The Associated PressCHICAGO (AP) — Finally, a banner moment at Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs raised their 2016 World Series championship flag Monday night, delighting a raucous crowd that waited through a long rain delay for a moment more than a century in the making.
Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams raised banners for the franchise’s two previous championships and last year’s NL pennant. First baseman Anthony Rizzo had the initial honors for the drought-busting title flag before the rest of the Cubs took their turn.
Rizzo then brought the championship trophy out when he returned to the field from under the bleachers, drawing more cheers prior to Chicago’s home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers — which was delayed by rain for nearly two hours.
He capped an emotional night with a game-ending single off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 victory.
Rizzo was stunned when he found out he would raise the banner first and carry the trophy onto the field.
“Just an honor for me, for my family, to be part of the city for the really bad times when the new ownership got here,” he said. “A lot of emotions. I was fighting back tears a lot.”
The pregame celebration was a moment generations of fans never got to witness. Even more wondered if they would ever get the chance.
But that all changed when the Cubs beat the Indians in a thrilling Game 7 at Cleveland last fall for their first championship since 1908. Wrigley Field opened in 1914 but the “Lovable Losers” didn’t move in until 1916.
“The best part about last year was we all got to be part of something bigger than ourselves,” said president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the architect of a top-to-bottom overhaul that ended years of heartbreak and frustration on Chicago’s North Side.