CHICAGO -- Sure, it has been 108 years since the Cubs last won the World Series. Nobody knows much about the immortal Orval Overall, the pitcher whose complete game wrapped up that 1908 Fall Classic over Ty Cobb's Tigers, but that's OK.The Cubs have always kept seats available on the
CHICAGO -- Sure, it has been 108 years since the Cubs last won the World Series. Nobody knows much about the immortal Orval Overall, the pitcher whose complete game wrapped up that 1908 Fall Classic over Ty Cobb's Tigers, but that's OK.
The Cubs have always kept seats available on the bandwagon, and if you haven't fallen in love with the team that manager Joe Maddon has run out on the field over the last two years, you must not have been paying attention.
• Get official gear: Go, Cubs, going to World Series!
But most Cubs fans loved them back in 2012, when they lost 101 games, and these days love them like they do a 72-degree day in December. The level of support is consistently impressive, with fans often making so much noise at road games that you'd think the Cubs were playing at home.
And Wrigley Field, with the Ernie Banks statue in the front and the Harry Caray statue behind the bleachers? That's holy ground, my friend. Just ask the generations of Chicagoans who have snuck their loved one's ashes into the park and dumped them over the outfield wall, into the ivy or onto the warning track.
• World Series Game 1: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET air time | 8 ET game time on FOX
Who will be backing the Cubs in the World Series? Let's name some of the groups:
:: Complete World Series coverage ::
Born and breds, with bonafides: Chicago is as provincial as its Lake Michigan shoreline is beautiful. The Cubs' fan base is loaded with families who have followed the team since the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance years, with season-ticket holders that date to the Phil Wrigley ownership group.
One sign in the stands at Game 6 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers speaks loudly for these folks: "Do it for Mom.'' How can you argue with that?
• Oldest living Cubs fan cheers club to World Series
Snowbirds who migrate west: So many Cub fans have retired to Arizona or spend winters there that Chicago chains like Portillo's and Lou Malnati's have opened restaurants in Phoenix. The Cubs play Spring Training games in the biggest park in the Cactus League, and it's hard to get tickets.
Midwestern bartenders: Sure, the bars on Clark Street are packed with Cubs fans -- one actually ran out of beer on Saturday night -- but taverns across Illinois have been loaded with fans every time the Cubs played this season. Winning baseball is good business.
A-listers: The Cubs will put their list of celebrity fans up against those of any other franchise, not just the Indians. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, from Seattle, was sitting in president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's suite for the Game 6 clincher, and he has been known to go to Jon Lester's rooftop for sing-a-longs to his song "Someday We'll Go All the Way,'' which he once sang with Banks at a Wrigley Field concert.
Actor John Cusack recently sold his Malibu beachfront property seemingly to live in his box at Wrigley Field (he was there for more than 60 games this year). Comedians Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert, musician Billy Corgan, political commentator George Will, author Sara Paretsky as well as actors Bonnie Hunt, Jeff Garlin, Joe Mantegna, Tom Dreesen, Jim Belushi, Bob Newhart and Nick Offerman are among those likely to attend World Series games.
Maddon missionaries: Maddon's work on the field speaks for itself. But he has also been very active in community work, especially in his hometown of Hazleton, Pa., where he grew up in an apartment of his father's plumbing shop, and in Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, where he managed the Rays for eight years and still maintains a strong presence.
Boys of Summer (1969 variety): Banks and Ron Santo are among 15 members of the legendary '69 Cubs who have died. But Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins remain regulars at Wrigley, and Randy Hundley serves as a Spring Training instructor. You better believe most of the boys who were once the toast of Chicago will be rooting for their old team in the World Series.
Beisbol fanaticos: The Cubs have the Indians out-numbered in players from Latin America on the postseason roster, 7-5. They should be the team to root for in Cuba (Aroldis Chapman and Jorge Soler) and Venezuela (Willson Contreras, Miguel Montero and Héctor Rondón), while being repped by Javier Báez in Puerto Rico and Pedro Strop in the Dominican Republic.
Baseball Pipeline peeps: When Epstein thanks the fans, he always acknowledges the large group that followed the development of players like Baez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Contreras through the Minor Leagues while the Major League team was losing. Fans in Kodak, Tenn., east of Knoxville, got to watch Baez blast 20 home runs there in 2013 and then Bryant do him two better the very next summer. Fans in Iowa City -- just a short drive from Chicago -- no doubt fondly remember their glimpse of Russell, who hit .318/.326/.477 there in '15 after being acquired from the A's. Those prospects of yesterday are now the stars of today.
Steve Goodman fans (even if they may not know it): The late folk singer who wrote "City of New Orleans'' lived in an apartment on Waveland Avenue and wrote the song "Go Cubs, Go'' in 1984, the year he died from leukemia at age 36. It was a throw-off that amused him but it is now sung at Wrigley every Cubs win, and it has been heard more than a mile away.
Mensa members: No one's saying the Indians are dumb. But the Cubs feature a Major League ERA leader in Kyle Hendricks who holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Dartmouth. Epstein graduated from Yale and the University of San Diego Law.
And finally ...
Florists: Epstein can still get choked up when he thinks about the flowers and other tributes he saw at New England cemeteries when the Red Sox returned from sweeping the Cardinals in 2004. That scene is sure to play out in Chicago if the Cubs can win their first since Overall shut down the Tigers (although business would be pretty good in Cleveland, too).
Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.