The Chicago Cubs are playing in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and Cubs fans are hoping they’ll win the Series for the first time in 108 years. As one of the oldest teams in professional baseball, they have amassed a fiercely loyal fan base around the world. Now that they’re within reach of winning, Worldview heard from some of the most devoted international Cubs fans.
In Georgia: Ambassador Ian Kelly
When the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia was 16 in 1969, he fell in love with the Cubs. At the time, he couldn’t believe it had been 24 years since they had last competed in the World Series. Little did he know it would be almost 50 more years--and that he'd be 6,000 miles away--before it would happen again.
“It was a deliverance,” Kelly said of his experience watching the Cubs win the National League Championship Series. “I got down on my hands and knees and thanked the Lord."
This year wasn’t the first time Kelly watched the Cubs postseason with such anticipation. While stationed in Moscow in 1989, Kelly said he had to resort to the Embassy’s advanced communications equipment and snail-mail VHS tapes to watch the Cubs lose.
In Israel: Ambassador Dan Shapiro
For Ambassador Dan Shapiro, this year’s World Series is akin to a religious experience. When the U.S. Ambassador to Israel tries to explain Americans’ devotion to baseball, he cheekily recalls the ancient Israelites wandering through the desert for 40 years. Only with the Cubs, it’s been 108 years of looking for the promised land.
Watching the night playoff games have been tough for Shapiro, his family and other Cubs fans in Israel. The time zone there is eight hours ahead of Chicago’s.
“That makes it awfully hard to arrange a watch party,” Shapiro said. “But I’m not really sure I want to. When I watch these games, I get pretty intense and need to be able to yell at the TV.”
In Canada: Ambassador Bruce Heyman
A few weeks ago, Ambassador Bruce Heyman was secretly hoping to see a World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cubs. It would have been an interesting match up, considering he’s the U.S. Ambassador to Canada and a Cubs season ticket holder.
But now he's all in for the Cubs, and will be hopping on multiple planes to make it to the 2,000 miles from Newfoundland to Chicago and take his son to the game on Sunday. Ambassador Heyman remembers a time when he asked Cubs president Theo Epstein how the team would do. The prospects for that year were bleak, but Epstein told the Ambassador that within five years the team would be a World Series contender. Now the ambassador says he’s a believer.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation, if not once-in-a-couple generations event” Heyman said.
U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert: New Zealand
U.S. ambassador to New Zealand isn’t the only position that Mark Gilbert has held. Before, his position was in the outfield. Gilbert was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1978 and even trained under hall-of-famer Billy Williams. He never got to play in the big leagues with the Cubs, though. Instead, he made his MLB debut with the Cubs’ crosstown rivals, the White Sox, in 1985.
Between 1985 and 2014, Gilbert made a career in finance. In that time, he went from the White Sox to President Barack Obama’s administration. Gilbert is the only former professional baseball player to become a U.S. Ambassador. With deep roots in Chicago baseball, he’ll be rooting for the Cubs in the World Series.
Traveling through Europe: Sebastian Torero
When Sebastian Torero set off to study abroad in Europe, he wasn’t expecting the Cubs to get to the World Series. Now, an ocean away, he’s found himself in late-night bars and bus stations listening to the game broadcast online
“It’s hard to be missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” Torero said.
Listening to the radio instead of watching the Cubs play on TV reminds him of his early days of Cubs fandom. When his grandma watched him as a child, she was always listening to games.
And when he finally heard the announcer say the Cubs were going to the World Series, it was an emotional moment, he said, as he remembered his grandmother, who never lived to see it happen.
In Ireland: Moira Flahive and Christina Geraghty
Even though they live in Ireland, Moira Flahive and Christina Geraghty are loyal Cubs fans. Loyal enough to compose this Irish ditty: