Next year has arrived for Cub fans
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Harry Caray’s grave in a Chicago cemetery was surrounded Thursday by baskets of green apples.
Caray, the legendary Cubs’ broadcaster, once said, “Sure as God created green apples, the Cubs will win a World Series.”
Following Wednesday night’s game, Caray’s prophecy was remembered by loyal fans of the men in blue.
While none of the green apples came from local Cub fans, Cub pennants, blue “Ws” and Cub apparel was abundant on the streets of Mt. Pleasant following the team’s 8-7 victory over Cleveland in game seven of the World Series.
Next year has come, there is no more waiting and Cub fans are not letting their day in the limelight pass without a little (maybe a lot in some cases) celebration.
The skies turned sunny yesterday morning, matching the disposition of long-time Cub fans.
“We won!” exclaimed City Administrator Brent Schleisman. “I can’t believe I am saying that. I grew up in the Quad Cities and have been a life-long Cubs fan. It was just a fantastic game, kind of a roller-coaster, but only the Cubs can do it that way.”
Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee said things didn’t always look bright for the Cubs during the World Series, but all is well that ends well.
McNamee said Thursday afternoon he was still giddy about the game. “I was overwhelmed and happy as a lark,” he remarked. “When we were down three games to one, it didn’t look good, but after game six (which the Cubs won), I thought we could win it all.”
He said his spirits dampened when Cleveland’s Rajai Davis hit an eighth-inning, two-run homer to tie the game at 6-6, “I thought that could mess it up. However, we’re world champions for a year now.”
Although his beloved team won, McNamee said he couldn’t help feeling sorry for Cleveland Manager Terry Francona. “They have a good team,” he sized-up.
Wednesday night’s game was watched by 40-million viewers, the highest World Series game seven audience in 25 years. Some national pundits called game seven, prior to the first pitch, the biggest game in the history of baseball. Others have termed this year’s World Series as arguably the best ever because it matched two teams that have not won the Series in a combined 176 years.
It might be said that relief was a secondary feeling for Cubs’ faithful behind excitement as no longer will they have to be reminded that the Cubs have gone 108 years (or 39,465 days) between World Series titles, the longest championship drought in any professional sport.
The win had Regional Utility Service Systems’ Executive Director Bruce Hudson speechless, he said. “I thought they would do it but it sure was a roller-coaster of highs and lows.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he continued, “because we got to see something twice (National League and World Series titles) that some don’t see in a lifetime. We’re pretty fortunate.”
Hudson, too, felt a flow of contrasting emotions. “I was going crazy when they (Cleveland) tied it up. I had to walk away from the television because I couldn’t take it. I was trying to scream and catch my breath at the same time.”
Hudson commented that he thinks it was the Cubs’ year. “I have a strong suspicion it was destiny because how many teams come back from a three game to one deficit?
“It all worked out,” he continued. “It’s been an amazing ride the last month.”
Mt. Pleasant City Councilman Kent White remembers how he became a Cub fan. “I’ve been a Cub fan since my grandfather put a blue (Cubs) and red (Cardinals) hat in front of me and told me to pick one. I picked the blue hat and that was 64 years ago.”
White said not only was the World Series a great Series but a good one for baseball and for the country. “We have so many bad things happening (in the country) that we needed something like this.”
“I really got enthralled by Cubs’ baseball this summer,” White continued. “It made for a great summer.”
He saw the series as two evenly matched teams but felt going into the championship series that the Cubs’ starting pitching would be the difference. “Even when we were down 3-1, I thought we had a good shot because of our pitching. I also thought that since we had the best record in the majors this year, we were the obvious favorite.”
The world title will take Mt. Pleasant attorney Dave McCoid to Forest Home Cemetery where he will affix a world championship pennant on his father’s grave. It was McCoid’s father — whom he described as a rabid Cub fan — who passed the torch to his son some 70 years ago.
Reflecting on those 70 years, McCoid remembers a “lot of downs and a few ups.” Pondering deeper, he said he was beginning to wonder if he would see the Cubs ascend to the throne during his lifetime. “There were a lot of near misses, we never seemed to get there. It just seemed like something would always happen, we were the Cubs.”
One agonizing year, in particular, was 1984 when the Cubs dropped a 3-2 National League Championship Series to the San Diego Padres after winning the first two games. McCoid said he attended the first playoff game in Chicago.
This year, McCoid felt differently. “I just had this feeling that we were going to win the World Series. My confidence never wavered, even when we fell down three games to one to Cleveland.”
He said that confidence was especially strong Wednesday night. “I was fairly calm watching the game, I just thought we were going to win.”
Thursday, McCoid said he had “pure elation.”
Steve Engberg, a local insurance agent and a Mt. Pleasant City Council member, said he had mixed feelings following Wednesday night’s game. “While I was very happy, I thought about us being known as the ‘loveable losers.’ What happens now?”
His thoughts also turned to his father whom he described as the ultimate Cub fan. “He never got to see this and I also thought of so many other die-hard Cub fans who never got to experience this.”
Engberg and his son, Cameron, attended the first World Series game in Cleveland, an event he described as “a surreal moment because there were so many Cub fans there. It was a party atmosphere but the people were nice and cordial. We just wanted to soak it in and enjoy being there.”
Like McCoid, Engberg said he never had any doubt the Cubs would win the Series. “It has been a magical Cinderella year. I never had any question they wouldn’t win. They never got in a funk all year and never gave up during a game.”
All of the Cub fans have a sneaking suspicion that we won’t have to wait a century for another title.
“While I was watching the game last night, I thought this could happen a few more times (in the near future) because they are so young,” summed up Engberg.
White said he looks for next year to be as good or better and said he is already looking forward to the 2017 season.
With baseball in November, it will be a short break for the Cubs. Spring training begins in mid-February. As Ernie Banks would say, “Let’s play (and win) two (World Series titles).”