Lifelong Cubs fan Newhart facing G6 dilemma

Lifelong Cubs fan Newhart facing G6 dilemma

CHICAGO -- Bob Newhart has a little bit of a problem facing him Tuesday night.

He's going to dinner with Don Rickles, which in and of itself isn't an issue. It's difficult to imagine a more entertaining get-together than one involving these comedic legends, along with their wives, Ginny Newhart and Barbara Rickles. But this dinner also bumps up against Game 6 of the World Series in Cleveland for this die-hard Cubs fan of the past eight decades.

"Of all the days for him to pick to have dinner," Newhart told "It's when the Cubs could be eliminated or could advance to the final game.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

"I'm going to have to figure out a way to sneak a radio in. Maybe we'll go to a restaurant where they have TV."

Newhart, 87, and as immensely affable as he is immensely talented, has been closely following this historic Cubs run throughout the 2016 season and into the World Series. Fans of the legendary comedian, who brought "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart" to millions of television viewers, have the chance to share Newhart's angst and celebration through his Twitter account, @BobNewhart.

Shop for Cubs World Series and NL champs gear

When the Cubs rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to take Game 4 from the Giants and claim the National League Division Series, Newhart tweeted a picture of himself holding the "W" flag in front of a television showing Aroldis Chapman's final strikeout of Brandon Belt. His wife took the picture; the Cubs had sent him the flag and the hat; and his daughter updated his social media accounts.

Added to the picture was the humorous commentary: "Cubs, I am 87 and I am getting too old for this." His most recent tweet came Sunday night after the Cubs returned the World Series to Cleveland via a 3-2 victory, stating, "One thing I've learned in 80 years of being a Cubs fan … you can never count the Cubbies out. #GoCubsGo #FlytheW."

"It just went crazy," Newhart said of the Twitter response following the Giants' victory post. "It just took off. My daughter told me there were like 2.3 million hits or something. So that just started this whole thing."

The Cubs last reached the World Series in 1945, falling to the Tigers in a seven-game set that Newhart was unable to attend. He remembers being on LaSalle St. and watching a parade of Cubs players, including Phil Cavarretta and Stan Hack, each in their own convertibles coming down the street in celebration of the NL pennant.

Newhart's earliest memory of being a Cubs fan is a photo taken with his mom at Wrigley Field when Newhart estimates he was 6 or 7 years old.

"As you know, the North Side pretty much went for the Cubs. The South Side pretty much went for the White Sox and I was on the West Side. I was on the far West Side," Newhart said. "And that was kind of a jump ball. Whichever team you wanted to go with, you could go with.

"I found the White Sox just boring. I don't know if they still are, but they were then. Nellie Fox would lead off, he'd get a little squib single, and then Luis Aparicio would bunt and move him down to second and then he'd steal third and then somebody would fly out to left field and he'd score from third. So it was 1-0.

"That's the way the game ended," Newhart said. "Whereas the Cubs, you never knew what the hell was going to happen."

Newhart tells the story of being at a game with his wife but leaving later in the contest, with the Cubs down, 3-0, to beat traffic on Addison. A roar went up from the crowd as they were walking away, which they quickly found out was the result of a Cubs pitcher hitting a home run.

"If I had to write a book about the Cubs, I would call it, 'The Pitcher Hit a Home Run,'" Newhart said. "It symbolized the Cubs. You never knew what the hell was going to happen."

In search of a greatest personal Cubs memory, Newhart needed a moment to think. He then spoke of another game attended with his wife, when somewhere around 15 to 20 kids came down between innings and had him sign their scorecards. Years later, while Newhart was preparing for one of his many appearances with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," he was getting ready in a dressing room near where "The Richard Pryor Show" was being taped.

"Someone knocked on the door and it's John Belushi," Newhart said. "And he says, 'Hi, I'm John Belushi.' I said, 'I know who you are, John. I admire your work very much on "Saturday Night Live."'

"He said, 'Do you remember years ago that you signed a scorecard for a bunch of kids?' I said, 'Yes, I was with my wife.' He said, 'I was one of those kids.'"

That "it's-a-small-world" moment could be supplanted by two more wins from the Cubs and their first World Series title since 1908. Newhart looks forward to the celebration for the great people of Chicago, although he's not making any predictions.

"Cubs fans, you are not afforded good feelings," Newhart said. "When you wake up in the morning, it's kind of like, 'Oh, good, a car didn't hit me yesterday.'"

In reaching the World Series, the Cubs had to beat the Dodgers -- the favorite team of Rickles. But Newhart said there was no friendly wager made with his Tuesday night dinner companion.

"No, he's very cheap," said Newhart with perfect deadpan delivery. "He doesn't bet. He's very cheap. Then you have to explain to him what a bet is. It's a whole long process and I just didn't even bother bringing it up."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.