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Northern Illinois Cubs Fans Of Different Ages Are Glued To The World Series

The Chicago Cubs have made it to the World Series, and fans across the nation have been gathering for watch parties.

WNIJ spoke with college fans at Northern Illinois University as well as more-experienced supporters at the Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb.

Ermir Ramadani, Dixon, Ill. (NIU)

How long have you been a Cubs fan?

“Probably as long as I can remember, honestly, I’ve always grown up with my dad and grandpa cheering for the Cubs. It’s really exciting right now.”

What do you wear for each game?

First, you gotta choose a nice shirt. I have a couple of jerseys I choose from. I try not to use the same one because they tend to smell if you don’t wash them [laughs]. I have a Bryant and a Baez jersey. I have a couple of hats, I have a couple of flat bills and then a fishing hat that I really, really like. It has the Cubs logo on it. I mix and match. If I had Cubs pants I would wear Cubs pants every day.”

NIU college student Ermir Ramadani talks about what a World Series win would mean for his family.

Valdet Seferi, DeKalb (NIU)

How long have you been a Cubs fan?

“I’ve been such a big fan, basically since ’03. The whole [Steve] Bartman disappointment was kind of terrible.”

What do you wear for each game?

“If I am feeling pretty special and pretty delicious, then I will wear a nice hat or a nice hat and jersey. I bought a [Jason] Heyward jersey; but he hasn’t been doing too well, so I don’t wear that anymore.”

What would a win mean for your family?

“My dad has been such a big fan for forever and it would mean everything.”

Andrew Sparapani, Sterling, Ill. (NIU)

What would a win mean for your family?

“It would mean the whole world. Honestly, since I was six, that’s been my dream.”

NIU college student Andrew Sparapani talks about the best way to enjoy the game.

What do you wear for each game?

“I wear the same thing for each post-season game. I have a signed Ben Zobrist jersey. I just love it."

Seasoned Fans

College-aged fans may have waited their whole lives to see this moment in sports history, but they have plenty of competition.

Oak Crest Retirement Center fans reflect on making it to the World Series

“They don’t know what a whole life is yet,” said Sally Stevens, a resident of Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb.

Stevens had a front-row seat to a viewing party Tuesday night in the community room.

Credit Jessie Schlacks
Cubs viewing party Oct. 26, 2016

“I am probably not one that could quote all of the statistics of every player, but I have been a longtime fan. Well, when you live at Oak Crest you are older than 20.”

For many Cubs fans, the devotion to the team is contagious. That's the belief of 90-year-old Jane Bastian.

“My husband was a Cub fan. My family is all fans," she said. "Four of my girls were at the game on Saturday night in Chicago.”

She says it has been a long trek back to the World Series.

“The first game that I remember going to was probably in the summer of 1945," Bastian said. "Some friends and I went into Chicago and went to the Cub game and then went out on Lake Michigan for a moonlight cruise.”

She also joined the Cubs viewing party Tuesday night at Oak Crest.  She says she’s known plenty of fans who have gone to great lengths to try to secure a win.

“Several of them have these superstitions. I didn’t have any of that against ‘the Goat’ and all these other things," she said. "Some of my grandkids are coming up some pretty funny superstitions. One of them wasn’t shaving. I don’t know. I am not sure what I am going to see when this is over. I just watch a game at a time.”

Henry Leonard is now a primary Cubs fan, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I’ve been a fan for quite a while, but my wife and I lived in Pittsburgh from 1958 until 1967. We were Pirates fans then," he said. "We bought our first TV when the Pirates went into the World Series, and we saw Bill Mazeroski hit his first home run.”

So he knows the feeling of a big win.

“It feels good."

And it’s a feeling he’s hoping to share.

  • NIU interviews conducted by Public Radio 101 graduates Austin Hansen, Lindsey Park and Kaitlynn Smith. Edited by Jenna Dooley; Oak Crest photos by Jessie Schlacks.