CHICAGO -- For the police officer who cried on Benjamin Zobrist's shoulder, and the endless stream of fans who have said "thank you" to Joe Maddon, and the many who wished their parents or grandparents were alive to see the Cubs win a World Series, Monday night was a chance
CHICAGO -- For the police officer who cried on Benjamin Zobrist's shoulder, and the endless stream of fans who have said "thank you" to Joe Maddon, and the many who wished their parents or grandparents were alive to see the Cubs win a World Series, Monday night was a chance to celebrate once again.
Rain delayed the ceremony nearly two hours -- which seemed fitting since the Cubs took advantage of a rain delay in Game 7 to regroup and beat the Indians -- but once it stopped, the players went out to the bleachers in their gold-trimmed jerseys and raised banners to commemorate winning the 2016 National League pennant and the World Series, as well as the 1907 and '08 World Series.
"You must enjoy the celebration," Maddon said before the Cubs walked off on Anthony Rizzo's ninth-inning single. "You should celebrate achievement always."
After a day off, the Cubs will receive their diamond-studded championship rings on Wednesday, which Maddon said should be the point when the team officially turns the page. But he's also enjoying the hangover from winning the franchise's first World Series in 108 years.
"I want [the players] to take the mental snapshots," Maddon said. "It's possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don't miss out."
There was a moment of silence before the game for Major League Baseball executive Katy Feeney and former Cubs general manager Dallas Green, who both recently passed away.
The flags will flank the center-field scoreboard, and Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams took part. Sandberg and Jenkins each raised flags to signify the 1907 and '08 World Series championships, respectively, and Williams raised the flag for the 2016 NL pennant. The Cubs players, who had gone into the bleachers, then took turns raising the flag to celebrate the 2016 World Series, beginning with Rizzo.
Rizzo led the players back on the field while holding the World Series trophy, which he passed to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts then each threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Wrigley Field didn't exist, so Monday was a first. In 1909, the Cubs waited until June 3 to raise the NL pennant, doing so before a game against the Phillies at West Side Park, according to historian Ed Hartig. Both teams walked out to center field to raise the flag. The Cubs players then went to home plate and manager Frank Chance was given an envelope containing $10,000 in playoff bonus money, which was to be split among the entire team.
The Cubs didn't raise the World Series flag until June 16, 1909, doing so against the Dodgers. However, the pulley snapped and the flag broke off and sailed into the left-field bleachers. The grounds crew was able to get the flag up during the game.
Hartig said it was common for teams to wait to celebrate rather than do so on Opening Day. However, the Cubs did raise the NL pennant flag on April 20, 1946, the home opener, rather than wait.
Maddon likes the rings but prefers the banners because they will be a permanent part of Wrigley Field.
"I know it's wonderful, but I've never been that much into jewelry and I do like banners," Maddon said. "They're seen on a daily basis, and I like that kids get to see that and they hear about it."
On Monday, Zobrist's wife, Julianna, sang "God Bless America," Wayne Messmer sang the national anthem, and the Cubs' owners, the Ricketts family, threw out ceremonial first pitches. Jenkins, Sandberg and Williams led the crowd in the seventh-inning stretch.
Now, a new generation is able to share their stories about the Cubs' World Series win. Ben Zobrist expected to see a few tears of joy among the sellout crowd at Wrigley Field.
"It's a special moment in Cubs history," said Zobrist.
Last week in St. Louis, a Chicago police officer approached Zobrist after he had lunch, and started to talk about how much the Cubs winning the World Series meant to his family.
"He just bear-hugged me and started crying on my shoulder," Zobrist said.
Maddon has gotten that response as well.
"It's a lot of gratitude, that's what I hear more than anything, and it's pretty much the same refrain from everybody we meet," Maddon said. "Nobody wants anything, which I love; everybody just wants to say 'Thank you.'"
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Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the team split the banner and ring ceremonies so fans could enjoy each celebration on its own.
"I think it will prove to be a benefit to the fans," Epstein said. "More people can say they were there for one of the ceremonies. Hopefully, there will be special moments, and by the first pitch on Wednesday we can truly turn the page."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.