On April 29, 1983, it looked as though the Chicago Cubs were settling into another abysmal season of baseball. The team had started the season 5-14 and on that day they were playing a tough game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A 1-1 pitchers duel going into the 9th inning, the Cubs ended up losing the game 2-1 after the Dodgers scored on a wild pitch thrown by Cubs closer Lee Smith in the top of the 9th.
Then on the long walk down the field to the clubhouse, a heckler among the 9,319 fans began riding Cubs outfielder Keith Moreland. Moreland went into the stands after him. At about the same time, another heckler induced shortstop Larry Bowa into a fight in the stands. By the time he got to his tiny office to face the media, Cubs manager Lee Elia was in no mood to be tested. His team had lost a close game, his players were fighting with their fans, it was a cold day and his team started 5-15.
After being irritated by the first few questions, Elia launched into an expletive-laden rant against Cubs fans and the people of Chicago:
Fuck those fuckin' fans who come out here and say they're Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you rippin' every fuckin' thing you do. I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day. Because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT!
They're really, really behind you around here... MY FUCKING ASS! What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin' players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin' nickel-dime people that show up? The motherfuckers don't even work. That's why they're out at the fuckin' game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin' job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a fuckin' living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin' world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin' playground for the cocksuckers. Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin' cocksuckers like the fuckin' players. We got guys bustin' their fuckin' ass, and them fuckin' people boo. And that's the Cubs? My fuckin’ ass! They talk about the great fuckin’ support that the players get around here. I haven't seen it this fuckin' year.
The name of the game is hit the ball, catch the ball, and get the fuckin’ job done. Right now we have more losses than we have wins The fuckin’ changes that have happened in the Cub organization are multifold. Alright, they don't show because we're 5 and 14... and unfortunately, that's the criteria of them dumb 15 motherfuckin' percent that come out to day baseball. The other 85 percent are earning a living. I tell you, it'll take more than a 5-13 or 5-14 to destroy the makeup of this club. I guarantee you that. There's some fuckin' pros out there that wanna fuckin’ play this game. But you're stuck in a fuckin' stigma of the fuckin' Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals and all that cheap shit. It's unbelievable. It really is. It's a disheartening fuckin' situation that we're in right now. All these mutherfuckin’ editorials about Cey and fuckin aaahh…the Phillie-itis and all that shit, it’s sickening. It’s unbelievable, it really is. It’s a disheartening fucking situation we’re in right now. 5 and 14 doesn't negate all that work. We got 143 fuckin' games left.
What I'm tryin' to say is don't rip them fuckin' guys out there. Rip me. If you wanna rip somebody, rip my fuckin' ass. But don't rip them fuckin' guys 'cause they're givin' everything they can give. And once we hit that fuckin groove, it’ll flow. And it will flow, the talent’s there. I don’t know how to make it any clearer to you. I’m frustrated, I’ll guarantee you I’m frustrated. It’d be different if I walked into this room every day at 8:30 and saw a bunch of guys that didn’t give a shit. They give a shit, it’s a tough National League East. It’s a tough National League, period.
He said “fuck” 43 times in a span of three minutes.
Longtime Chicago radio fixture Les Grobstein was the only reporter in the room had his tape recorder running at the time, and quickly rushed out to see if he could get the rant on the air. Some editing was needed first.
The fans reacted in anger as well as in jest. They came out to the park with buttons saying, "I have a job; I'm a Cubs fan" and "Kiss my Elia."
But the tirade seemed to light a fire under the Cubs players. They went on to win eight straight games and by the All-Star game they were in second place, just 2 ½ games out of first. But it all fell apart in late August and Elia was fired when the Cubs dropped out of contention.
Lee Elia is now a hitting coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, his tirade is still considered one of the great moments in Chicago sports history.
Download the tirade at http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze2bh46/LeeEliaTirade.mp3