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Chicago Cubs capture 2016 World Series title, setting off celebrations
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

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Kris Bryant fielded a slow-rolling ground ball near third base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Nov. 2, then whipped it across the field to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, retiring a speedy runner for the Cleveland Indians.

Rizzo threw his arms in the air in celebration. So too did the entire city of Chicago—and the rest of Cubs nation.

The Cubs ended a 108-year draught, defeating the host Indians to capture the deciding Game 7 of the World Series.

Chicago won, 8-7.

The emotional, nail-biting, rain-delayed game set off a wild party around Wrigley Field, along Halsted Street in nearby Boystown, and around the city and suburbs.

It happened, finally.

"It's great to see the Cubs get off the schneid [winless, scoreless or hitless] and give Chicago its second World Series win of the millennium," said Chicago sportswriter Christina Kahrl, who worked locally into the wee hours of the morning while the city went wild in celebration. "With all due credit to the [White] Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and even the 1985 Bears, this is the biggest deal in Chicago sports history EVER."

Chicagoans started planning for the party during the game, turning the streets around Wrigley Field in Lakeview into a street party waiting to explode. Rizzo's catch set off a party scene the city had never witnessed. And thanks to social media, tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans shared their emotions for the world, many people showing the scene via Facebook Live.

"The Cubs, winning [the World Series] after 108 years, is truly a special sports moment," said Kirk Walker, assistant softball coach at UCLA, who was texting back and forth during the final two innings with openly gay former major leaguer Billy Bean.

"Quite possibly, never in Chicago history, has there been such a moment of unity, relief, jubilation and exaltation," said Steve Moran of Chicago. "Being at Wrigley Field minutes after the win and reveling in the joy of a long-awaited victory was one of those magical moments you'll recall until the end of your days."

Former Chicago resident Alex LaCasse, who now lives in Seattle, said hours after the victory that the win is "so much more about the people of Chicago, and I think the Cubs players would agree. Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world and these players, this team, exemplifies that."

LaCasse added, "That Game 7 was like nothing I've seen. I think Chicago fans were prepared for the worst, but were lifted up by the spirit of the city. Chicago holds such a special place in my heart; I know this win means so much to so many people."

Laura Ricketts, a 2013 inductee into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, is co-owner of the team. The Cubs team is even an inductee to the Chicago-based Gay Sports Hall of Fame. Because of Laura's involvement in the LGBT community, and support of so many LGBT causes, Wrigley Field has really grown its LGBT fan base in recent years,

Jerry Pritikin, a lifelong Cubs fan known as the Bleacher Preacher and a longtime LGBT activist, also is a Gay Sports Hall of Fame honoree. He was interviewed live on The Today Show the morning after. Pritikin only said three words, but what magical words they are: "Go Cubs Go."

"I could not be happier for the World Champion Chicago Cubs and their amazing fans," said Bean, who now works for Major League Baseball. "For so many years, they have loved their team through thick and thin.

"The Cubs inclusive message is a great example for everyone. I can [still] hear the cheering in Boystown."

Sidetrack, for instance, was as packed, fan-filled as it would be for any major LGBT event, be in Pride weekend or Market Days. Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof said that there were more than 1,100 people watching Game Seven at the popular Boystown bar.

"People were pacing, clutching their hearts and praying to anyone listening," in the final innings of the game, Balof said. "[When] it happened, the place went bananas.

"It was great to see LGBT patrons have an amazing venue to watch the games, and it was equally amazing to introduce new straight patrons to Sidetrack. Many returned for multiple games since we are a great venue that wasn't charging a cover. There was a great celebratory mood [for Game 7]. The Cubs came back from a 3-1 game deficit to win three in a row. All of us at Sidetrack are so proud of the Cubs and all they have brought to Chicago."

The Cubs also were the story throughout the playoffs at Roscoe's, D.S. Tequila, The North End, and many other spots in Boystown.

Brian Sommer, a lifelong Cubs fan who is part of the Class of 2016 inductees to the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) Hall of Fame, watched Game Seven at Sidetrack with many of his CMSA softball teammates.

"[Sidetrack] was packed and everyone was either excited or nervous, depending on what was going on in the game. The crowd would cheer and throw napkins [in the air] when the Cubs did well. Many started crying when the Cubs [clinched]," Sommer said.

Tami Engelman, who plays for the Chicago Force women's football team, enjoyed the action from, oh, about 30,000 feet in the air. She was on board a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas.

"To see so many people, young and old, rich and not [so rich], and every other difference you can think of, embrace this game, [this] series and all of the accomplishment of the Chicago Cubs organization added to the amazement. The city was truly brought together," with the title, she said.

Matt McGary now lives in Houston, yet reflected hours after the win on his years living in Chicago. "I've been a Cubs fan since 2003 when I moved to Chicago, [and] could hear the roar of Wrigley from where I lived. That hooked me [on the Cubs]."

Love for the Cubs was wide spread on social media, and has been throughout the playoffs.

"When I was too young to remember, my grandfather brainwashed me to be a Cubs fan, [though I] grew up in [St. Louis] Cardinals country," Cameron Turner wrote on Facebook. "In September 2002, I got a call to come home because my grandfather was going to pass away. I got in my car and listened to the Cubs game on the radio the whole way to the hospital. I knew that's what we would talk about. When I walked into the hospital room, his first and close to last words to me were, 'Cubs won today!' He was right.

"They also won today. They won a little bit more today. This would have made his life. It has made my life."

Mark Tumiel said on Facebook that the Cubs "are not just a baseball team—they are our part of our family." He added, "They are the fabric of our friendships. They are our summers. They are the neighborhood in which so many of us grew up as adults. They are our community. They are part of what makes us who we are. I never realized this until my emotions [overflowed] tonight."

Amy Matheny said the Cubs playoff journey was an epic ride.

Brian Redar, a longtime CMSA participant, said the title was "one for the ages."

"Like your first love, you'll never forget how this made you feel," he added.

Not all Chicagoan wore Cubbie Blue, though. Ryan Cowden, for one, cheered for his native Cleveland crew, and he even attended Game 6.

After Game 7, Cowden said on Facebook, "What a Series and season, Indians; thanks for the unexpected ride. Congrats Cubs."

Jeff Weber, a Chicago resident who is a diehard Cardinals fan, said the Cubs championship "is fantastic for the city of Chicago … this team definitely deserves it; the city deserves it."

Longtime LGBT activist David Hackett summed up the victory amid tears of joy by calling it "Nirvana for our city."

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