By Philip Revzin
CHICAGO, 8 NOVEMBER 2016 I am a 64-year-old man wearing a
tee-shirt that says "Just One Before I Die," under a Chicago Cubs jersey
bearing the name and number 10 of Ron Santo, a Hall of Fame third baseman
who died in 2010. His successor, Kris Bryant, has just fielded a routine
grounder and thrown the batter out at first, and I am sobbing
The crowd on Clark Street, stretching for blocks outside Wrigley Field,
has just seen the sign on the giant red Cubs marquee turn from an 8-7
scoreboard to the words "Cubs Win!" and later to "World Series Champions."
After an audible gasp, tens of thousands of people shout at once and begin
jumping up and down and hugging their neighbors, often strangers. The last
time this public display of joy happened in Chicago was in 2008 when
250,000 people in Grant Park learned from Wolf Blitzer on a giant TV
screen that Barack Obama had been elected president. The last time the
Cubs won the Series was 1908, pre-Wrigley (it opened in 1913) so obviously
Outside Murphys Bleachers on Waveland, where Im standing, thousands
more are hugging and bouncing up and down. Mary and Linda from Carbondale
give me hugs. José and Pete from down the block give me high fives.
Chicago Police Officers Ramirez and Peterson give me huge smiles and high
fives. Inside, a Joe Maddon impersonator in a Cubs uniform is leading the
crowd in Go Cubs Go, the anthem thats played after every win.
The police blocking Waveland and Sheffield seem to sing the most heartily;
theyve been here all day. The crowd, though massive and massively
inebriated for the most part, is mainly peaceful from what I can see.
Im still sobbing with joy, like many of my generation, thinking of
family members who yearned for a Cubs victory but never saw it, and for
the players who were my childhood idols such as Ernie Banks and Mr.
Santo who didnt see it either. I shed a tear, too, for Steve Goodman,
who wrote Go Cubs Go and died in 1984, just before the
I know in my head its just a game, just entertainment, just a
diversion, but seeing this crowd, living this season, and living and dying
with each pitch in a roller-coaster of a World Series that comes down to
the last half of the 10th inning of the seventh game, I feel in my heart
that its actually about passion, humanity, sharing, and life. Many,
including me, have written that being a Cubs fan prepares one well for the
vicissitudes and occasional unfairness of life, steeling you for
inevitable disappointment and despair, engendering a sort of "cautious
pessimism" that pervades all human interaction. Its a feeling that seems
to engulf the whole city, which has intractable problems of crime,
poverty, and neglect existing next to vast reserves of wealth and beauty.
There are triumphs, but somehow they pale in front of failure.
For the past week or so, Chicago has seemed to bathe in a sea of white
and blue "W" flags all over the city. (The Cubs raise one on a flagpole at
Wrigley Field after each win, to alert the neighborhood.) Theres one
flying from the entrance to the John Hancock building. There are W flags
flying from both the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, on Michigan
Avenue, the former and present homes of two former team owners. Further up
the Magnificent Mile, an Under Armour store features a massive W flag in
the window and a giant "This Is Next Year" blue Cubbies tee-shirt on
a giant mannequin. Theres a flag flying from a dangling pterodactyl
fossil in the Field Museum of Natural History. Theres one above the
entrance to the Art Institute and giant blue Cubs caps on the heads of the
lions guarding the entrance stairs. By the end of the Series there are 11
huge W flags, one for each post-season win, on the Merchandise Mart, once
the biggest office building in the world.
Theres an out of service CTA bus with the words "Go Cubbies" on the
electric sign on the front where the destination usually goes. There are
mechanical street-sweepers decked out in Cubs pinstripes with huge W flags
on their sides. Theres an illuminated Cubs logo that morphs into a W flag
right at the center of the huge new ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and the
massive wheel itself at times is lit in the red, white, and blue logo.
There are blue Cubs caps everywhere, including the one firmly planted on
my head as I go to a business meeting and run some errands. I get a letter
from my lawyer enclosing the deed to our condo: the cover note is a piece
of white legal stationery with a big blue magic-marker W on it.
Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony, many of its member wearing Cubs
tee-shirts, record and post a lyrical version of Take Me Out to the
Ballgame, showing their musical support. Maestro Muti sported a Cubs
jersey with MUTI 16 on the back, and jumped around endearingly during the
"One, Two, Three Strikes Youre Out" part. Meanwhile, the Friday of the
first series game at Wrigley, five male singers from the Lyric Opera
turned up at Murphys to belt out an a capella version of Go Cubs
The Cubs have allowed anybody who wants to to post messages in blue
chalk up on the brick walls along Sheffield and Waveland. I walk by near
the end of the playoffs and see a lot of "Go Cubs!" and "Fly the W!" and
"This is the Year!" and shout-outs to long-passed uncles and grandfathers,
as well as greetings from New York, California, and Idaho, among others.
The Cubs say theyll leave them up for a week or so before power-washing
them off as they continue renovations. Its a nice thing, empowering
Hope seems to pervade the crowd in front of Murphys Wednesday night.
As I hug strangers, weep uncontrollably wearing my Cubbie blue, and jump
up and down, I am truly happy, and hopeful that somehow this spirit can
infuse the rest of our lives.
Editor's note: Philip Revzin is the author of
Just One Before I Die: A Cubs Fans Chronicle of a Championship
Season, currently available in a Kindle edition on Amazon.com.
Philip Revzin is an award winning journalist and former
editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. Previously, he was a long-time
reporter, editor and publisher for The Wall Street Journal Europe in
London, Paris and Brussels. Later, Mr. Revzin was named publisher and
editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the publisher for The Wall
Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong. He last wrote on the book Dark
Money for Culturekiosque.