Rizzo caught the final out and I jumped up with a shout and my husband and I held each other tight. We could feel each other’s blood pressure finally drop as the Chicago Cubs rushed the field after their first World Series win in 108 years. No more Billy Goat, no more Bartman, no more lifelong and generation-wide bondage to loss. Tears filled our eyes with fans across the world as it all washed over us. This was not a win just for us, but for parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so many generations of Cubs fans who never lost hope.
As we all roll out of bed the next morning and reach for the coffee pot, still grinning ear to ear, it’s hard not to think about how life is different and how generations of Cubs fans to come will be forever changed. Will we separate fans before and after World Series win? Will my children really know what it’s like to be a Cubs fan if they don’t know them as the lovable losers? Silly questions to some, but Cubs fans know they are real questions that only time will answer. The Cubs aren’t just a baseball team– they are a culture. They are a way of life. So how will life change for the Cubs fan?
I have no doubt that the first time my Cubs fall short and fail to win I will still utter the words “There’s always next year,” because that has been my genuine plea my whole life along with generations before me. The year I was born the Cubs had not won a National League Championship in forty-seven years and had not had a World Series win in eighty-four. The next generation of Cubs fans will not know that feeling and hopefully many more generations after them will not know it either.
Thousands of better Cubs fans than I could explain it with more gusto, but we did not watch our Cubs to see a win, we watched them for the love of baseball. While every true Cubs fan has hope every year that “This will be our year,” they’re not really disappointed when it doesn’t pan out. This year our light shown brighter and our fists clutched tighter as we watched playoff game after playoff game. Somehow our Cubbies always pulled through and we continued to hum “Go Cubs Go.”
When the Cubs won it all in the wee hours of the morning November 3, 2016 you could see the unadulterated joy and relief on the face of every Cubs fan the camera crew panned over. Bill Murray fell backward and cried as the embodiment of every Cubs fan. Signs reading “It’s Gonna Happen,” were marked out in celebration to read “It Did Happen!” If you look a little closer as they jumped back to camera crews in Chicago at the thousands of people in Wrigleyville you found signs that I think ring even more true for Cubs fans across the country and around the world.
“This one’s for you Grandpa!” and “I hope you’re watching Grandma” were held high above heads among the tears, beers, and cheers. Being a Cubs fan is a tradition that connects generations and brings fond memories of learning how to be a baseball fan for so many people. They cry not only out of relief but gratitude for loved ones gone and maybe a bit of melancholia that they weren’t around to see their favorite team win.
Cubs fans will forever be changed by this 2016 World Series Championship, but some parts of our spirit and generations after us cannot be shaken. Being a Cubs fan is about tradition and about hope. Dan Planko put it best when he said this year “Optimism is written into the DNA of every Cubs fan.” Regardless of how many games the Cubs win in a year, we will always feel like the underdogs. We will wait with patient optimism that our Cubs can do it and they will do it for us. We will file into the Friendly Confines not to see the win but to see the game. Every day is a “beautiful day for baseball,” win or lose.
As you see your Cubs fan friends share pictures from their first game at Wrigley and share every Ernie Banks and Harry Caray quote they can find, know that this was more than a baseball game and more than a baseball team. This was the culmination of generations of fans who never lost faith or hope in their Cubbies. For today and years to come we can say with disbelief and pride, “As sure as God made green apples,” our Cubs won the World Series.