You might want to grab a box of tissues.
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series on Wednesday night, beating the Cleveland Indians in an incredible Game 7. As you probably know by now, it's their first world championship in 108 years, by far the longest drought in major professional sports. That means millions of Cubs fans over the past century went their entire lifetime, from birth to death, without seeing their beloved team win it all.
And that, in essence, was what made Wednesday night so amazing - and so heartbreaking for the Cubs fans with loved ones who couldn't live long enough to see it.
That brings us to the rightfield brick wall on the outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago. Boxes of chalk were left out by the wall so fans could turn it into a makeshift memorial, scribbling the names of Cubs fans who passed away before watching their team win a championship.
“My parents are gone,” one Cubs fan, Tom Dale, told Lauren Comitor of The Athletic. “But they’re here.”
If you're a Detroit Lions fan, you can surely relate to the decades of misery that Cubs fans have endured over the years. And even Detroit Tigers fans, despite a 1984 championship that isn't quite as long ago in comparison, have faced similar tales of tragedy, watching their team win four division championships and reach the World Series twice over the past decade without the satisfaction of a world championship.
For the Cubs and their generations of fans, however, losing became an unprecedented annual tradition. The "Lovable Losers" moniker didn't happen by accident. Families of Cubs fans have passed their fandom down to their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, and all they could share to this point was annual disappointment.
Take Bill Waskelis, whose story we chronicled earlier this week, for example. A doctor gave the 78-year-old Detroit native just 30 days to live right before his beloved Cubs entered the postseason. Though his body continued to deteriorate, he continued to watch Cubs games with his son, Kevin, just like they always have over the years. He died Monday afternoon ... two days before the Cubs finally won it all.
Let that be a lesson for all sports fans, not just for Detroit: Cherish the moments you get to watch sports with your loved ones. Celebrate and remember the great victories while comforting each other during the tragic losses. If you do one day get to witness, say, the Lions winning the Super Bowl or the Tigers winning the World Series, pay tribute to the fans who couldn't get to see it. They certainly would've enjoyed the heck out of it.
Contact Brian Manzullo: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrianManzullo.
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