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Cubs, Sox fans having grand old time

Fans having grand old time

CHICAGO -- Wearing the traditional Boston "B" on his hat, Don Sataline, 60, of Berlin, Conn., looked a bit out of place next to the bright white Cubs jersey of his talking companion, Will Mendoza.

Sataline could only nod his head and smile as Mendoza, a Chicago native, recounted the horror of the 2003 playoffs with the Cubs only five outs from making it to the promised land, knowing full well the pain as he relived his own team's failure in the playoffs that same year.

"There is a lot of pain being a Red Sox fan, and I suspect there is being a Cubs fan," Sataline said.

This weekend at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs and Red Sox meet for the first time since 1918, the fans have taken the opportunity to share in each other's heartache over the years.

The one thing that linked Cubs and Red Sox fans together for so long was the sorrow that came from decades of watching the two teams come so close to greatness only to fall short of winning it all.

With the Red Sox now the defending World Series champions, the common thread between the two may no longer be there, but that doesn't mean that Cubs fans are bitter. In fact, that isn't the case at all.

"I think there is more joy, it's like a sign of hope," Mendoza said of Boston's championship. "We'd like to learn some of the secrets that they learned last year, let the fans pass them on to us."

There are plenty of Red Sox fans to get advice from as the Red Sox nation indeed invaded Wrigley Field for the weekend series. Bright red Boston jerseys were scattered throughout the park, and the cheers for the visiting team were as loud, if not louder, than the home crowd.

Not that Cubs fans mind at all. For Red Sox fans, they have been more than welcoming.

Cheri Giffin of Randolph, Mass., made the trip to Chicago with a huge group of other Sox fans and cannot believe the friendliness of the Cubs' fans. Core has made numerous trips to other cities and has not received the same hospitality.

"Everyone has been really friendly, running around yelling 'Nomah!'" Core said with a laugh. "At home, if you are a visitor and wear your team's colors, they barely talk to you. But here they walk up to you on the street and offer to help you if you need to figure out where to go."

That friendliness has created a unique atmosphere around the park. Fans from both teams gather together on the sidewalks, toasting beers to each other and enjoying the first-time experience for many Red Sox fans to take in Wrigley Field.

"I still can't believe that we are actually here," said Ron Pfeifer, 53, of Natick, Mass.

Pfeifer and his son Keith, 23, have made many trips to see their beloved Sox play, but nothing like this type of weekend with such a historic matchup in a place with so much baseball history.

"It's so small and everything is so close," Pfeifer said as he looked around the park with awe. "It's a lot like Fenway. Nothing beats the old parks."

Some connections like the classic old ballparks and a mutual dislike for the Yankees may still exist for the two teams, but with the most compelling tie now missing, that of two franchises that couldn't win it all, Cubs fans hope that they can form a new one as storybook winners.

The sign above one of the buildings near Wrigley may have said it best, "One curse down -- one more to go."

Red Sox fans are hoping that the Cubs are able to do just that, as long as it doesn't come at the expense of their own team.

"I think Cubs were genuinely happy that Red Sox fans were able to celebrate," Giffin said. "And we wish the best for them -- after tomorrow."

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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