Chicago Cubs—World Series Champions!

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By Al Yellon

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

That’s historic, of course— by now you all know the details of the 108-year championship drought.

Then the team had a giant parade and rally through the North Side of Chicago, ending at Grant Park downtown. Some reports said five million people saw this event, and if so, it would rank as the seventh-largest gathering in human history (and the first that wasn’t a religious gathering or funeral).

There’s a World Series every year. And the team that wins has a big party afterwards. These weren’t any different for the Cubs.

What was different was the outpouring of love that surrounded Wrigley Field after the victory. From Thursday, November 3rd, all the way through the following weekend, thousands of people crowded around the Cubs’ 102-year-old ballpark, just wanting to be there, sharing this victory with fellow Cubs fans. At times the crowd seemed almost as big as it would be on a game day. And Chicago weather cooperated, with above-normal temperatures and unlimited sunshine, beautiful, nearly summerlike conditions for people to be outdoors. It was as if even Mother Nature was celebrating the Cubs’ win.

Most affecting of all were the messages left in chalk on the Wrigley Field outer walls. Started on a lark by a Cubs fan on the night they won the National League pennant, this morphed into tributes to the team and to loved ones who lived and died without ever seeing what we just witnessed. People left photographs of parents and grandparents who shared Cubs fandom with them, folks who have passed on who didn’t get a chance to see the Cubs win the World Series. In that way, this championship could be celebrated with everyone who’s ever been a Cubs fan, just as Anthony Rizzo said at the rally that this win was for everyone who’d ever worn the uniform.

The Cubs, to their credit, not only left all these messages on the walls, but sent security folks out to make sure everyone was doing it safely. It was a celebration of life, really, lives lived in love with the Chicago Cubs.

There have also been two signs on one of the rooftop clubs across from Wrigley for many years. One reads, “EAMUS CATULI”—loosely translated from Latin, “Let’s Go Cubs!” The second sign reads “AC” with several numbers following. “AC” is understood to mean, again in loose Latin, “Anno Cubs,” “Years of the Cubs.” The first two digits were understood to mean the number of years since the Cubs won a division title, the next two the number of years since a NL pennant, the last two (later three) the number of years since a World Series win.

Throughout the 2016 season, it read: AC0871108—eight years since the last NL Central crown, 71 years since the last league title, 108 since the last World Series.

And now it reads AC000000—proudly.

People sometimes say that baseball is just a game, just a diversion from real life. These tributes show baseball is much, much more than that.

Al Yellon is the founder and editor in chief of the popular SB Nation Cubs site Bleed Cubbie Blue. He is the author of A Season for the Ages: How the 2016 Chicago Cubs Brought a World Series Championship to the North Side.

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