CLEVELAND – They are everywhere the Chicago Cubs go, clad in jerseys bearing the names of Maddux or Banks or Bryant or Farnsworth. Indeed, fans of the game’s most downtrodden franchise have always shown out in cities across the major leagues.
But the Cubs’ first World Series appearance since 1945 has produced another concept entirely for their fans: Displacement.
With the cheapest ticket for Game 3 at Wrigley Field going for more than $1,500 on the secondary market, Cub fans nationwide quickly turned their eyes six hours to the east and Progressive Field.
Instead of converging at Addison and Russell, they swallowed their pride and struck out for the corner of Ontario and Carnegie – some driving from as far as North Carolina, others deserting Chicago itself to gobble up tickets that were only going for $750 and up for the first two games.
Wednesday night’s Game 2 was possibly the final road game for the Cubs this year, capping a playoff run where their fans at times came out in fuller throat than home fans at Dodger Stadium during the National League Championship Series.
During Game 1’s 6-0 loss, there was little to cheer about, but the roar of Cub supporters was undeniable as the team put the tying runs on base in the seventh inning. And in Wednesday’s Game 2, a lusty “Let’s Go Cubs!” chant immediately followed Anthony Rizzo’s first-inning RBI double.
“It was great last night to see all the blue,” Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist said Wednesday. “Cub fans all over the stadium - that was really cool. I wish we could have gotten a W for them.
“But yeah, it’s always a huge support for the club, knowing there are Cub fans everywhere and they travel to follow us. It’s what makes it fun, and makes the motivation high for us to try to win this.”
Motivation was the watchword for the thousands of Cubs fans huddled under concourses before Game 2. Patrick Burnside lives in Roselle, a northwest Chicago suburb. He attended Division Series and NLCS games.
For the World Series? His commute went from 30 miles to 375 miles after pricing tickets on StubHub.
“It sucks because I’d been to the last two series,” he said Wednesday. “It’s annoying I could not afford (Wrigley tickets), but thankfully I came here.
“I’ve fallen in love with Cleveland people. We’re happy for them and that it’s not the Yankees or Cardinals. I’m impressed by the city.”
Indeed, more than a dozen Cub fans surveyed before Game 2 indicated a kinship with Indians fans, with that franchise carrying a 78-year title drought of its own. The city provided the backdrop for memories for folks like Tom Welter, 66, and his 40-year-old son, Mike. Tom drove more than 500 miles from Dubuque, Iowa to meet Mike, who flew from Portland, Ore.
That was about the same drive for Trinity Watson, who traveled from Canton, Ill., to fulfill a promise to her great aunt that she’d take her to a game when the Cubs finally made the World Series.
Ticket prices in Chicago compelled them to make it a road trip.
“Hell yeah, we would’ve preferred (Wrigley),” she said from field level seats in Section 118. “But we got two tickets here for less than the cost of one there, and we wouldn’t be down here.”
And Scott Poore and his father, Roger, flew here instead of Chicago from Florida. They do, however, have a Plan B in mind to get to Chicago after the series shifts: A postgame visit to JACK Cleveland Casino.
“If I hit right at the blackjack table later,” he said, “we’ll be at Wrigley.”