Harry Caray, Mookie Wilson, and One Alaskan Family

My main chore as a child was to deliver Rainier from the crisper of the fridge into the hands of my stepdad and uncles as they watched Cubs baseball. The slurred voice of Harry Caray, the alcoholic sportscaster for the Cubs, boomed from the wooden paneled television that sat on the floor of our trailer. My stepdad and his friends mimicked Harry Caray by getting increasingly buzzed as the innings bunted along. We’d sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch, shouting towards the cable box that delivered WGN to Kodiak and concomitantly ensured a legion of Chicago sports fans on the island.

My younger sister was born to be a Chicago fan. She is such a rabid Bears supporter that she switched car insurance companies when State Farm hired a Green Bay Packers quarterback to be their spokesperson. She had very little choice but to love Chicago. Her name derived from a Cubs game, after all. 

The evening before my sister was born, Mom was tired. She was tired of the game, tired of the guys on the couch, tired of being pregnant. “Go home, Ronnie!” she hollered at the most frequent couch denizen.

“Listen, Pam--- the bases are loaded. Mookie Wilson is coming up to bat. If he hits a homer it’s a grand slam and the game is over. And you have to name your child Mookie!”

Mom huffed and turned away, her noncommittal answer implying consent.

Mookie Wilson indeed hit that grand slam, the game was over, and Mom’s water broke later that night.

The next morning, Ronnie visited her and my newborn sister at the hospital. He chuckled, “Well, we know what her name is!”

“I am not putting that on the birth certificate,” Mom responded. But she was called Mookie from the day of her birth. And for years, when we four children sang along with Harry Caray while my stepdad conducted with one hand and clung to a Rainer with the other, we were proud to have a sister named for a Cubbie.

 Newborn Mookie in the arms of Gustav. 

Newborn Mookie in the arms of Gustav. 

Or, so the story went for 29 years, until the Cubs made it to the World Series and I shared the story of Mookie’s name on Facebook. “Mookie Wilson never played for the Cubs,” commented a friend from Nevada.

Peculiar, I think. A quick search of baseball stats confirmed it as fact. On August 6, 1987, Mookie Wilson was playing for the New York Mets against the Cubs. His run did bring the game to an end--- in favor of the Mets! My sister was named for the player who beat the Cubbies, not for the Chicago hero that we siblings mistakenly thought he was.

“You mean my entire life has been a lie?” My sister said in disbelief as I told her she was named for a Mets player.

Well, not quite. Carrie Rose Trueman is the name on her birth certificate, chosen in honor of two great grandmothers. But I wonder if my stepdad approved of the name partially because it was shared by Harry Caray, that voice who competed with the yelps of his infant daughter while my stepdad paced back and forth in front of the television, cooing to his baby. 

These days, my sister goes by Carrie.