CHICAGO (AP) — Cubs fans woke up Thursday — if they slept at all the night
before — to the realization that next year is finally here.
Hours after the
Cubs won their first World Series in
108 years with a 8-7, 10-inning Game 7
victory in Cleveland, fans who swarmed the streets late Wednesday got
another treat as they welcomed home a caravan of team buses at Wrigley
Field. They erupted in cheers again when
first baseman Anthony Rizzo held up the
went on for hours and hours in the streets of
Wrigleyville , in the shadows of statues
of Cubs greats Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and legendary
announcer Harry Caray — none of whom ever experienced even getting to the
World Series in their long Hall-of-Fame careers.
party didn't come easy, of course: Fans of a certain age were certain the
eighth inning home run that tied the game for the Indians was going to
turn into another chapter in the Cubs' long story of heartbreak, snatching
defeat from the jaws of victory yet again. Instead, they found themselves
singing the Steve Goodman's "Go Cubs Go" long into the pre-dawn hours as
"Fly the W" flags flapped across the city.
"When they tied
it up it felt like it was over, they (the Cubs) had lost," said Mike
Dillon, a banking executive who drove to a tavern just outside Wrigley to
be among other fans. "I couldn't believe they won and even going home I
had to turn on the news channels to make sure it actually happened."
Fans swarmed to
the brick outer walls of Wrigley to write in chalk their names, their
congratulations and the names of relatives who died without ever having
seen the Cubs win it all.
"I get choked up
just thinking about it," said Lashawn Bennett, a 57-year-old resident of
suburban South Holland who was diagnosed with throat cancer last year and
was at Wrigley on Thursday morning. He borrowed a piece of chalk to write
his name on the wall. "It's just a piece of history I never thought I
would actually realize."
ends the emptiness and bitterness of years past when the Cubs found
spectacular and sometimes downright strange ways to add to the longest
championship drought in North American professional sports and spur yet
another round of "wait 'til next year" from its legions of fans.
long-time Cubs fan Bob Newhart, who grew up in the Chicago area,
celebrated by alluding to the curse allegedly placed on the team during
1945 World Series by the owner of the
Billy Goat Tavern after he was told his pet goat wasn't welcome at
"The billy goat
is dead!! As I've said, from the beginning, I'm getting too old for this!"
the 87-year-old actor
Every Cubs fan
knows those stories of defeat, starting with the 1969 team loaded with
Hall of Famers that amassed a 9 1/2-game lead in mid-August before they
started losing game after game in such numbers that the Miracle Mets not
only caught them but ended up winning the National League East by eight
Then came 1984.
After taking the first two games of the National League Championship
Series against the Padres at Wrigley, the Cubs needed just one win in San
Diego to advance to the World Series. They were swept in three games on
the West Coast.
There were other
playoff losses but none as painful as in 2003 when ifan Steve Bartman
deflected a ball that seemed destined for Moises Alou's glove with the
Cubs just five outs from reaching the World Series. Fans watched in horror
as the Cubs fell apart, and few who left the park that night believed the
team would win Game 7 the next night. They didn't.
But that was all
in the past as Cubs fans throughout Chicago and beyond celebrated a title
108 years in the making.
said if the Cubs win the World Series it would be like hell freezing
over," said Liz Wolfe, a 36-year-old physical therapist. "I'm still in
shock. This is the most exciting thing in my life."
Cubs fans said it
was somehow fitting that Game 7 against the Indians included a blown 5-1
lead and extra innings.
"Never in my life
have I ever felt every emotion possible, from joy to sadness, heartache,"
said Robert Holt, a fan since he was a boy.
who flew to Chicago just to be close to Wrigley and surround himself with
fellow Cubs fans , put it more
torture," he said, then added: "I would not have missed it for anything."
Nearby was Craig
Likhite, who drove to Chicago with his wife from nearby Evanston because
they wanted to see history made as close to the
102-year-old ballpark as possible.
"To finally see
this in my lifetime with my son here with us, it means everything," he
"This game with
all the ups and downs showed him exactly what it is to be a Cubs fan," the
50-year-old Likhite said. "My dad passed away this year. He would have