SHIPSHEWANA — So much has happened since Doris Davis went to her first Chicago Cubs game as a young girl in 1926.
Since that day when Niles and Ida Davis loaded the family into the car and made the drive from the farm just outside Shipshewana to Wrigley Field, the Cubs have had 44 different men serve as manager.
During that span, the Cubs have been to the World Series five times (1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, 1945) and the playoffs on six other occasions (1984, 1989, 2003, 2007, 2008). The Cubs also went to the World Series in 1918.
A dozen postseasons during the lifetime of a person born in the summer of 1915 and no championships to show for it.
But Davis doesn’t let it get her down. She chooses to see the silver lining when thinking about “my boys.”
“I love ‘em in spite of themselves,” says Davis, now 98 and residing in Shipshewana 36 years after retiring as a professor of food and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “I don’t suffer. I always see good things. I don’t care as much about the final score as I do watching them.”
Davis comes by her love of the Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc., in a natural way.
“My dad was a Cubs fan,” says Davis, who played baseball at home and softball in high school and college. “I’d listen to the games on the radio (and keep score on an envelope) and tell him what happened (when he came in from farming).”
The next day, the Chicago Herald-Examiner would arrive at the Davis farm with a play-by-play account of a game Davis had already recited to her father.
Niles and Ida spent part of their honeymoon at a game in Chicago. The whole Davis clan (which grew to include three boys and two girls), became Cubs followers.
“I guess I became the most rabid,” says Davis. But when she was asked to join the Diehard Cubs Fan Club, she declined.
“I’m not a diehard,” says Davis. ”I’m a ‘never die Cubs fan. That’s what I tell them.”
While she couldn’t begin to tell the number of games she’s seen in-person, Davis has continued to be a Wrigley Field regular over the decades.
“There’s an atmosphere that’s fun,” says Davis of the ballpark experience.
Many times, she had several of her 16 nieces and nephews in tow.
“You never saw better behaved kids,” says Davis, who never married. “If they didn’t behave, they would get to go again.”
Many a kid has been entertained at the Davis house by seeing how many Cubs items they can find.
When Davis retired after 25 years at Stevens Point, she began going to spring training in Mesa, Ariz., and last made the trek in 2010. It was on one of those early spring trips that she found her all-time favorite Cub — catcher Jody Davis (no relation).
“I just liked the way he looked and acted,” says Davis. “It took about two days to find out who he was. (Jody) always had a smile on his face.”
Davis became so well-known and liked around the Cubs spring complex that she would baby-sit for the players, never asking for a dime.
“It was such an honor,” says Davis.
Her parents had met as teachers in South Dakota before bringing the family to LaGrange County and Davis went on to spend her life in education. She graduated from Shipshewana High School in 1931, went on to Indiana University, earned a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, attended summer classes at several other colleges and was a thesis away from getting a doctorate degree.
“I enjoyed going to school,” says Davis.
A descendent of Shipshewana founders Hezekiah Davis and Abraham Summy, she moved back to her hometown after her retirement.
After Davis retired, she would be at the “Friendly Confines” four or five times a week, taking a car to Elkhart and then the train to and from Chicago. When the conductor was asked by passengers on how to get to the ballpark, they were told to follow Davis.
She certainly knew the way.
“I used to say I’d be better off if I got an apartment up there,” says Davis, who still attends four or five games a year - often catching a bus a half block from her home that takes fans straight to the park. She always makes sure visit her paver brick, located near the Ernie Banks statue.
DORIS V. DAVIS
FIRST GAME 1926
CUB FAN FOREVER