Jubilant Chicago Cubs fans spilled from sports bars, restaurants and viewing parties across the city to celebrate their beloved team’s first World Series triumph in 108 years on Wednesday.
The Cubs, long-known as Major League Baseball’s “Loveable Losers,” had endured one of professional sports’ longest streaks without a title and their fans suffered along with the team, enduring decades of disappointment.
But in the early hours of Thursday morning, not long after Chicago blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning with two outs, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant fielded a grounder that he fired to first for the final out.
“Unbelievable. We have been waiting a long time for this. Just to be around everyone to see this. This is perfect baseball,” Greg Kojak, 36, said as he watched a TV through a glass door at a restaurant near Wrigley.
The Cubs trailed the Cleveland Indians 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but battled back from the brink of elimination this week, setting the stage for Wednesday’s winner-take-all showdown in Ohio.
Wrigleyville, the neighborhood around Wrigley Field, burst into wild celebration with thousands of fans screaming and jumping as the last out was recorded. Fireworks lit up the sky as fans sprayed beer and Champagne.
“I can’t even explain how I feel right now. This is so epic. I’ve waited my whole life for this. This is the most amazing feeling in the world,” said Dina Mansaour, 33, sobbing on the street a few blocks from the stadium where fans stood on cars and waved “W” victory flags.
In Cleveland, dejected fans who have not seen their own team win a title since 1948, were left wondering what went wrong.
Like the Boston Red Sox, who battled the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” after trading away legendary slugger Babe Ruth in 1920 to their arch rival New York Yankees, the Cubs have their own bad luck legend: the “Curse of the Billy Goat.”
In 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was supposedly asked to leave Wrigley because the smell of his pet goat was disturbing other patrons. Sianis allegedly vowed the Cubs would not win any more, and the team had to wait until this year to finally return to the World Series.
“There’s no more curse now, the goat is history,” said Cubs fan Rodrigo Gonzales, 24, moments after the game ended.
The team’s diehard fans stuck with the team despite its failures. They watched, and waited, as Chicago’s other sports franchises racked up championships. Even the crosstown rival White Sox ended their own decades-long title drought, winning the World Series in 2005.
The Cubs have had a few close calls since 1945, including 1984, when Chicago was one win away from going to the World Series but lost three straight games to the San Diego Padres.
But perhaps their most painful loss came 13 years ago during Game Six of the National League Championship Series with a chance to make the World Series.
Leading 3-0 in the eighth inning, the Cubs collapsed after a fan named Steve Bartman reached for and deflected a foul ball that outfielder Moises Alou appeared to have a shot at catching.
Florida went on win the game and series as Bartman became a symbol of the Cubs’ cursed fortunes.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Denise Watford, 36, near Wrigley Field.