Albanian Americans in Cubs History

lee-eliaLee Constantine Elia is an Albanian-American former professional baseball player and manager in Major League Baseball. Elia was born on July 16, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Constantine D. and Florence C. (Sula) Elia. His father, Connie Elia, was born in Albania and emigrated to the United States in 1920. He worked as a supervisor for a food service for 30 years. Elia also grew up with a younger sister, Diane. Elia graduated from Olney High School in Philadelphia and the University of Delaware. He was a manager of the Chicago Cubs (from 1982 to 1983) and the Philadelphia Phillies (from 1987 to 1988). In 2010 he was hired by the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren. He is known for his infamous obscenity-filled locker-room tirade against Cub fans in 1983.

After a loss to the Dodgers, Cubs manager Lee Elia met with reporters. After one said: “Tough way to lose a game, huh?” Elia began his infamous diatribe, in particular berating fans, suggesting they were unemployed losers. “Eighty-five percent of the (bleeping) world is working; the other 15 come out here,” he said. The rant lasted nearly three minutes and included approximately 61 bleep-worthy words.

On April 29, 1983, Elia was in his second and last season directing the Cubs, that Smitty uncorked a wild pitch, also in the ninth, that lifted the Dodgers to a 4-3 triumph. As Elia trudged down the left-field line to the clubhouse, a dozen or so alleged Cub fans doused Keith Moreland with stale beer and hurled verbal abuse at Larry Bowa. Within minutes, Elia was in his small clubhouse office and in the beginning of what was expected to be a routine postgame press conference. But Elia was unable to contain his rage and erupted with five uninterrupted minutes of blasphemy, a soliloquy of heroic proportions that was to become the infamous “Elia tape.“ Dozens of copies were made, a collector`s item heard in press boxes and dugouts throughout the country.“It sounded like I was cursing the entire Cub kingdom,“ Elia explained Monday. “But that`s not true. I was only talking about those fans who were harassing Moreland and Bowa.“

Elia was subsequently dumped by General Manager Dallas Green, and life continued at Wrigley Field. Lee Elia begat Charlie Fox who begat Jim Frey who begat Gene Michael. Whatever, it always seemed to me that Elia, driven out of a town on a rail, should have been given some credit for helping the Cubs turn the corner, sending them off in the right direction that resulted in their 1984 success when they won the National League East. (Chicago Tribune 1987)

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