Yearning fans at Wrigley weren’t ready for this blast of reality

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A hopeful Cubs fan holds up a sign in the seventh inning Friday, but the Cubs failed to put anything on the board. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images


That was the mood among the faithful swarming Wrigley Field for the Cubs’ first World Series in 71 years.

Disbelief mixed with giddiness. Salted with good cheer.

If that makes sense.

Maybe only in dreams. But that’s what this is, right — one of those?

Plus, there was a camaraderie that extended from person to person like a friendly virus.

Long before Kyle Hendricks threw the first pitch to Cleveland Indians leadoff man Carlos Santana (No, not the guitar player!), the bars and restaurants of Wrigleyville were jammed. You could almost feel the places vibrating through their doors.

A family from Sugar Grove, Illinois, the Pritchards, half-leaned out the back street window of the GMan Tavern at 3740 N. Clark, where they had encamped hours before game time.

“It took me 45 minutes just to get in the door!” son Mike said to his mom, Karen.

Dad Jeff grew up in Chicago. He was thrilled to hold up his phone and show a photo of his baseball card of former Cubs catcher Cuno Barragan, whose name was misspelled “Barragon” on the card.

“He’s the only Cubs catcher to hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat,” Jeff said, knowingly. “Until Willson Contreras did it

this year!”

Right he was. Funny, Barragan never hit another homer in his career.

“He’s crazy,” said Karen.

“I was at Kenny Holtzman’s no-hitter in 1969,” said Jeff. “Aug. 19, 1969. I have the scorecard.”

“He’s crazy,” Karen said again.

As Jeff fished that scorecard photo onto his phone display, I bid everyone adieu. There were so many fans everywhere. The Cubs humanity!

On Grace Street, I saw the first car getting towed. If you drove a dark-red Toyota sedan to the game and can’t find it, get your wallet and start calling.

Inside the park, Cubs president Theo Epstein marveled at the fan base along his game-day walk to Wrigley.

“Today I probably took 150 selfies in a half-mile walk to work,” he said. “People recognized me, and they were happy and they wanted selfies. I was happy to do it. People were in just a celebratory mood.”

Oh, weren’t they!

And if only Jorge Soler had taken off in a sprint on his seventh-inning triple instead of standing, then jogging until realizing the ball wasn’t caught and was in play, life would be much, much happier in Cubdom. A 1-0 loss stings terribly. Even in this lucky time.

People like Christy Larson and her daughter Annalise felt the power of the moment. Christy brought along a large photo glued to a stick of her dad, Russ Snyder, a crazy Cubs fan, who died of cancer in 1985.

“Yes, I brought Dad and her granddad,” said Christy. “He’d be over-the-moon happy.”

Not far away on Clark, as the multitudes grew, 11 big, brown horses with reflective tape around their ankles and Chicago cops in blue helmets aboard, kept order — and kept the street in front of the park empty. But this didn’t stop wheelchair-bound Mary Ann Freillig, 81, from getting pushed down the middle of the street by two lady friends and into the park.

“I’ve had season tickets for 50 years,” said Freillig cheerfully, decked out in an all-blue Cubby sweatsuit.

Nearby, a handcuffed guy in a Zobrist jersey was perp-walked by six cops down the street toward a paddywagon. Naughty boy! Oh, yeah, and his also-cuffed buddy in a black T-shirt went with him. Everybody felt connected Saturday night.

“How about the excitement throughout our industry, throughout the game, and throughout our city?” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “Everybody being engaged in this moment, it’s good.”

Alas, even Bill Murray, standing in the narrow hallway near the TV booth and spontaneously breaking into “I Got a Line on You” with an old journalist pal, shortly before he sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to Cubs Nation — it made no difference.

The bonding, the yearning, the hopeful joy — they took a whack from harsh reality.

Nobody has ever won a game with no runs. Not even the Cubs.

Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.


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