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Loyola basketball, Sister Jean receive warm welcome at Cubs’ home opener

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts chats with Porter Andrew Moser, head men's basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago, before the Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at the home-opener at Wrigley Field, Tuesday, April 11, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Loyola coach Porter Moser remembers being an eager young baseball fan who hung out near the dugout to wait for players to autograph his baseballs or jersey.

On Tuesday, Moser and the rest of his crew, including 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, were welcomed as special guests at the Cubs’ home opener against the Pirates.

‘‘It does not get much better than this,’’ Moser said with a smile.

RELATED STORY: Watch Sister Jean throw out first pitch at Cubs’ home opener 

Sister Jean joined Moser and senior guard Ben Richardson in throwing out ceremonial first pitches. The basketball chaplain waved the ball from side to side from her wheelchair at the edge of the dirt circle surrounding home plate. She tossed the ball underhand and covered her mouth and giggled when it bounced just a couple of feet in front of her.


Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, 98, the chaplain for Loyola University men’s basketball, throws the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs home-opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, Tuesday, April 11, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Richardson had a tough act to follow but managed to throw a solid pitch down the middle.

The Cubs had been fans of the Ramblers since Selection Sunday. Manager Joe Maddon, third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo shared videos wishing Loyola luck on its March Madness quest.

By the end of the NCAA Tournament, in which Loyola reached the Final Four before losing to Michigan, thousands of people identified themselves as Ramblers fans. Moser said it was ‘‘surreal’’ to see how the city rallied around the Ramblers.

As Moser walked through the concourse at Wrigley Field, fans stopped him and said, ‘‘Thank you.’’

‘‘As a coach, you don’t hear that often,’’ Moser said.

Moser, Richardson and guard Marques Townes also led the crowd of more than 40,000 in singing ‘‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’’ during the seventh-inning stretch.

More than a week after the end of Loyola’s season, Moser has had time to reflect on what his 32-6 team accomplished.

‘‘It’s starting to set in,’’ Moser said. ‘‘So much in the games it was moment-to-moment, and now it’s been really neat to see the people and interact with the people.’’