CHICAGO -- Jimmy Orlandi passed away last summer, one year before the Cubs made history by claiming their first National League pennant since 1945 with a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.TJ Orlandi, Jimmy's grandson, carried on the Cubs fandom as part of the excited
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Orlandi passed away last summer, one year before the Cubs made history by claiming their first National League pennant since 1945 with a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.
TJ Orlandi, Jimmy's grandson, carried on the Cubs fandom as part of the excited throng of people making their way to Wrigley Field throughout Saturday's contest. In fact, the apartment where Orlandi and his friends live on Sheffield, about one-half block from the stadium, became a focal point for approximately 100 fans over the last two innings, with the game being shown on a front-porch television.
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The 38-year-old remembers tougher Cubs postseason finishes, such as in 1984, when they blew a 2-0 lead over the Padres by losing three straight in the then best-of-five NLCS.
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"I remember crying on my grandpa's lap in Game 5," said Orlandi on Saturday night. "I was at home. My mom said to go to grandpa's down the street because he's a Cubs fan and he's going to bring you good luck. I cried on his lap.
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"We didn't win. My grandpa, a die-hard Cubs fan, the last time he saw a World Series was World War II over in Europe. He listened on the USO Network with a guy from Detroit. I never thought I would see this day, but here we are."
Streets around Wrigley Field started filling up at least four hours before the 7:08 p.m. CT first pitch. More fans made their way toward the celebratory point in the seventh and eighth innings, letting the festivities begin in full force once they heard the Yasiel Puig double play completed, closing out Game 6 and the series.
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Due to the clogged streets around Wrigley, the Dodgers' buses were not able to leave the area until about 11:30 p.m., nearly two hours after the game ended.
"You would expect overturning cars," said Jake Saylor, one of the fans taking in the baseball history. "The housing is so close. The bars are so close. The people on the streets are so close. The stadium emptying out full and happy is so close. You would expect chaos, but it was so nice and calm and respectful."
"It's surprisingly peaceful," said Chris Broyles, who was standing with his friend Saylor.
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Fans were celebrating in the moment, belting out "Go Cubs Go" and featuring jerseys from all generations, all the while capturing every moment on video with their phones. There was even one fan paying homage to Elvis Presley in a Cubs jumpsuit.
But this celebration was for more than just the present. It honored the fans such as Orlandi's late grandfather who waited for the Cubs to get to the Fall Classic, but never saw the exciting moment.
"It means a lot to me, but my dad has been waiting for this," said Tara Gallagly, celebrating for her 76-year-old father. "I'm cheering for it for myself, but for him too. My grandfather never saw one."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.