If Todd Ricketts is curious — and I doubt he is, but let’s pretend — about how history might someday view him, he can get a hint by looking at the reputation of a previous Cubs co-owner, Charles Weeghman.
“The Quick Lunch King” made a fortune selling fast eats to harried downtown workers and bought the Cubs in 1916 when they played on the West Side. He moved the team to its current location at the corner of Clark and Addison. He didn’t own it long: The economy went bad and he brought in partners, including William Wrigley.
I wish I could say Weeghman is remembered for that or for starting the practice of allowing fans to keep baseballs batted into the stands rather than having ushers retrieve them.
But what really radiates across the years about Weeghman is that he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. On Aug. 16, 1921, — 100 years ago Monday — the largest rally of the Klan ever on Illinois soil took place on Weeghman’s Lake Zurich farm.
How does that balance with Todd Ricketts — not to be confused with his brother, Cubs Chairman Tom, more circumspect about his politics — being the finance chairman of the Trump Victory Committee? Plus various fundraisers held for the toxic fraud, white supremacist and fomenter of rebellion against the United States. Suppose that depends whether we are at the end of our nation’s shredding of its democratic values and traditions or only the beginning. The Klan also tried to keep minorities from voting, but Trumpers are more methodical about it.
In Ricketts’ defense — I try to be fair — his mom, Marlene, gave $3 million to an anti-Trump campaign. Plus there is an element of prejudice in every human heart. Evil is attractive — the devil is a gentleman, remember — and it draws in the most unexpected people.
There is a moment in the Klan rally on Weeghman’s farm a century ago that deserves to be shared, even savored.
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