1983 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Former big league player, coach and manager Lee Elia came across as a friendly, mild mannered guy – except on this date in 1983.
Elia was managing the Chicago Cubs at the time. They may have been loveable losers, but they hadn’t created the cult following they enjoy today.
The Cubs suffered in relative obscurity on many weekday afternoons back then (lights in Wrigley were still 5 years away). The paid attendance on April 29, 1983 was 9,391, and it was a Friday! Two days earlier 3,384 fans showed up. Twenty years later there would typically be that many people standing in line for a Budweiser.
They lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on this date. It was the 14th loss in the first 19 games of 1983.
Lee was not happy, but it wasn’t his players who ticked him off. The following is unedited transcript of what Elia told a reporter who had an audiocassette recorder rolling:
CAUTION: EXTREME PROFANITY
“Fuck those fuckin’ fans who come out here and say they’re Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you, rippin’ every fuckin’ thing you do. I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day, because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.
They’re really, really behind you around here…my fuckin’ ass. What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin’ players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin’ nickel-dime people who turn up? The motherfuckers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the fuckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a fuckin’ living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers. Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin’ cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. We got guys bustin’ their fuckin’ ass, and them fuckin’ people boo. And that’s the Cubs? My fuckin’ ass. They talk about the great fuckin’ support the players get around here. I haven’t see it this fuckin’ year. Everybody associated with this organization have been winners their whole fuckin’ life. Everybody. And the credit is not given in that respect.
Alright, they don’t show because we’re 5 and 14…and unfortunately, that’s the criteria of them dumb fifteen motherfuckin’ percent that come out to day baseball. The other eighty-five percent are earning a living. I tell you, it’ll take more than a 5 and 12 or 5 and 14 to destroy the makeup of this club. I guarantee you that. There’s some fuckin’ pros out there that wanna win. But you’re stuck in a fuckin’ stigma of the fuckin’ Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals an all that cheap shut. It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s a disheartening fuckin’ situation that we’re in right now. Anybody who was associated with the Cub organization four or five years ago that came back and sees the multitude of progress that’s been made will understand that if they’re baseball people, that 5 and 14 doesn’t negate all that work. We got 143 fuckin’ games left.
What I’m tryin’ to say is don’t rip them fuckin’ guys out there. Rip me. If you wanna rip somebody, rip my fuckin’ ass. But don’t rip them fuckin’ guys ’cause they’re givin’ everything they can give. And right now they’re tryin’ to do more than God gave ’em, and that’s why we make the simple mistakes. That’s exactly why.”
The amazing thing is Elia didn’t get fired for his obscenity laced tirade, at least not right away. He kept his job for four more months. He even managed again – the Philadelphia Phillies in 1987 and ’88.
The Philadelphia Enquirer Multimedia, April 23, 2008
Lee Elia managerial record