Attend an MLB meet-up in the UK and you’re likely to meet a whole bunch of Cubs fans. Maybe it’s because of their 2016 World Series win, or their UK-friendly 1.20pm starts, or perhaps it’s because of beautiful, historic Wrigley Field.
Whatever the reason, the Cubs are well-represented over here. And as they’ll soon be heading across the Atlantic for the 2023 London Series, we thought we’d speak to some UK Cubs fans to find out why they started following the team, who their all-time favourite player is, what they’re most looking forward to about seeing the Cubs play here in the UK, and more.
First up, it’s Mike Ivory, founder of the UK Cubs Fans Twitter account.
When and why did you start following the Cubs?
It was 2017 (so just after the World Series win to end the drought, of course!) and me and the wife were in Mexico during the Easter break. The hotel we were staying in had a sports bar and so I spent quite a bit of time in there. One night, they had baseball on, and it was the day the Cubs got their rings before playing the Dodgers. There were a number of Cubs fans watching on TV and as I’m a huge cricket fan I thought I would give it a go. The Cubs won, and I was hooked! I watched a game a night for the rest of the holiday, always keeping an eye on the Cubs. Six years later and my fandom has grown to a point where I cannot remember a time when baseball wasn’t a part of my life!
You visited Chicago for the first time last year. How was it?
Incr-. Amaz-. Phenome-. Nope, there isn’t a word to sum up just how perfect the trip was. First of all, Wrigley Field… I mean, how does it get better? The perfect mix of modern meets traditional, and the neighbourhood it sits in was just buzzing. I mean, all the time! Second, the people. Just incredible, so welcoming and kind; it really does make the trip when the people you’re with are the best type of people. Shoutout to Tina, Ron, Cody, Kacy and everyone else we met up with for making it truly special. Finally, the city. Absolutely beautiful. The skyline is something else, and if I have some advice for anyone going, please do the river tour; the architecture is absolutely stunning.
What’s the best thing about being a Cubs fan?
Difficult question! Wrigley and Wrigleyville are amazing. The fanbase is so awesome, and the social media team were great when we were over! Just a great team to follow.
Who’s your all-time favourite Cubs player and why?
Anthony Rizzo. He’s just an all-round great guy and an elite first baseman. When we traded half our team in 2021, losing a few of those guys stung. But losing Riz really hurt. I still can’t get used to him in Yankees pinstripes. He should have been a Cub for life.
Why did you start the UK Cubs fans Twitter account?
So, as mentioned, I started following the Cubs in 2017 after a trip to Mexico. When I got home, I went through Twitter to find other UK baseball accounts to follow to speak to other people who followed the sport (Batflips and Nerds was one of the first baseball accounts I followed!). In 2017, baseball was nowhere near as popular as it is now, and after speaking to a few people, I noticed there was a UK Cubs account which wasn’t too active. I decided to make a separate account to really engage with other Cubs followers globally. Over the course of the first three years, it slowly grew to a point where I needed some support to go over some of the games I missed. I spoke to my friend Joe and asked if he was willing to join me on the page. He did, and for a number of years, we grew the page together in the form of analysis, podcasts, and just generally having a great laugh. I miss him tremendously, and the page would not be anywhere near where it is now without him.
Tell us about your involvement with the MLB fan community in the UK
I liaise with our fanbase and the other team accounts and have even hosted an MLB fan event in Birmingham, which was a great success. Rachel is part of the MLB UK Community and, as such, gets more involved than I do!
What are you most looking forward to about the London Series?
Apart from seeing the Cubs in my home country?!?! I think the whole weekend is going to be awesome. We know so many people attending from both the US and closer to home that we really can’t wait to meet some of our followers in person and just talk all things Cubs! I mean a Cody Bellinger walk off in one of the games wouldn’t go amiss either 😉 GO CUBS!
Photo: Subject’s own
Sean Guest is the Chicago Cubs correspondent for Bat Flips & Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @SW_Guest