Alaskan Cub superfans react to their team’s historic victory

Last night, an estimated 40 million people tuned in to game seven of the World Series. What they saw was history in the making: the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland, 8-7 in 10 innings to win their first title since before World War I.

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The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images/AFP)
The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating Cleveland, 8-7, in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images/AFP)

Megan Baldino’s living room last night was riotous as she and her friends and family watched the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908.

Baldino is a former reporter for KTUU in Anchorage. She now works for GCI. She’s also a lifelong Cubs fan, from Chicago. Like most fans of the team, Baldino has been waiting for this moment her entire life.

“It’s truly unbelievable. It feels surreal,” Baldino said. “I mean, I keep kind of pinching myself and crying and saying, ‘Wow! This is really happening. We just won the World Series.’ And in a game like that. It was outrageous for any team to have won that game, let alone the Cubs with the history we have. It’s just unbelievable. We’re overjoyed.”

Another longtime Cubs Fan, Matt Nevala is a former sports writer for the Anchorage Daily News. Nevala said the moment of the big win was an emotional one.

“The first anecdotal thing I can think of that was pretty funny was my 8-year-old daughter saying out loud that she’d never seen her dad cry before so that pretty much sums up the deal,” Nevala said. “Just the combination of disbelief and pure joy at the same time, I suppose.”

The game was particularly nerve wracking for Cubs fans when, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Cleveland scored three runs to tie the game at 6-6 going into the ninth, and later, an extra 10th inning.

The suspense gave Nevala mixed emotions.

“There was this weird, kind of calm to it of, ‘OK. Let’s see what happens here.’ They either bag it and go down horribly, or they find a way,” Nevala recalled.

For Megan Baldino, the up-and down nature of that moment was crystal clear.

“You know, we went to the depths of despair when they tied it up. And when that happened, I had a bunch of people at my house last night and I did not sit the whole time,” Baldino said. “Someone said, ‘Do you have a Fitbit on? ‘Cause you are just pacing.’ And so you go to that place again, ‘don’t let it slip away.’ But then when Zobrist did what he did, we were flying off the walls.”

Baldino is referencing a hit from Ben Zobrist in the 10th inning that scored a run for the Cubs. Miguel Montero scored another hit shortly after to increase the Cubs lead to two.

“And then, to that final Bryant to Rizzo, the final out, I mean we just went ballistic. We went absolutely ballistic,” Baldino said.

It’s been 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series. That’s a lot of history passing by without a baseball championship in the Windy City.

“If you saw the broadcast, last night where they’re saying Mark Twain was 71 or 73 in 1908,  Haley’s comet has come past not once, but twice in that time,” Matt Nevala said. “You know, it’s part of what you see. All these pieces when they’re talking to celebrities and it’s a part of this lifelong commitment you make to that franchise and to that organization and to the game itself.”

Even though it took more than 100 years for the Cubs to win it all, many fans believe that 2016 is just the beginning for the team.

“I’m overjoyed,” Megan Baldino said. “This feeling’s not gonna go away from me and let me remind many people that Chicago is a city with a great history of teams becoming dominant. The Bulls with Michael Jordan. The Blackhawks recently. So I am supremely confident that the Cubs will continue to be, at least for the next couple years, one of the strongest teams in baseball.”

For Matt Nevala, it’s the end of a journey that started when he was just a boy.

“This all started for me from the fact that I played backyard baseball with the same group of buddies when we were 7, 8 9, 10 years old,” Nevala said. “You’d spend all day playing in the backyard playing,  and then the Cubs would come on in that afternoon back in Michigan where I was from. And it kinda becomes part of what makes your DNA and what makes your insides work, if you will. This is the ultimate payoff.”

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Wesley is a reporter for Alaska Public Media, covering primarily city government and Anchorage life. He previously worked at Alaska Public Media as a web editor, producer and education reporter before a two-year stint in Kotzebue, AK as News Director for KOTZ-AM.

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