By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
When readers of The News Report get this week’s issue, the World Series will be over.
And one of two things will have happened.
Chicago Cubs fans will have celebrated and danced in the streets of the Windy City for the first time in over a century.
Or the curse of the billy goat will live on.
The lovable Cubbies will have either snapped a 108-year drought since they last won a World Series championship in 1908 or 2016 will be a season that ended in disappointment.
One of the most storied franchises in the Major Leagues will finally be sitting atop baseball’s pinnacle or yet another campaign will end with their loyal, die-hard fans once again lamenting “wait till next year.”
And if the Cubs do bring home the championship, maybe – just maybe – Steve Bartman can come out of hiding.
This has been a season of promise and the highest of expectations. The mindset has pretty much been “World Series Title or Bust.” The Cubs were almost universally regarded as having the best roster in baseball. And they didn’t disappoint by taking control, dominating the National League Central from the opening day of the season and recording a Major League-best 103 wins.
Echoes of Jack Brickhouse’s enthusiastic “Hey, Hey” or Harry Carey’s famous “Holy Cow” and “Cubs Win” rang throughout the ball park at the corner of Addison and Sheffield.
Cubbie blue apparel and those white flags with the blue W were everywhere. And as the wins continued to pile up, the large throng of fans just got bigger and more confident and more outspoken.
Although it hasn’t happened much, this is the second year in a row Cub fans owned bragging rights over their nemesis to the south – the St. Louis Cardinals. Even though the Redbirds had more success against their arch rivals this season than most teams, they were still on the outside looking in when it came to playoff time – something the fans in blue didn’t hesitate to point out.
But that’s OK. That’s what makes rivalries special. People like to speculate about the best rivalries in baseball – the Red Sox-Yankees or the Dodgers-Giants being near the top. But the Cubs-Cards rivalry is just about as special as it gets.
It’s nothing to see good friends walking down the street, one with a blue Cubs hat on and the other wearing a red hat with STL across the top. Co-workers razz each other throughout the season. There are emails, texts and Facebook messages continually.
The rivalry is seen at its most intense at the stadiums. It’s nothing to see a large crowd of Cub fans decked out in blue and crowded into Busch Stadium or a sea of red packed into the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
But it’s not just for friends and workers. There are many, many families firmly entrenched in this rivalry. Husbands and wives, moms and dads, brothers and sisters somehow live under the same roof but cheer for opposite sides.
You hear things like “mixed marriage” or “a house divided.” It’s actually not that uncommon.
But again, that’s what makes it fun.
One such example is Norbert and Bernice Lohman, of Teutopolis. Norbert is 84 years old and bleeds Cardinal red. Bernice just turned 79 and is one of those die-hard Cub fans.
And it was this way when they got married 55 years ago. They have both been rooting for their teams since they were just kids.
“I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was a little girl,” Bernice admitted. “We used to listen to the games on the radio.”
Norbert chose the Cardinals, even though his dad was a Cubs fan.
“I remember listening to Harry Carey and Joe Garagiola on the radio,” Norbert said. “My favorite players were Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and Harvey Haddix. We’ve had a lot of good ballplayers.”
Bernice, who grew up in the Bishop Creek area, didn’t get to go to Wrigley Field as a child, but Norbert remembers going to a couple games at old Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. His family lived in Green Creek.
When it comes to the entire current family, Bernice is in the minority. The couple has 6 children and 19 grandchildren. All but two are Cardinal fans.
“Yeah, it’s just me and one of the sons-in-law,” she noted. “But two of the others are cheering for the Cubs in the World Series.”
Obviously, Bernice is hoping the Cubs bring home the championship this year.
“I’ve really enjoyed this season,” she acknowledged. “A lot of people at work (3Z Printing) are Cubs fans. A few of them have jumped on the bandwagon, but that’s probably normal. There’s been more talk about the Cubs this year, except from the Cardinal fans. They haven’t had as much to say.”
A banner flies outside their home on East Walnut Street that reads “A House Divided.”
“The family gave us that a couple years ago,” Norbert said. “It definitely causes some conversation.”
The couple followed the World Series games, but admitted they had trouble sitting three to four hours.
“But we kept up on the scores,” Bernice quickly noted.
Norbert said he wasn’t cheering for the Cubs, “but I wouldn’t cry about it if they won.”
“It’s all in fun,” Bernice added. “But I do hope we go all the way this year.”