for the RSN’s website.
Press box wag: "I'm out."
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) January 1, 2023
There, Wittenmyer (seen at top doing a NBC Sports Chicago hit from the MLB Winter Meetings last month) looks back on how he initially quit school at 19 in 1984 and drove from Spokane to Chicago with the idea of covering the Cubs for The Chicago Tribune, only to find he couldn’t even get a meeting. He did get to see a Cubs’ game, though. He’d return to Washington after a week, but would eventually make it back to Chicago in 2007, covering the Cubs for the Sun-Times (after getting his degree and working several other beats), then shifting to NBC Sports Chicago (his columns for them can be found here) in 2020. And he has some notable musings on what covering the team has meant to him:
It’s been pretty much all Cubs, Wrigley and Dewar’s in the 16 seasons since then — a stretch that included a reunion with the first manager I covered on a beat (Lou Piniella), a manager I’d covered for a year in Anaheim as a bench coach (Joe Maddon), a manager I went fishing with for a back-page Sun-Times story (Mike Quade), and most recently a manager with whom I have exchanged a number of well-intentioned double birds.
It also included arguably the most celebrated championship in American team sports history, the first two — yes, two — tanking rebuilds in history for an elite-revenue MLB team since the dawn of free agency, a job change along the way to NBC Sports Chicago, a lot of great dudes (and a few douches) to cover over the years and countless great colleagues who became great friends.
Wittenmyer makes it clear that he doesn’t know what’s next for him. But he expresses an interest in staying in baseball, in Chicago or elsewhere. He writes that “the only thing for sure as this rube’s contract has run its course with NBC is that the ride is far from finished.” And he has one particularly notable line there:
But no matter how hard the game seems to push against those who play the longest, even on this side of the business, it’s nothing compared to the heart that still skips a beat in one certain, older kid when it’s game time on a summer day at a ballpark.
Covering any team for 16 seasons is impressive, and as Wittenmyer notes, there were a lot of significant ups and downs for the Cubs in that time. So he certainly had lots to cover. Our best goes out to him as he looks for what’s next.