Former Cubs revel in World Series triumph

'This, for me, is the last feather in the cap,' Sandberg says

November 4th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' World Series win had as much to do with their history as it did with their breathtaking 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 on Wednesday night, so it would seem only fitting that the now ex-Lovable Losers included the brightest stars from their past to celebrate.

The collective sigh of relief wasn't taken just by the mainstream fanbase, as plenty of former players celebrated the Cubs' historic championship.

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Hall of Famers and fan favorites, many of whom were invited back throughout October to participate in the Cubs' postseason pageantry, celebrated "Cubstock," as manager Joe Maddon phrased it, during the parade and rally on Friday at Grant Park.

The event drew a reported 5 million fans.

Headlining the list of prominent alumnus was Hall of Famer and Cubs ambassador Ryne Sandberg, who was clearly reveling in what this year's Cubs team was able to do that his 1984 and '89 postseason clubs could not.

Riding on a parade bus designated for former players, Sandberg, known as laid-back and mellow, looked absolutely giddy.

"This, for me, is the last feather in the cap," he said to WGN. "I was just talking to someone, three things off of my bucket list: Cubs to a World Series, Cubs win a World Series and then a parade down Michigan Avenue. All in a week's time. You can't beat that."

Hall of Famer Billy Williams, a regular visitor to Wrigley Field, was part of the stage presentation when the team arrived to Grant Park to address the crowd.

Kerry Wood, one of the Cubs' longest-tenured pitchers who struck out 20 Astros in a single game in 1998, also rode on the bus, tweeting several stunning photos of the masses of fans that had packed a relatively compact section of Chicago for the parade. He was joined by Ryan Dempster, a Cub from 2004-12 who is known for both his pitching excellence and his spot-on Harry Caray impression.

Still more legends who weren't at the celebration in person expressed their congratulations to the Cubs. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who won an MVP as a Cub and was part of the 1989 postseason club, attended Games 4 and 5 of the World Series and noted the familiar excitement and support of the Wrigley faithful.

"Nobody left their seat," he said. "They were cheering, every strike, every out, every man that got on base. It was pretty overwhelming."

The Cubs winning the whole thing didn't surprise the Hawk.

"They're going to be something to be reckoned with for a while," Dawson said. "I think they pretty much built, I don't want to call it a dynasty, but they've got the right parts, the right pieces. The perfect blend of veteran presences, leadership, young ballplayers."

Former pitcher Mark Prior, part of the 2003 playoff team, attended Games 3-5 with his family in his first trip back to Wrigley since he played for the team in '06.

"I'm just happy for them and happy for all the people who have worked tirelessly to this point, really everyone throughout the organization, like the ushers in the stands that took care of our families when I was playing," Prior said. "They're still there and it's good to know they got to experience that."

Shawon Dunston, a former Cubs' first-round Draft pick who spent the first 12 years of his Major League career with the club, said their World Series victory left him "kind of numb."

"Like, 'Wow, the Cubs really won?'" he said. "I think I'm more happy for the fans. They always came out to the games and rooted for us when we were in last place. They wanted the Cubs to win so badly. Those are really good, loyal fans who go back through years and years."