CHICAGO -- I remember my first trip to Wrigley Field, if not the exact year.
I know it was May and I think it was probably 2002. My good friend is from Illinois and has family who live in the city. So we ended up staying in the wonderfully gentrified Wrigleyville neighborhood. It was then that Chicago became my favorite city.
Two things stood out from that trip. For starters, it was crazy cold. Partly my fault for thinking short sleeves were fine in mid-May. I remember standing outside our guest home as we were getting ready to head to the park and wondering if I should add additional layers. "Nah," I thought to myself. "It's the middle of May!"
That was my introduction to Chicago wind, and how it seeks out the underdressed and punishes you for your temerity. By the time we got inside Wrigley, I was ready to fill out one of those credit card apps in exchange for a free long-sleeved shirt (which I still have, BTW).
The second thing I remember is the Bleacher Bums. We sat among them and were treated like special guests at the most exclusive party in town. Of course, the Cubs were not very good on this day. I don't think it really mattered. They were playing my beloved Phillies and the road team won.
I just remember the fun atmosphere was unlike any I'd ever encountered -- before or since. I'm used to Phillies' games, which are not at all fun or welcoming when the home team is losing.
I remember the Bums having fun with Phillies' RF Bobby Abreu, who had just made minor relationship news with Miss Argentina. But there wasn't any animus in the razzing of Abreu. At one point, I think he even gave us a nod and a smile.
And that is the Cubs' fan reputation. Fun, loyal and not taking it too seriously. I guess you get that way after 108 years waiting for a return trip to the World Series.
That moment arrived Saturday night. I saw the perfect timing coming about a week ago: I had to be here for the LIMRA Annual Conference and if the Cubs-Dodgers National League Championship Series went six games, the home team might be playing the clincher my first night here.
So I decided to get an Airbnb place in Wrigleyville. And this is how I found myself at the intersection of Clark and Sheffield streets when the Cubs recorded the out that put them in the World Series for the first time since 1908.
I must say it was a little frightening to be among thousands of fans crushing forward in celebration from all directions. According to WGN, 300,000 fans poured into Wrigleyville. Yet there were only six arrests and no major issues.
These are the fans I first met nearly 15 years ago.
Congratulations Cub fans -- you deserve it.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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