This is the story of the day I attended the Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Victory Parade,
Friday, November 4, 2016
The temperature in HELL was getting lower by the day.
Hello next year!
These sentences and phrases were all the buzz that was going on in my head and out of the mouths of millions of Cubs fans and even Cubs haters all of over the world. The Chicago Cubs, a Major League Baseball team was embarking on their quest to win it all. My favorite baseball team since I was 14 years old won the world series for the first time in 108 years. It was a day I had only hoped would happen someday before I died. Now at the age of 62 the day I had dreamed of, prayed for, lived for and believed in, finally happened.
I really did go into the World Series thinking that the Cubs would win. I realize, I said that every year, even when they were going to be dead last in the standings. I was the one firmly placing my tongue in my cheek and cheering for the Cubs to be in the World Series! This year, I also knew the Cubs had a good team. No, make that a GREAT team and they had a real shot at winning this. Alas, I also knew they were the Cubs, and they had let me down so many times since 1968 when I came on board. Intellectually I knew that could happen again, but in my heart-of-hearts I was already celebrating the victory!
All of my students and teaching colleagues knew I was nervous, yet excited. Some were rooting for me even though they were life-long Cardinal fans. I had even been prepping my classes for the possibility that when, not if, the Cubs would win that I was going to be unavailable for a day or so.
The Cubs were actually down three games to one to the Cleveland Indians when I told my classes that if they would join me in praying that the Cubs would win, and they came back to take the series that I would give them the day off and we would have a Pizza party upon my return.
And then it happened! The Chicago Cubs won the world series at 11:42 p.m. Central Standard Time on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Kris Bryant took a weakly hit grounder to him at grassy part of third base. He slipped on the wet field, but still managed to snag the ball and throw it to a very prepared and waiting Anthony Rizzo for the final out, making the Chicago Cubs the World Champions of Baseball. I yelled, I cheered, I laid on the floor rolling around and repeating, “the Cubs are the World Series Champions, the Cubs are the World Series Champions, the Cubs are the World Series Champions!” I even went to the bedroom and woke up my wife to tell her! I think she had already heard me from the Living Room.
I wasn’t able to secure tickets to any of the games, but I was determined to attend the victory parade, assuming that it was going to be on Saturday.
It wasn’t until the next day that I saw that the victory parade was actually going to be on Friday, November 4th. Oh No, I thought! I needed it to be Saturday so I could fly up there and be back without missing any of my classes. I knew that I had to be there, and If I was going to do so I had to clear it with my department chairman, A RED-BIRDED CARDINAL FAN!
When I went to his office to ask him for the day-off I decide to go with the, “I’m just here to inform you that I won’t be here tomorrow,” tactic and see how that played out, before I actually asked him for the day off. “I’m not surprised, he said, I have been expecting this conversation since last night!” “Go! Have fun! Congratulations!” There are only a handful of Cardinal fans that I actually like, but Dr. Miller is one of them.
Just the knowledge and realization that I was going to be at the victory parade in Chicago was almost as good as being there. I spent that evening scouring over the Internet looking for flights. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap but I was all in. My wife never questioned if this was going to cost too much. I knew she would think it was, but I also knew, that SHE KNEW, she was not going to keep me from going. I secured my ticket through Delta Airlines to depart from the Little Rock airport early the next morning at around 6:30 with a stop in Atlanta to change planes and head on up to Chicago.
My Day Started Early
I arose and left home around 5:00 a.m. and got to the airport in about 45-50 minutes. As I walked through the main doors of the airport arrived at the gate to check-in there was Katie-Delta Bravo, (my favorite Delta agent). She flashed that big smile and said, “I was wondering when you were going to get here!”
I was dressed in all of my Cubs Regalia, jersey, hat, even sun glasses, there was a scattering of people in LIT that noticed my Cubs fine dress and gave me a high-five or a verbal, “Go Cubs!” I always turned and shouted, “I’m going to the victory parade!” Every time I shouted those words it was met with a chorus of cheers, and I gotta admit I think there was a little moisture leaking from my eyes!
Maybe the best part of the flight was when I transferred to my connecting flight to Chicago. When I stepped through the door of the Delta Airbus in Atlanta to the final flight to Chicago, the party really seemed to get started. EVERYBODY on the flight was dressed like I was! I stepped through First Class and stood at the front of the cheap seats and saw a sea of Cubs fans! I raised both arms in a victory symbol and shouted, “HOW ‘BOUT THOSE WORLD CHAMPION CUBS?” I then high-fived everybody on an aisle seat until I got to my seat.
Upon arriving to Midway Airport in Chicago, I took the Orange Line to the Loop. I'm from Chicago lived there 24 years. I knew the subway and bus lines like the back of my hand. Midway Airport was on the Southside of town, deep in White Sox territory. Still, there was no hassle getting from the gate to the “L,” the Chicago subway and elevated transportation system.
