Lee Elia was one of a handful of former Cubs players who went on later to manage the team. His Cub playing career was barely noticeable. He played in 15 games in 1968 and had 17 at bats with an average of .176. Yet somehow he managed to get featured by Topps in both 1968 and 1969.
But his tenure as Cubs manager, well, it was very memorable!
He was hired on October 22, 1981, by new general manager Dallas Green, coming over from the Phillies organization as Green did. 1982 would be the first complete season under Tribune Company ownership and the new G.M. coined the phrase "Building a New Tradition." Green wanted to shed the "loser" tag that surrounded the Cubs organization. Many long-time employees were let go and new people, many with Philadelphia ties, were brought in.
A happy looking Lee Elia, Donruss 1983
The 1982 season didn't exactly build a new tradition. The team finished in 5th place, 16 games under .500. 1983 didn't start any better. On April 29th the Cubs lost a home game to the Dodgers 4-3 when closer Lee Smith let in the winning run on a wild pitch in the 8th inning. Their record dropped to 5-14 and they were in last place. At this time the Cubs Wrigley Field clubhouse entrance was in the left field corner. After the game the team had to walk from the dugout and follow the left field line to the clubhouse. The 9,000 fans let the team have it on their way down the line.
This really ticked Elia off. When he got to his office, he let the fans have it. Boy did he let them have it! Here is a transcript of what Lee had to say about Chicago Cubs fans (and it's not for the prudish):
F*ck those f*ckin' fans who come out here and say they're Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you, rippin' every f*ckin' thing you do. I'll tell you one f*ckin' thing, I hope we get f*ckin' hotter than sh*t, just to stuff it up them 3,000 f*ckin' people that show up every f*ckin' day, because if they're the real Chicago f*ckin' fans, they can kiss my f*ckin' ass right downtown and PRINT IT.
They're really, really behind you around here...my f*ckin' ass. What the f*ck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my f*ckin' players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the f*ckin' nickel-dime people who turn up? The motherf*ckers don't even work. That's why they're out at the f*ckin' game. They oughta go out and get a f*ckin' job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a f*ckin' living. Eighty-five percent of the f*ckin' world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A f*ckin' playground for the cocks*ckers. Rip them motherf*ckers. Rip them f*ckin' cocks*ckers like the f*ckin' players. We got guys bustin' their f*ckin' ass, and them f*ckin' people boo. And that's the Cubs? My f*ckin' ass. They talk about the great f*ckin' support the players get around here. I haven't see it this f*ckin' year. Everybody associated with this organization have been winners their whole f*ckin' 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 motherf*ckin' 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 f*ckin' pros out there that wanna win. But you're stuck in a f*ckin' stigma of the f*ckin' Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals an all that cheap sh*t. It's unbelievable. It really is. It's a disheartening f*ckin' 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 f*ckin' games left.
What I'm tryin' to say is don't rip them f*ckin' guys out there. Rip me. If you wanna rip somebody, rip my f*ckin' ass. But don't rip them f*ckin' 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.Classic!! And that was the beginning of the end for Lee Elia as Cubs manager. He managed to make it to mid-August before his mouth got him into trouble again. The Atlanta Braves came to Chicago and a just-recalled rookie name Gerald Perry (who is now the Cubs hitting coach) went 2 for 3. After the game Elia admitted he had never heard of the guy, that the Cubs don't scout the International League. Two days after that game he was fired. His two year, Building A New Tradition record was an old tradition-like 127-158. It's been over 25 years, but if you mention Lee Elia to any Cub fan, you'll probably get a wry smile from them, and then a string of expletives!
Building A New Tradition, hah! My F***in' A**!!
Topps 1983, Elia seem to have a "ah, F*** Y**" look on his face.
If you want to hear Elia's uncut tirade, email me and I can send you an MP3 of it (but don't play it in from of the kiddies).
Elia is also cashing in on the 25th anniversary of his rant and raising some money for Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. Click here to see what you can get for $89.95.