Charlie Werth

On Sunday, a truly beautiful day for a ball game, the Cubs did the quintessential Cubbie thing.

They took the rubber game in the one series at least some Cubs fans thought they should lose, beating Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies 7-1.

As Sandberg strode to home plate to deliver his starting lineup, the diehard sitting on my left noted that the Hall of Fame second baseman was still doing everything right. Just as he did when he went to the minors to learn the art of managing, only to be spurned twice when the opportunity to manage the Cubs went to others.

In this game, the Phillies had a veteran pitching, Kyle Kendrick, and the Cubs a rookie, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has a major-league arm, but not always major-league control.

This time, however, Arrieta came through, striking out four batters and allowing just one run into the seventh inning, when he was taken out.

The Cubs scratched out a run in the first inning, as Darwin Barney scored on a single by Ryan Sweeney, and the talk around me turned to great players these fans had seen and never forgotten: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente.

The veteran fan on my right turned out to be former Wall Street Journal staffer and PR pro Bill Cahill, who saw his first Cubs game at Wrigley in 1929 with his father, who “went to his grave” still steamed about Hack Wilson losing two balls in the sun in that year’s World Series.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo hit a double in the third and Starlin Castro scored.

The Phillies got a home run in the fourth, but the Cubs blew it open in the bottom of that inning, with Donnie Murphy singling, Brian Bogusevic hitting a ball that got lost in the ivy (and counted as a double), and Welington Castillo getting a double and scoring on a fly by Barney, giving the Cubs a 5-1 lead.

Then, in the eighth inning, Sweeney walked in and Castro hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in another run.

Arietta was followed on the mound by lefty James Russell, Pedro Strop, and Blake Parker, who ended the game by catching a pop-up foul in the top of the ninth.

Jake Bardeson

The diehard said Arrieta is showing promise, Sweeney and Bogusevic look like the real thing, and Castro was the defensive star. He particularly admired a play Castro made in the ninth, charging a slowly hit grounder, catching it bare-handed, and throwing the runner out.

But the most beautiful play of the game was another bare-handed catch, in the bottom of the fourth and in the stands—right in front of Bill Cahill. That’s when Jake Bardeson of Crown Point, Indiana, leaped into a foul to his right, closed his hand on the ball, and without a moment’s hesitation handed it over to the kid with the glove who happened to be sitting a few seats to his left.

That was Charlie Werth, who lives in Wilmette and, like Cahill, will have reason to remember the Cubs game he saw when he was eight years old.

It’ll be the one where the tattooed stranger made a flying catch and gave him the trophy.