Cubs fans converge on Mesa for trophy rally

Maddon receives key to city; supporters travel from all over country

Cubs fans converge on Mesa for trophy rally

MESA, Ariz. -- Debbie Palmer is a Cubs fan who lives in San Francisco. When she heard that the World Series trophy was coming to Mesa, she realized that was as far west as it would be. So she left home at 1:20 a.m. PT and drove 13 hours straight so she could get in line to get a photo with the trophy.

"I thought it was worth the risk," Palmer said. "It's amazing what caffeine will do."

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The Cubs brought their World Series trophy to Mesa for a rally on Friday, and Palmer was one of a few fans who stood in line overnight for the chance to get a picture. By the time the rally started at noon MT, 500 folks, nearly all dressed in Cubs gear, were gathered outside Sloan Park. They cheered as a video was played with 2016 season highlights and when Joe Maddon and some of the players took the stage. Kyle Schwarber carried the trophy out.

Kyle Schwarber speaks at the rally after bringing out the Cubs' World Series trophy.

Mesa Mayor John Giles presented Maddon with a key to the city, which was appropriate considering the wild ride the Cubs' manager has been on. He lived in Mesa from 1981-2001, and worked at his first instructional league camp at Fitch Park.

"I cut my teeth here -- this is where I learned my trade," Maddon said.

His two children, Joseph and Sarah, and their families call Mesa home.

"I have a real, real strong connection to all of this and where it began and where it is now, it's quite a distance," Maddon said.

Seeing their favorite Cubs players, as well as Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, was a highlight, but many came for the chance to pose with the trophy. Loretta Schwenn, 62, and her son, Carl Kubicke, 32, were first in line, arriving at 2 p.m. MT on Thursday to make sure they were part of the first 1,000 fans to have the opportunity to take a photo with the trophy. Before 8 a.m., the line stretched well down a sidewalk, with most fans bundled up for the unusually cool morning temperatures.

"We are crazy," said Schwenn, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago but lives in Tucson. "But we're Cubs fans."

Ashley Epping, 30, who just moved to Arizona, and Amanda Pletsch, 26, were about 25 deep in the line Friday. They met via social media when Pletsch was trying to find someone to wait in line with her. It turns out, they both grew up in Putnam County, Ill., and Pletsch worked for Epping's dad.

"None of my friends wanted to go," Pletsch said. "The Cubs brought us together."

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.