This year, it truly was the year of the Chicago Cubs. And the amount of people that came to Wrigley Field to see them is the biggest sign of that fact.
The long-suffering Chicago Cubs’ fans are a big part of the Cubs narrative. Attendance figures were released that showed that 3,232,420 fans came out for the 81 home games at Wrigley Field. That is the second highest mark in franchise history. Over 3,300,000 fans saw the Cubs play in 2008, the last year they won a division crown. That is a lot of hot dogs, cokes, beers, shirts and hats, by the way.
An estimated 5 million fans turned out on a beautiful Fall day to witness the Cubs’ parade and rally in Grant Park. I saw an image near State and Randolph Streets in downtown Chicago and it was literally a sea of people. People who never saw the long Cubs bus caravan came out in the streets “just to be there.” Cub fans came from all over the mid-west and the rest of the nation. They poured into Chicago to salute their beloved Cubbies.
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Perhaps this season, the team embraced its past and seemed to come together as a Cubs family. Former Cubs’ pitcher Ryan Dempster did a spot-on impression of Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Before a game in May, the Cubs used the voice of Pat Pieper, the long-time public address announcer to “introduce” the starting lineups. I used to go to Cubs games as a boy and remember hearing him say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, get your pencils and scorecards ready, here are the starting lineups.”
Pieper was the P.A. announcer from 1916-1974. Now there was a man who has seen a lot of Cubs history, the good and not so good.
In the song, “Go Cubs Go!”, which they sing after every Cubs win, there is a reference to WGN, the original TV station that broadcast Chicago Cubs’ games. Harry Caray, was the radio announcer on WGN for so many years but Jack Brickhouse was the Cubs’ TV broadcaster who called thousands of games in the ‘50’s, 60’s and 70’s. His name was mentioned at the rally. He was the man at the mike when Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run.
It may be trending that the Cubs are breaking out to become “America’s team”. For so long the Cubs could not get over the hump. It’s not just that Chicago loves the Cubs, but fans all over the country love them too. They’ve become winners. Finally.
The way this team is built, it could happen again.