Title leaves Cubs fans on top of the World

Championship -- and joy it brought to Chicago faithful -- among best stories of 2016

Title leaves Cubs fans on top of the World

CHICAGO -- John Daly was 9 years old when he got a ticket to Game 3 of the 1935 World Series between the Cubs and Tigers at Wrigley Field. He had enough money for either a program or a hot dog, and opted for the snack.

"He always regretted getting the hot dog but kept the ticket, and we have it today," said John's son, Tom.

At the start of the Cubs' 2016 season, John Daly was 90 and living in Phoenix, and Tom, who lives in Orlando, Fla., bought an MLB television package so his father could watch every game. But after the National League Championship Series, John's health began to fade. Fourteen family members gathered in his hospital room to watch Games 5-7 of the World Series between the Cubs and the Indians.

"We smuggled in hot dogs, chips, peanuts ..." Tom Daly said. "'There was no way we were going to lose Game 7 -- at least, that's what he kept telling me."

Tom Daly

The Cubs did win Game 7 -- in dramatic fashion, beating the Indians, 8-7, in 10 innings.

John Daly died four days later.

"Thanks, Cubbies, for the greatest send-off a man could have," Tom Daly said.

The Cubs' first World Series championship since 1908 was euphoric and a relief, tearful and joyful for their legions of fans. It was a magical experience that sparked a downtown parade and rally for an exuberant 5 million people and their "W" flags.

Pulse of the Postseason

While the World Series trophy continues its goosebump tour, here's a look at a few Cubs fans and what those seven World Series games meant to them.

Wyomania

Mark Edwards grew up in Chicago and developed a love of the Cubs from his grandfather, John Orchard, who lived a few miles from Wrigley. Edwards' first Cubs game was July 23, 1988, when he was 8 years old, and he was able to get an autograph from his favorite player, Andre Dawson. Even better, Dawson hit a home run in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Padres.

Now a mortgage loan processor in Gillette, Wyo., Edwards started saving money when he was 13 just in case the Cubs got to the World Series. Every bonus he received, every tax refund and more went into the reserve. In 2003, he presumed the Cubs had the NLCS locked up against the Marlins and dipped into the fund, but then Chicago lost Game 6 and the series. In '08, the Cubs went 0-3 against the Dodgers in the NL Division Series, and Edwards used the funds to buy a new car.

This year, Edwards could finally use the money for a ticket to Game 3 at Wrigley Field. He watched Game 4 in Chicago with his grandfather, now 90, and then he returned home to see Game 5.

"It was probably better that way because when I left Chicago, they started winning," Edwards said.

Cubs fans on title significance

Iowa Cubs

Don McLeese, 66, is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Iowa but lives in Des Moines, and he is a regular at the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa games. He's been a dedicated Cubs fan since 1955.

"I've never experienced the heightened tension that I felt throughout [Game 5]," said McLeese, who drove in for the game at Wrigley, which the Cubs won, 3-2. "I was sure the Cubs would need more runs, that the game wouldn't end with the score as it was. But it did. I really have nothing else to compare it to."

McLeese has attended other Cubs postseason games -- and even other World Series games -- but seeing his favorite team win at home was a thrill that he and thousands of fans thought they'd never witness in their lifetime.

"I can die happy now, my life fulfilled. My work here is done," McLeese said. "And I'll never forget that exquisite tension of attending what turned out to be the most important game in Wrigley Field history."

Brotherly love

For Ned Colletti, the World Series games at Wrigley provided a chance to fulfill a promise made 71 years ago. Colletti's Uncle Frank was 11 years old on Oct. 7, 1945, when the Cubs played the Tigers in Game 5 of the World Series. Frank's three brothers said he was too young to take the streetcar and go to the game, promising the youngster he would go the next time.

That was the last World Series played at Wrigley before this year. So Ned Colletti fulfilled his father's promise, taking Uncle Frank, now 82, to Games 3-5 at Wrigley against the Indians. Ned worked for the Cubs as the media relations director and was there in 1984, when the team lost to the Padres in the NLCS. He joined the Giants' front office as assistant general manager, and he was later the Dodgers' GM. Now a special advisor to the Dodgers, Ned was happy to take care of Uncle Frank.

There were Cubs fans who flew in from around the world to be in Wrigleyville. They had to be there.

Must C: Cubs win World Series

Brick by brick

Generations of fans paid homage to departed family members who missed the historic event by writing their names and heartfelt messages on the brick walls outside Wrigley Field.

The spontaneous celebration was in full swing when the World Series ended. The players saw it upon their return to Chicago. Anthony Rizzo's father, John, wrote an "R.I.P." message to family on one of the bricks.

Carrie Muskat
Carrie Muskat

"I thought that was coolest thing of the whole postseason, aside from stuff on the field," Anthony Rizzo said of the artistic salute. "People writing in memory of family and friends, and all the wishes -- it was awesome.

"You see that, and we know as players how much it meant to the fans, but I don't think we knew just how much. I hope it's a tradition that goes on. Everyone was just happy."

That may be the best way to sum up the Cubs' championship.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.