Fans counting down to first Cubs home World Series game since ’45

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Brian Robinson and Lisa Burton put off their wedding to come see the Cubs play in the World Series in Chicago. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

With the Cubs’ first home World Series game since 1945 set for 7:08 p.m. Friday, fans have been showing up at and around Wrigley Field all day to count down to game time.

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Lifelong Cubs fan Brian Robinson and his fiance Lisa Burton were supposed to get married in November.

But when the Cubs made the World Series, the Birmingham, Alabama, couple put off their “I do” moment till June, got in their car, drove 10 hours and stood near the ballpark in “cubby bear” costumes Friday that she found online.

“I’ve told every employer since I was 18 years old that I’d be happy to work 365 days a year, but, if the Cubs go to the World Series, I’m going,” said Robinson, who said he paid $2,500 for two rooftop tickets for all three games scheduled for Chicago.

And the bride-to-be is OK with this?

“I love him so much,” she said. “I love that he’s silly enough to put on a bear outfit and walk the streets of Chicago — and look at the joy in his eyes. There is nothing I could ever do that would make him this happy.”

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From left, Jimmie Post, Mark Pasignajen and Josh Miller were among the first to set up camp Friday behind the FOX Sports 1 stage across from Wrigley Field. | Sam Charles / Sun-Times

From left, Jimmie Post, Mark Pasignajen and Josh Miller were among the first to set up camp Friday behind the FOX Sports 1 stage across from Wrigley Field. | Sam Charles / Sun-Times

More than five hours before the first pitch, four men hunkered down kitty-corner from the entrance to the ballpark’s bleachers, prepared for the long haul, with Powerade and energy bars to help them through the day.

They didn’t have tickets to the game but felt it was important to be there anyway.

“It hasn’t happened in our lifetime,” said Mark Pasignajen of Morton Grove. “It might not happen again.”

Adam Sweger, who was born in Milwaukee Brewers-loving Wisconsin but now lives in Chicago, wasn’t just there for himself. His father, who introduced him to the Cubs, died 10 years ago without getting to see the team play on baseball’s ultimate stage.

“My dad was a Cubs fan, and so he raised me and my brothers that way,” Sweger said. “He never got to see them [in the World Series]. This isn’t just about us. It’s about our families.”

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GalleryAcross the street from the FOX Sports 1 stage, where post-game show analysts and former stars Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose and White Sox legend Frank Thomas would appear later, the line to get in to Murphy’s Bleachers, the popular Wrigleyville bar, was already around the block.

“The line hasn’t moved for two hours,” Pasignajen said.

He said he and his friends are monitoring how much they drink so they don’t need to find a bathroom too often and chance losing their spots.

All four plan to return to their spots for the games Saturday and Sunday.

“If they win the whole thing and none of us were here to see it, we’d regret it every day for the rest of our lives,” Pasignajen said.

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Andrea and William Gonzalez. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

Andrea and William Gonzalez. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

William and Andrea Gonzalez, both 35 and Cubs fans despite being South Siders, didn’t have tickets for Friday’s game but wanted to be near Wrigley Field to experience the atmosphere.

Which they tried to add to by wearing masks that his father made in Mexico City.

“It’s amazing,” William Gonzalez said of being close by with the crowd for the game. “It’s like a Super Bowl.”

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They moved from Chicago to western Kentucky 32 years ago.But their Cubs fandom, they said, continues.

“Once you’ve got it in your blood, there’s no doctor that can cure it,” Bob Norman said. “Even when they lose.”

Norman was born a month before the Cubs’ last World Series appearance 71 years ago.His loyalty to the team was helped by living on Addison Street just a few miles west of the ballpark and going to games with his father.

“Right off the cradle, I had the feeling,” he said Friday. “I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know I’d have to wait 71 years.”

Looking out on a Sheffield Avenue already crowded with revelers a few hours before game time, Norman said: “Look at that hoopla. This is… ”

“Unimaginable,” his son Scott Norman finished the sentence for him.

“ ‘Cubs’ and ‘World Series’ — they don’t collide in the same sentence very often,” Scott Norman said.

“You’re talking about an oxymoron here,” his father said.

The two made the drive up from Kentucky and spent $7,000 for two seats in the upper deck on the third-base side, the father said.The price was well worth the experience, he said: “And then some.”

In costume as the 1908 Cubs star and manager, a man who identified himself only as “Frank Chance” stands outside Wrigley Field on Friday with his Cubs-loving canine. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

In costume as the 1908 Cubs star and manager, a man who identified himself only as “Frank Chance” stands outside Wrigley Field on Friday with his Cubs-loving canine. | Stefano Esposito / Sun-Times

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