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Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Here's to Harry


As is the tradition every year on the anniversary of Harry Caray's birthday, fans all over the world raised a glass Tuesday night in honor of the beloved Cubs broadcaster. This year, they also paid tribute to legendary player and announcer Ron Santo, who passed away this past December.

Caray
Fans raised a glass to honor Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.

As fans packed the bar at Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse, the staff passed out extra-large black glasses, cutouts with Harry's face on them and glasses of Harry's favorite, Budweiser. (He was, after all, a "Cub fan, Bud man.") Just before 6 p.m. Harry's widow, Dutchie, joined newly elected NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent, Santo's son Ron Santo Jr., former White Sox outfielder Ron Kittle, Cubs president Crane Kenney and the hosts of ESPN 1000's "Afternoon Saloon" on stage for the toast and the traditional singing of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."

People across the world were encouraged to raise their glasses from afar, and some, like minor league baseball's Tulsa Drillers, held big toast parties of their own. Participants in 120 countries -- and counting -- have raised their glasses to Harry over the years, including some big-name celebrities. Toasts from the likes of Will Ferrell, Jeremy Piven and Eddie Vedder are all on the event's Facebook page.

Harry has been gone for 13 years, but he's still a big part of Cubs culture, from the statue of him outside Wrigley Field, to the celebrities who honor his memory by singing in the seventh inning stretch at every home game. As I joined the rest of the overflowing bar, all singing Harry's favorite baseball tune, I was reminded of how important tradition is to bringing a fan base together. Harry and Ron were originals, the kind of men you can't ever replace in the booth or leave out of team lore. They'll always be a part of Cubs history and will surely be two of the first men Cubs fans think of if the team ever finds a way to bring that World Series trophy home to the Friendly Confines.

So here's to Harry, and to Ron, may the Cubs give you both something to smile about very soon.