Cubs Fans Celebrate Team's First World Series Appearance In 71 Years

Oct 24, 2016
Originally published on October 24, 2016 9:27 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On Saturday night, the Chicago Cubs made history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAN SHULMAN: Rizzo will play behind Ruiz at first as the first pitch is swung on. Grounded to short - to second, one - to first. Double play. They turn it. And the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series...

GREENE: That was play-by-play announcer Dan Shulman on ESPN Radio. Now, the Chicago Cubs have not played in a World Series in 71 years. They will be facing the Cleveland Indians, who are suffering through a 68-year championship drought. The World Series starts tomorrow night in Cleveland. In Chicago, Cubs fans have been celebrating the fact that they've gotten there. They haven't stopped since Saturday night. From Chicago, Here's NPR's David Schaper.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: They come on foot, by car, by bus, bike and L train. Thousands of fans of the Chicago Cubs, ecstatic from Saturday night's win over the Dodgers to put the team into the World Series, keep streaming toward Wrigley Field to take pictures of the ballpark, pose for selfies in front of the iconic marquee and to just soak up the winning atmosphere.

ZORAIBIN NINA: We're just excited. I mean, we haven't - it's been how many years since we've been going to the championships? We're just all excited.

SCHAPER: Twenty-year-old Zoraibin Nina sums up the feelings of many Chicagoans, as the Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945. They haven't won it since 1908. That's more than a century of one disappointing season after another.

STAN KALIMBA: Oh, dude, it hasn't really sunk in yet.

SCHAPER: Stan Kalimba is a lifelong Cubs fan.

KALIMBA: Like, every year - it's just heart-wrenching, you know, how they lost. And for them to finally win everything, it's - I'm speechless, basically.

SCHAPER: What makes it especially great for Kalimba is sharing this experience with this 13-year-old daughter, Andi.

ANDI KALIMBA: It's a huge deal. I've been waiting for this my whole life.

SCHAPER: The weight has been much longer for 58-year-old Stuart Bremer and his wife Barbara.

STUART BREMER: It's just starting to sink in, I think. You know, I sat and watched them celebrate last night.

BARBARA BREMER: Had tears in your eyes.

S. BREMER: (Crying).

B. BREMER: He's got tears in his eyes now.

SCHAPER: Bremer had sworn off the Cubs, threw out all of his Cubs gear - shirts, jerseys, everything. The Cubs fell apart in the 2003 playoffs, after being just five outs from going to the World Series. Now he's back and replacing all that stuff. But Bremer says just getting to the World Series isn't enough.

S. BREMER: This is a wonderful season, no matter what happens in the World Series. But they need to take the final step to finally end all the talk.

SCHAPER: Talk about the team always choking, about jinxes, about being cursed. And about that angst that Cubs fans always seem to get, as though they're just waiting for their team to disappoint them again. Husband and wife Scott and Chris Devlin, who both grew up near Wrigley Field, say this year's team doesn't seem to feel any of that tension.

CHRIS DEVLIN: Well, it's a different team, I think.

SCOTT DEVLIN: Well, it's just, you know, the mix of youth and veterans. And they're...

C. DEVLIN: Yeah.

S. DEVLIN: ...They all seem to, like, have fun and, you know, enjoying themselves. They all seem like nice guys.

C. DEVLIN: The anxiety isn't there like it was.

SCHAPER: But the Devlins are keenly aware that the Cleveland Indians are hungry for a championship too, to end their 68-year-long drought. So within the week, fans of one of these teams could be filled with heartache and disappointment once again. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.