The Chicago Cubs celebrate after winning 8-7 against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on Nov. 2, 2016 in ClevelandEzra Shaw—Getty Images

The moment I stepped off my Southwest Airlines plane at Midway Airport, I could feel the electricity in the air. It was Wednesday, November 2, 2016. Millions of Cubs fans, including me, were holding our collective breaths as we waited for the seventh game of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. We were still nonplussed at finding ourselves in this sweet yet precarious position, thanks to the guiding hand of Coach Joe Maddon (who coincidentally coached the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series). The Cubs had last won the World Series in 1908.

The night game was being played in Cleveland, so I had a few hours to do some “rabbit’s foot” activities before tuning in. Just in case the Cubs lost, I bought a Cubs t-shirt bragging about their National League win. I then headed to the graves of four of the biggest Cubs fans in my family: my parents and paternal grandparents. I spoke to them about the potential victory and asked them to guide the players and coaches. My dad was an original Die-Hard Cubs fan back in1929. Before becoming a cartoonist, my dad wanted to be the second baseman of the Chicago Cubs.

Next was dinner with my cousin, Dave, at Culver’s. We were surprised to find Culver’s nearly empty and then realized that everyone was home getting ready to watch the game! We posed with our matching Cubs shirts.

I excitedly drove to my sister’s home, where she and her husband were already watching the start of the game. We watched the game on her big-screen TV with the lights off as each team fought to outscore the other one. The 7-7 score in extra innings caused enough anxiety, and then it started to rain! It rained so hard that the game was stopped. Since we did not know if or when the game would start up again, my brother-in-law turned off the TV and said, “Let’s all call it a night.” He probably did not want to watch the Cubs lose after the game resumed.

It was already late, and my sister and her husband had to work the next morning, so I went to the guest bedroom and watched the game on my iPad. I fell asleep…and two hours later I woke up to the sounds of horns honking on my iPad as Chicagoans all over the city and suburbs were celebrating the Cubs’ VICTORY! The final score was 8-7. I could not believe it. My sister and her husband were sound asleep, so I watched the coverage of fans mobbing Wrigley Field by the thousands.

Then, I started to cry, both with joy that the Cubs won and also with sadness that my dad, his brother and our departed family members were not alive to witness this miracle.

When the team buses returned to Wrigley Field, orderly chaos and screaming ensued as even more fans swarmed the area. Other fans wrote tributes and names of departed family members on Wrigley Field’s walls.

My next stop was Woodfield Mall, just to walk around. This mall was my go-to mall when I was in college, so it was fun to check it out. There was a sense of wonder and elation among all of the customers, and the huge screens in the center of the mall screamed out the Cubs victory!

More than anything, I wanted to buy a World Series t-shirt. Of course, they had been manufactured in advance for both teams, but fans wanted those t-shirts before they could be sorted in stores. I found that t-shirts were being sold at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store near the Woodfield Mall in suburban Schaumburg. People were already lining up in the store parking lot to buy those shirts, so I quickly ate a sandwich at Chick-fil-A nearby and parked my car in the almost full parking lot.

I joined excited fans in line as we snaked around the building and into the store. Shirts were in boxes by size, so we quickly picked out our shirts and paid for them at a make-shift checkout table. I proudly carried my shirt out to the parking lot…and then spent half an hour trying to find my rental car! I was operating on fumes and started to panic. Luckily, the license plate number was on the keys, so that helped. I exhaled a sigh of relief when I finally found it.

In a dream state, I stopped by my childhood home to see Paulette, our house’s current owner. I could hardly concentrate on our conversation with so little sleep and so much excitement. I watched more Cubs games in that house than in any other location, so I asked her to take my photo in front of the foyer closet door wearing my Cubs t-shirt. She happily obliged.

I was floating on air as I attended the Oakton College Scholarship Banquet with my family. I could not stop smiling or saying, “How about those Cubs?” to everyone I saw.

I contacted three junior high school friends. We already planned to have lunch on Friday, November 4, at Randhurst, my favorite mall in high school. We learned that the Cubs parade from Wrigley Field through downtown Chicago would be broadcast during the time we planned to meet. What an unreal lunch that was: watching our victorious Cubs parading through our hometown with five million fans celebrating with them.

The rest of my Chicagoland visit was an out-of-body experience. On Sunday night, I had dinner with my cousin Craig, who was two years younger and an avid Cubs fan from birth. In the mid-1960’s, Craig and I went with our grandmother to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs. Maybe 5,000 people were in the stands. I got hit in the head with a foul ball hit by lefty Don Kessinger. Craig tried to catch it, but it bounced into the row behind us, where another fan kept the ball. Craig and I shared our elation about the Cubs victory and speculated about the future of the team. Would players defect to other teams? Would Joe Maddon remain the coach?

I took a spontaneous drive to Wrigley Field before my afternoon flight the next day. It was totally impractical and out of the way. I drove two hours through Monday-morning rush-hour traffic from Chicago’s western suburbs to Wrigleyville so I could see Wrigley Field for two minutes. During those two minutes, I saw countless notes and photos attached to the walls, and I thanked God that the Cubs won the World Series during my lifetime. Reality set in after that: I had to drive back to Midway Airport by traveling through the heart of downtown Chicago! I caught my flight and got off my Southwest Airlines plane in Tampa, walking on a cloud.

Epilogue: the excitement of the Cubs victory continued when my junior high friends and I attended a Cubs game six months later. We could not believe it when we posed next to the Commissioner’s Trophy at Wrigley Field.

Diane Henrikson Russell joined OLLI in 2014. She has taken over 70 OLLI courses on leadership, radio, life story writing, Tai Chi, healthy aging, literature, science, politics, sociology, and humanities. Diane volunteers as a proofreader for the OLLI catalog and for OLLI Connects. Diane was Co-chair of the Volunteer Management Committee from 2019 through early 2023.

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2 Replies to “CUBS WIN!!! CUBS WIN!!!”

  1. Even “non-Cubbies” were excited when this happened! Great portrayal of how a Real Cubbie experienced it.

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