TIME Baseball

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Reflects on the Chicago Cubs

STEVENS
Jeff Roberson—AP John Paul Stevens winds up to throw out the first pitch before the start of the Chicago Cubs game with the Cincinnati Reds, in Chicago, on Sept. 14, 2005.

Stevens never thought he’d live to see another Cubs pennant

John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court justice, sat behind third base at the first World Series game ever played at Wrigley Field, back in 1929, when he was nine. So no way would Stevens, who grew up in Chicago and is a lifelong Cubs fan, miss a return trip. Stevens, 96, plans on being at Wrigley for Game 3 of the World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. The same Wrigley Field where Stevens also saw Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in the 1932 Series, when the Yankee legend pointed his bat toward center field before smacking a home run against Cubs pitcher Charlie Root.

“I remember it very well,” Stevens tells TIME in a telephone interview. “I was sitting behind third base, with my dad, and it really happened.”

Stevens laughs while reflecting on his near century-long run with the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908. “Well, you have to be patient,” says Stevens. “Patience is certainly a virtue.” Recently, Stevens has come to think that such composure influences his career as a jurist. Cubs fandom paid off.

Not that he’s satisfied. Stevens never thought he’d live to see another Cubs pennant–they last won the National League in 1945— lest a World Series win. “That I can say that categorically,” Stevens says. If the Cubs lose the World Series, will he accept the outcome? Stevens laughs. “That’s sort of like ‘will I accept the outcome of the presidential election,’” Stevens says. “Sure. I don’t have much choice.”

Stevens still wants to see some constitutional revisions, which were the subject of his 2014 book Six Amendments, How and Why We Should Change The Constitution. They include abolishing the death penalty, and reinterpreting the Second Amendment. “It was enacted for the states to be able to provide arms for their militias,” say Stevens. “And it was not intended to give private citizens who do not serve in the militia any right to bear arms.”

Now that the Cubs are on the brink of championship, anything’s possible, right? Maybe Stevens will live to see these fixes.

“No, no,” he says. “I’m not that optimistic.”

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