The 1991 season was mediocre one for the Chicago Cubs. There wasn't much to celebrate in a 77-83 campaign, and the doldrums were creeping in at Wrigley Field once again.
Harry Caray, the legendary Chicago announcer, signed off from his final WGN broadcast of the year by imploring Cubs fans to keep the faith.
"Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series."
Someday is today. The Cubs hosted their first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945 on Friday night.
And to commemorate the monumental moment, Cubs fans adorned Caray's statue with green apples.
A lot of Cubs fans waited a long time for a night like Friday. Here's how they — and the neighborhood around Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville — commemorated and celebrated the occasion:
Mary has worked at Wrigley Field for 33 years — 13 as a beer vendor before moving to a Captain Morgan stand "a few years back."
Mary doesn't have a view of the field from her stand, but she does have a TV and a ton of loyal, regular customers who will not buy their $18 cocktails from anyone else.
Mary knew that the Cubs were going to make the World Series at roughly the midpoint of this season.
She knew it deep down and no one could have convinced her otherwise — there's a told-you-so attitude to her tone.
"God said we have to win one."
She told them so.
The area around the Wrigley Field marquee has been obstructing traffic for the last week. There aren't many people looking at it when they take their photos, though.
The quirky guy with the T-shirt store
Strange Cargo Tees was always a bit of a misfit in the Wrigleyville area — it specializes in custom T-shirts, mostly of the novelty variety.
But when the Cubs started winning, owner Jay Schwartz, a Detroit native and Tigers fan, knew that he had to get on the bandwagon.
As soon as the Cubs clinched the pennant, the shirts started flying off the shelves.
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," Schwartz said. "It's a beautiful thing, this World Series."
The Cubs playoffs have brought so many people into Wrigleyville for games that the Chicago Police Department has needed to increase its presence during the World Series.
Here, officers are briefed on how to deal with drunken fans — seriously — by their commanding officer.
Friday was Mike and Kathy Drummer's 27th wedding anniversary, and Mike had a plan to make it special by scoring tickets to Game 3 of the World Series.
There's one box office, attached to Wrigley Field but not technically part of the facility, that Mike said always has tickets.
"I think Ricketts owns this one — this is where the tickets go when Stubhub shuts down."
Mike has been able to get seats to three of the last four games at this box office, but he really needs to make it happen for Game 3 — he has no backup plan if they don't get tickets to this game.
Sure enough, there are still two 500-level tickets available after the scalpers, who have been hawking the windows for hours, get their hands on all they can.
"It's not the diamond I wanted for $3,000, but it's pretty cool," Kathy said.
It's another kind of diamond — and rarer — for sure.
A die-hard Cubs fan, Lancaster said that he's been in a dark depression since 2003 — one he just pulled out of when the Cubs won the pennant.
Despite living in Spring Grove, Illinois — a town that touches the Wisconsin border — Lancaster said he wasn't going to be anywhere else on this Friday night.
The train and bus ride to the front entrance of the park took more than two hours. Lancaster isn't sure he'll make the train home — he was prepared to sleep outside the stadium.
"That's the beauty of the onesie, man — doubles as a pillow."
A father and son
Baseball is a game of fathers and sons, and for the Scholtens, there's no better place to bond than at Game 3 of the World Series.
Both moved out of the Chicago area years ago — Steve (on the left) is in Ohio and Brad moved to Orlando in 2011, just as he was pulled off the Cubs' season-ticket waiting list he had been on since 2000, when he was in high school.
He purchased the tickets — they're bleacher seats — despite the move, making weekend trips north to see as many games as possible — it was a bold move vindicated by this World Series trip.
"We've been waiting our whole lives for this."
Behind the two tickets are photos of grandpas, grandmas, fathers, in-laws, and the yet to be born — Brad found out that he's going to be a father earlier this week — that's the ultrasound on the right. He told his dad Friday.
"They're all going in with us."
If it's a Cubs home game, you can expect to see David Delaware out on Waveland, looking to catch deep homers from Cubs that go over the left-field bleachers and out of the park.
He's a ballhawk, and there aren't a lot of his kind left anymore.
The Cubs put up large video scoreboards in both outfields a few years back, diminishing the chance a ball gets out of the yard — literally. Before that, they added roughly 20-feet of overhang on the street.
The Cubs don't take live batting practice much anymore, either, Delaware says.
But the wind is blowing out to left — hard, and the Cubs are taking BP.
"Today is a special day."
He doesn't know who hit the ball that hit his softball mitt (a massive advantage), then the curb, only to roll back to his now-prone body. But he does know that despite having dozens, if not hundreds of baseballs, this is the most prized one yet.
"You think of your relatives and all the people that couldn't be here to see this day. But then you're so excited. You can't believe this day is here."
