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Mesa catches Cubs fever after historical World Series win

From left: Mesa City Manager Chris Brady, Mayor John Giles and Assistant City Manager Kari Kent wave the Chicago Cubs W flag in downtown Mesa to celebrate last night’s World Series win. (Photo by Melissa Randazzo)

It took 108 years to get here so Cubs fans deserve to celebrate their team winning the 2016 World Series last night. And as the franchise’s spring training home, Mesa is all a buzz today as fans here are celebrating just as much as those in Chicago.

“Having lived less than a mile from the Cubs spring training home for 20 years, the Cubs have a piece of my heart,” resident Elaine Cota said last night. “Last summer I lost one of my best friends who was a huge Cubs fan. I have never watched an entire World Series, but this year that changed. I have cried happy tears for the Cubs win several times, tonight big tears.”

Cota’s late friend, Vicki Serna, was also a Mesa resident and her family gathered together last night in her honor.

“I celebrate this win for my sister, Vicki, who was a longtime Cubs fan. This win brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart because she passed away in July, yet I know… she knows,” longtime Mesa resident Chris Corn said.

Mesa native Victoria Romero in front of the green apple adorned statue of Harry Caray outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago last weekend. She made it in to Game 3. (Photo by Victoria Romero)
Mesa native Victoria Romero in front of the green apple adorned statue of Harry Caray outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago last weekend. She made it in to Game 3. (Photo by Victoria Romero)

Then there’s our Mesa native, Victoria Romero, whom MyNewsMesa.com followed on her adventures to make it in to Game 3 at Wrigley Field in Chicago last weekend.

“My heart is just so full,” Romero said this morning. “I have received so many texts, Facebook posts, phone calls… it was very overwhelming. We all cried; friends, family. My Cubs are World Champs, and I was able to be a part of that. It truly is a dream come true. A couple of people I met standing in line (all day to get in to Game 3 last Friday at Wrigley Field) have reached out and that itself is, well, there are no words. We all became family. So many hugs, tears and laughter, my thoughts are everywhere, and all that keeps replaying is that last catch by Rizzo and Eddie Veder singing… ‘Someday we’ll go all the way!’”

Even city officials were celebrating last night’s historic win.

“It was a perfect dramatic ending to the season! Truthfully, we commented during spring training that the Cubs were hitting an unusual number of balls out of the park. Even back in March we could tell this was a really good ball team,” Mayor John Giles said last night. “They have had a storybook season that they fully earned and deserve. We are glad Mesa can claim the Cubs as our own.”

Sally Harrison, president and chief executive officer of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and newest Hohokam, said this morning: “My breathing has finally slowed down to what most would find an acceptable rate!

“Working for the chamber and with the Hohokams, I’ve now spent quite a bit of time volunteering at Sloan Park during spring training. The fans of the Chicago Cubs have to be some of the best anywhere. They come to Mesa for spring training and many stay for the entire month,” Harrison continued. “It’s great to see so many return game after game and as an usher, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many fans. They ask about new restaurants in Mesa and where they should visit after the game. There’s no doubt that after this win every game will be sold out and Mesa will be a very busy place next March.”

Megan Sterling, vice president of the East Valley Partnership, one of the leading voices for business throughout our region, based in Mesa, said last night: “As a Mesa resident, I’m so proud to be a Cubs fan, World Series or not. The Cubs are a tremendous asset to our community and have such a legacy in Mesa, and seeing them win a series (and Game 7) like that was epic. Definitely one for the history books.”

Sterling’s late husband, Peter, lost his four-year-long battle with cancer on July 8. He was Mesa Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer in January of 2011, after the retirement of Charlie Deaton. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in March of 2012.

“It was hard to watch and not think of Peter… he was an Anaheim Angels fan by birth but loved his adopted hometown Cubs more than anything,” she said. “He would be absolutely thrilled… not entirely sure how it all works but hopefully they were airing the game in heaven.”

Cubs history in Mesa

The Cubs’ run to the 2016 World Series championship began at Sloan Park in Mesa where they led the Cactus League in attendance. The team has called Mesa their spring training home for more than 50 years.

Major league baseball first came to Mesa for spring training in 1952, when the Cubs set up camp at Rendezvous Park. That park was razed in 1976, replaced by a new stadium at Hohokam Park. That facility, in turn, was demolished in 1996, and was replaced by a new and enlarged stadium and training facility which opened in February 1997 in northwest Mesa. The name Hohokam is a derivative from a Pima Indian word for all used up or those who are gone.

In 2014 Cubs fans witnessed the opening of Sloan Park, 2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Mesa, and they better start buying their 2017 spring training tickets now because the place sells out fast. Now, after Joe Maddon guided the Cubs to baseball’s best record during the regular season and the 2016 World Series championship, there’s no doubt tickets will be hard to come by in Mesa come spring.

In his 16 years as the voice of the Cubs, Harry Caray had plenty of famous sayings and was a big presence in Mesa before he passed away in February 1998. This season, though, one of Caray’s 1991 quotes resonated with Chicago fans: “Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series.”

That quote prompted Cubs fans to put green apples on Caray’s statue outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago during the series run. Sluggo’s sports bar was opened in Mesa by the late Cubs broadcaster and his partner in the booth, Steve Stone, in 1987. The sports bar has gone through a few names en route to its current one, Diamond’s Sports Grille, 161 N. Centennial Way. The ties to the Cubs, who are immortalized in murals on the walls of this bar are still strong in Mesa and it was crowded with fans celebrating last night.

In celebration of the Chicago Cubs clinching the World Series championship last night, Mayor Giles just proclaimed Nov. 7 as 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs Day.

“The Chicago Cubs had a tremendous season and truly earned this World Series championship,” he said today. “Congratulations to the entire organization, we are excited to see you at Sloan Park this spring.”

Wear Cubs blue on Monday to show appreciation for the World Champion Cubs. Post your photos at your favorite location in Mesa with #CubsDayMesa for a chance to win two tickets to a Cubs spring training game.

The World Champion Cubs will begin defending their crown in Mesa next February when the 2017 Cactus League Spring Training season begins.

– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at kmixer@mynewsmesa.com.

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