2016-10-29 / Sports

Dream day: World Series at Wrigley for 1st time since 1945

By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer

CHICAGO — Dressed in dark, furry bear suits from head to toe, Lisa Burton and Brian Robinson stood on Waveland Avenue, waiting to walk up to the rooftop of Beyond the Ivy and watch the first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years.

Burton, 39, and Robinson, 43, said they paid a total of $7,500 for a pair of tickets to take in all three games against Cleveland from across the street this weekend. The engaged couple made its way to Chicago’s North Side from Birmingham, Alabama.

“It felt like a bargain,” Robinson said. “I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was about 6 years old. I was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. You had two choices: You could watch the Braves or the Cubs. But Harry Caray was so much more fun to watch, even when the Cubs stunk, which was most of the time. He was the reason why I became a Cubs fan.”

When the World Series last came to Wrigley Field, a Game 7 loss to Detroit on Oct. 10, 1945, the major leagues were all-white, the championship was played in the daytime, television had not yet come to the Fall Classic and soldiers were coming home from World War II.

Debbie Manfredi, of suburban Algonquin, stood on Kenmore Avenue trying to snag balls off the bat of right-handed hitters during batting practice. The 49-year-old, wearing a Cubs jersey signed by Ron Santo, has had season tickets in the lower deck behind third base for five years – after 11 years spent on the waiting list.

“I started believing last year, and this year you just felt it from the beginning. You just knew,” Debbie Manfredi said.

Hours before first pitch, the line to get into Murphy’s Bleachers snaked down Sheffield Avenue toward Addison Street, which runs along the first-base side of the ballpark. Statues of Ron Santo and Billy Williams had new jerseys and red roses, and Caray’s had a yellow apple in one hand.

“It’s how baseball is supposed to be,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, who played for the 1986 Cubs. “When I was here, they didn’t have the new clubhouse, so it was fun being at the ballpark until it was time to shower or go to the bathroom or something.”

Wrigley hosted Series games in 1929, ‘32, ‘35, ‘38 and ‘45, with the Cubs losing their first five and 11 of 13 overall entering this year.

“This is so enveloping. The fact that the bleachers come all the way around,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I drive down Clark every day from downtown, and as you get closer, you see all the venues that support all this, and also the people milling around. Anyplace I’ve been, I haven’t seen that with any ballpark to that level. So its enormity in its entirety, it’s just different.”

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