When Mary Sedor came to America in 1968 from Czechoslovakia, she didn't know a thing about baseball. She learned it from going to her son Tom's Little League games.
It didn't take long before she was hooked on the sport.
The Sedors lived on the South Side but fell for the Cubs because they couldn't afford cable and the Cubs came through on over-the-air WGN.
Tom eventually bought Cubs season tickets — and a DeLorean. (Long story.)
Mary is 77 and has the energy of a pre-teen and Friday night, she was fired up for her first World Series game, talking smack to anyone who would engage her.
"We're going to win it tonight. I can feel it."
The ticket guys
If you didn't want to wait in the off-the-books box office attached to the stadium or go on a second-hand ticket website, you needed to deal with Emilio.
Set up the southeast corner or Addison and Clark, Emilio and his crew — officially licensed brokers, they assure everyone — were wheeling and dealing.
Here, Emilio negotiates an $11,000, four-ticket deal with a middle-man — Marty Tirrell — who is buying for clients who "don't care what it costs to get in."
Pat has been doing this for "a long time", and you would know it immediately from his suffer-no-fools attitude.
He's going to move the ticket for the price he's asking — this isn't' his first rodeo, partner.
Many Cubs fans loiter around the corner, waiting for the prices to drop as the game starts — that's what happens in the regular season, after all. A bleacher seat went for $2,500 cash moments before first pitch — the prices don't go down. There's no supply — the crew on the corner of Addison and Clark are the only viable game in town.
But there's nothing regular about this game.
The prices don't go down until the fourth inning — the last seat goes for $800, and that was a consignment ticket from a broker up the street, looking to unload the last of their inventory before first pitch.
Customers, equipped with totally unsafe quantities of cash, don't have much bargaining power with the market so stressed.
These men came prepared with a fat wad of hundreds to get two seats in the upper deck, behind home plate in the third inning. Cost: $2,500.
There are other brokers — or scalpers, the line is hard to decide — who infringe on the corner of Clark and Addison. They're scared away. But Emilio, Pat, and their crew are constantly on the phone, buying tickets from other brokers in the area and moving them for a cut or profit.
Every conversation about price is done mouth-to-ear, mafia-style, and section numbers of tickets are always yelled.
Thousands of dollars in cash changes hands over the course of the night — one member of the crew estimates $100,000 (100 dimes) to use their parlance. That doesn't include the credit card transactions and I Owe Yous between the brokers, moving inventory before first pitch.
By the end of the night, the brokers are running out of cash, they've made so many deals. This is a good thing.
"I'm going to have to take $20,000 out of the bank tomorrow," Pat says.
"I've run through $70k in two days," Emilio adds.
Then, with a laugh: "I can't even imagine doing the numbers on this thing."
Everyone can agree on this: It's the most profitable day in Wrigleyville history.
The incredible prices to get into the game were actually a value compared to the cost of sitting in a Wrigleyville bar to watch the game.
Some bars in the neighborhood — directly south of Wrigley Field — were charging $250 per person for cover (between $50 and $100 before the game started, if you weren't staying) and $750 to reserve a table for four.
Realizing that there was no way to watch the game in Wrigleyville without taking out a mortgage, many opted to just watch the game through the windows of various establishments.
This is Millie — she's a goat.
He owner, Joe Roetter, keeps her as a pet in Grand Haven, Michigan, and as he's a lifelong Cubs fan, he figured it was a good opportunity to make some cash.
Tips are encouraged to take a picture with the goat, who is eight years old and a bit shy.
At one point in the sixth inning, Roetter and Millie have to move down the street — the goat is scaring the police dogs.
Fewer than 200 feet from the left-field entrance to the ballpark, a group of Cubs fans huddle around a television placed on a basement porch. The lights illuminating the building are from the field.
These Cubs fans are directly in the line of fire should someone hit a home run out of the park and onto Waveland Ave. Ultimately, that doesn't happen.
The sassy bars
The folks at Murphy's Bleachers, directly behind the center-field entrance and a beer's toss away from the FOX television set, have a little fun at Pete Rose's expense.
Loosely translated, the Latin phrase means "Let's go whelps" with whelps being a word close enough to young offspring of animals, like bear cubs.
The sign looks into Wrigley Field from the Lakeview Baseball Club on Sheffield, a rooftop bar.
The AC on the sign stands for Anno Catuli, meaning "Year of the Cubs".
The numbers recently changed. The first two digits represent when the Cubs last won their division. The second pair of digits represent when the Cubs last won the pennant.
The final digits, well, you know what they represent.
The Cubs' 1-0 loss in Game 3 was just another reminder that it's been a long time since the Cubs have won the World Series and while they're close, they haven't won anything quite yet.
But "as sure as God made green apples," the Cubs will play in the World Series tomorrow.