I walked up and down South Michigan Ave just taking in the early November Chicago air. It was a bit nippy, but my heart was pumping so hard I didn’t even need a coat. As I looked up and down the major downtown Chicago Streets, it was a sea of BLUE! The city of Chicago even had the Chicago River dyed Cubbie Blue for the occasion! The victory parade was supposed to start at Wrigley Field and make its way down to where I had staked out a spot. I was there about two hours early, and wasn’t sure of the exact route. As I asked others around me if they knew the route, they kept indicating that I needed to move a few blocks north. So, I moved, and as I did, I was just soaking in with the celebration of an ever-increasing crowd. And, WOW was it growing!
I stopped at the Tribune Tower to buy Special Edition paper of the previous day’s edition! I already acquired the edition of the day when they secured the National League Pennant. Now with this edition I had a collectors item. Well, the Tribune Company was well aware of what this edition was and they had an entire delivery truck full of pallets stacked high and selling them off the back of the truck. $2 each. I bought three copies. One for me, and one for each of my sons. I also bought T-shirts for me and my entire family. I had a hard time stuffing them all into my back-pack, but I was determined that I was going to get them home, even if I had to by another bag to do so.
Of course, Cubs paraphernalia, souvenirs, and T-shirts were in abundance. I quickly counted and guess on sizes and bought a T-Shirt for my entire family, (me, Donna, Matthew, Aaron and their wives and children – 10 of us. I also bought an extra T-Shirt that I wanted to drop at the airport for my favorite Delta Gate Agent, Katie-Delta-Bravo. I try to gift her when I fly Delta because of so much help she gives me when I travel. I tried to find eleven t-shirts of the same color and design so we could have my annual family photo made for the annual Christmas greeting digital card.
The actual Victory Parade was so crowded that I couldn’t see anything. It was later estimated that the seventh largest gathering of human beings in the history of the world. How many people showed up for the Cubs Victory Parade? – City officials estimated that approximately 5 million people were in attendance! The route came from Wrigley Field down to Michigan avenue and on to a sprawling Grant Park. The city’s tally included everyone who lined the route and the rally throngs.
One of those five million fans was me! I attended the victory parade! Unfortunately, I am short in stature, and as much as I darted and moved, I could see almost nothing but other fans. I wanted the experience of being there, but truth be told, I missed actually seeing much of the historic event.
I decided to move on to Wrigley Field. I took the Red Line to so I could get photos of the historic marquee of the sign saying World Champion Chicago Cubs! I also wanted to buy lunch - a HOT-DOG from the local ballpark eatery. I also wanted to visit the Cubs Gift and Souvenir stores looking for World Champion stuff.
I found a baby ONSIE and knew right away that I had to get this for Addi Baker. Addi Baker was the newborn daughter of one of my dear friends back at Harding. Adam Baker was from North-Central Illinois and grew up a Cubs fan. There weren’t very many of us in Searcy, Arkansas so when we met a year or so earlier, we bonded pretty quickly. Adam had a beautiful wife and three of the most handsome and sweetest boys – but no daughter – until now. His daughter was born on the very day that the Cubs won the World Series. I don’t know if it took a lot of convincing but as the Cubs made the last out Adam picked up his now ELEVEN HOUR old daughter and held her up in front of the TV in his wife’s hospital room and had a photo made. He named her ADDI, either after Addison Street that bordered Wrigley Field, or Addison Russell the starting all-star shortstop on the Cubs roster! It was fun gifting that to them when I returned. The whole family was excited. I always joked that I had to wait 62 years for this moment – Adam's daughter only had to wait 11 hours! I told them they had to take a photo of Addi wearing that ONSIE, at Wrigley Field, sometime in the near future. They happily agreed and obliged me that photo about 18 months later!
I wandered around Wrigleyville amidst the sea of Cubbie Blue at the ballpark, in and out of the various venues for more than an hour. I was just soaking all that championship energy in and taking photos.
But as time hurried on, I knew my time was getting closer to departure. I had done what I came to do. I took The Red Line back down to the loop and transferred to the Orange Line to travel back to Midway airport. Everywhere I went, from the subway, the “L”, the rooftops, to the airport everybody was in a reveling party mode. It was loud. It was colorful. It was festive, and it was AMAZING!
I made my way to the Delta departing gate still in awe of what I had done that day. The rest of the day and evening is pretty much a blur. I do know for a fact that I landed in Atlanta – made my connection to Little Rock, made a stop at the Delta ticket desk and left a World Championship T-Shirt for Katie-Delta-Bravo… and drove home. As I laid my head on my pillow about 10:00 p.m. I realized that I had woke up in this bed, (as I did every morning), went back to bed (as I did every night), all in the same day. But this day, the 17 hours, from pillow-to-pillow, was a day I never dreamed I would be living!
I was a VERY elated and exhausted CUBS fan… zzz…Goodnight, everybody…zzz