The Ernie Banks statue outside Wrigley Field was an epicenter of fan excitement Saturday night — even for Mets fans.
Louis Petruccelli, in town for work from Long Island, looked up at it and shouted into his phone, “I’m right in fronta Ernie Banks!”
A Mets fan “for life,” Petruccelli wore a Mets hat.
“Everyone is very cool,” he said as fans — most of them rooting for the Cubs — waited their turn to take selfies with Mr. Cub. “I don’t know if you could walk around New York with a Cubs hat.”
The Cubs were playing the Mets in New York and on national television, but some fans in Chicago couldn’t seem to stay away from Wrigley Field after the magical season that put them in the National League championship series.
There was a steady stream of fans stopping to take pictures at the statues of Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. Throughout the game, hundreds were constantly milling around Clark and Addison. And dozens were constantly outside the Captain Morgan bar on Addison and also outside nearby Murphy’s Bleachers.
At one point, a group of men smoking stogies at the Billy Williams statue talked about the Cubs win predicted in the movie “Back to the Future Part II.”
“We may not be on hoverboards, but we’re definitely gonna see the Cubbies win,” said Landon McDonald, 23, an assembly worker from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Doc and Marty McFly,” agreed his father, Tim McDonald, 44.
They were in Chicago for a bachelor party for Cameron Baker, 25, a tree-trimmer from Fort Wayne. Rounding out the group was Cameron’s brother, Zach, 24, a Delta Airlines staffer from Atlanta, and George Schibley, 25, a fencing worker, also from Fort Wayne.
“Back to the future,” they said, puffing on their cigars with a satisfied air that Cubs fans everywhere may have lost as the Mets won game one of the series 4-2.
Adding to the carnival atmosphere was artist Dana Toft, painstakingly painting images of Wrigley Field and the gathering crowds on canvas from a spot on Addison Street.
“I relate to it like a bullfight,” said Toft, 60, a North Sider. “I’m capturing all the drama outside.”
Jeff McDermott, 37, took pictures with his daughter, Olivia, 2.
“I taught her to say ‘Go Cubs go!” said McDermott, who works in landscaping in Dearborn, Michigan.
Sisters Karina and Gloria Ramos, 30 and 19, respectively, came from Modesto, California. They were in town to visit their brother, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. They’re Atlanta Braves fans but were taking pictures with Banks’ statue because they prefer the Cubs to the Braves’ rival Mets.
Across the way at Murphy’s Bleachers, gladiator shouts of “Let’s go, Mets!” rang out from a group of young men walking past the bar. Good-natured but vigorous responses from nearby Cubs fans on the street instructed the Mets to commit acts of physical impossibility.
Murphy’s was so crowded that bundled-up fans sat outside the bar and watched the game on flat-screens on the exterior wall. And there was enough of a fall chill that the bouncers were drinking hot chocolate.
Dr. Darwin Eton, 57, a vascular surgeon, was one of them. He wore a woolen headband and scarf under his Cubs hat. Though a native New Yorker, he switched allegiances from the Meta to the Cubs in part because he married Linda Eton, a registered nurse from Illinois who’s a Cubs fan.
“I hope we can come out with a win so some of the pressure is off of the players,” Darwin Eton said while there was still hope that might happen.
Even though they live just a mile and a half from Wrigley, “We have to be here,” Linda Eton said. “We wanted to be here with all of the fans.”
Even her 96-year-old father, a lifelong Cardinals fan who grew up near St. Louis, told her he’s now rooting for the Cubs.