Wayne Howard & Thomas Lark Lincoln Herald Staff Writers
Just before this year's World Series was about to get underway, Bill Ward of Stanley, who is a professional photographer (among his many other callings) and who occasionally does photos for the Lincoln Herald among other publications, shared some photos and a bit of history related to his life-long love of the Chicago Cubs.
It turned out that both I (Wayne Howard) and Thomas Lark wrote articles about Bill's fandom; mine was the one that got published because it was done earliest. But Tom's introduction was different--and worth sharing, especially now that the northside nine has finally made it to the pinnacle--the Cubbies are the champs.
Yes, that famous exclamation by the late, great Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Caray is probably on the collective mind of countless Cubs fans right now. And one of them is Bill Ward of Stanley.
A Chicago native, local computer instructor and gospel music quartet singer, Ward said this week that he is overjoyed to see his hometown team playing in the World Series. Named for the now-defunct New York World newspaper, the series annually features the contest between North American baseball’s top two teams to see who will be the best.
Ward’s home is stuffed with innumerable Cubs memorabilia, including a certificate that recognizes his status as a diehard fan and a baseball autographed by the late Ernie Banks, famed as a shortstop and first baseman for the Cubs.
Ward, 53, just may be the Cubs’ biggest fan in North Carolina.
“That’s me!” he enthused. “Go, Cubs, go!”
According to sports historian John Thorn, the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in 108 years. That status as “loveable losers,” as the Cubs have been perennially known, has endeared them to their fans, especially Caray, who was known for his enthusiasm and for singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with Cub fans at Wrigley Field.
So now Bill can shout it just a little louder: Holy cow!
After falling behind in the series (as they had in the playoffs), the Cubs overcame a three games to one deficit, taking three in a row--the last two in Cleveland--to become World Series champs. Even the final game wasn't all celebration: a 5-1 lead later became a 6-3 advantage, but an eighth inning home run tied the score. The Cubs pulled it out in the 10th inning after a rain delay, but after they scored two runs the top of the inning, the Indians made it interesting by cutting the lead to one run in the bottom. While Mother Nature rained on Cleveland's parade, the Cubbies could party "like it's 1908" (the last time they won the Series).
The headline in the Chicago Tribune said "Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!" Writer Paul Sullivan's article (CLICK HERE to read it) summed up the frustrations, the hope, the full scale of emotions.
Down in Stanley, Bill Ward took time to share his thoughts with us after the long-awaited victory:
So many years have passed and with each one there was no suspense, no intensity of the moment, just....."Wait 'til next year!" Though games had been enjoyed and cheers were uplifted, there were very few heart-pounding moments, not too many anyway. But this year...
The season was awesome. You KNEW they were going to pull out wins that they hadn't in the past. The come-from-behind, bottom of the ninth wins. The games that looked like they were lost. In years past, you shook your head and waited for the "slide," for the "curse" to set in, you could feel it, you could sense it. Not this year. Not 2016.
I told my wife I wasn't sure this 53-year-old heart could take it. I wasn't used to actually thinking.....no....knowing, that they had the chance to win it all. Down 2-1 against the Dodgers, I found myself reassuring fellow Cubs fans. Down 3-1 (really?! Down 3-1 in the World Series!?) to the Cleveland Indians, I sent the same messages. "They got this." "They are very capable of a three game sweep." I believed it. I REALLY, for once in 53 years, BELIEVED that they, my Cubbies could do it. And they did!
What a rush of emotions. When they beat the Dodgers, all I could really do was cry. In the days leading up to and for every day in the World Series I would find myself telling myself out loud "The Cubs are in the World Series" just to hear myself say it. Now, at 2 AM on Thursday morning, November 3rd 2016.....I'm just in shock. I can't decide whether to run through the house and yell like a kid or just sit here in awe at all the replays and interviews. There are so many more things in life that are important: marriage, children, friends, family.....salvation......but this is special. This is at the top of my list of important "things." Thanks Ernie, Billy, Ryne, Dawson, Sosa, all the great Cubs over the years. Thanks 2016 Chicago Cubs for a tremendous season full of great memories and thrills. Thanks to all my friends and family for well wishes and congratulations for "MY" Cubbies. I'm going to relish this. I'm going to enjoy this. I'm going to shout this one from the rooftops every day from now till.....well, till my end. Hey! Hey! Holy Cow! Go Cubs Go!
For fans of both the Cubs and Indians, these are two ball teams that appear likely to make it back to the Series again over the next few years. Cleveland got to celebrate earlier this year when the Cavaliers came from behind to win the NBA championship. Now it's the Cubs fans' turn. They've waited long enough. Holy cow! They finally won it!