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.
Next we speak to Alexander Cardador, aka @Gartzolicious, about his love for the Cubs and his contribution to both the MLB fan community in the UK and the Spanish MLB Community.
When and why did you start following the Cubs?
I started following the Cubs in October 2016. It was my first time in the US, and I stayed with my friend Roger, a Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan. He told me everything about the team and explained why Chicago was going crazy as the Cubbies hosted the Dodgers that night for Game One of something called the NLCS.
He took me around Wrigleyville. I took a picture of the famous Marquee, and even though I didn’t know much about it, I could feel I was in a special place. We watched the game as close to Wrigleyville as we could (it was SO packed). Roger explained the rules very patiently, and then everything started to click for me. I left before the game ended, as I had a long drive ahead of me very early in the morning, and I was already at Roger’s place when all of a sudden, the city erupted. Soon after, I knew why: Miguel Montero had just hit a grand slam!
I remember that on the flight back, the captain was updating us on the Cubs’ performance for the offseason game they played while we crossed the Atlantic, and he would always end the updates with a “Go Cubs”!
After all that, I did my best to catch as many games as possible for the remainder of the season and by the time early November arrived there I was, at 5am, texting Roger with an infinite stream of tears of joy.
What are some of your favourite things about Chicago?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Chicago three times. We’ve already covered the first one, and I think it’s important to note that the other two visits were purely planned to watch the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
September 2017 was my first time at the Friendly Confines, and to this day, it’s still hard to explain how much it meant to me: watching the Cubs live as the current World Champions, Jon Lester pitching, singing the seventh inning stretch… and being able to Fly the W as the Cubs beat the Mets 17-5! Oh, and I took Roger (and his father) to the game, of course.
Then, in 2019, I attended Professor Hendricks´s class against the Pirates. The W flew again after a 14 to 1 win. Am I the only one that sees a trend here? Never mind.
When it comes to the city itself, Chicago has a lot to offer, and I can’t stop talking about it to my friends and family. The Chicago architecture tour is amazing, so I recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. People are very welcoming too, and they take an interest in what brings you to their wonderful city, adding another layer to the experience.
What’s the best thing about being a Cubs fan?
Tough one… how much space have I got?! For me, it’s all about the stories you get to share with fellow Cubbies.
Everyone approaches the game, the tradition, the history itself from a different angle and from a different background, so being able to hear everyone’s path first-hand is fascinating. I do not feel like they are better fans than others; no one’s trying to prove anything to you. We’re here to enjoy the Cubs and share the ride.
Who’s your all-time favourite Cubs player and why?
I have to go with Anthony Rizzo on this one, hands down. His humble approach and hard work paid off big time. I could tell from the beginning how much the city of Chicago and the Cubs organisation meant to him, and it is still so heartbreaking to see him wearing another team’s jersey.
I’ve been watching documentaries, reading articles, books, etc., about all-time Cubs legends, and I appreciate, and I understand why Sandberg, Jenkins, Banks (to name a few) are Cubs royalty, but for me, it’s always going to be number 44.
Tell us about your involvement with the MLB fan community in the UK
I’d say I have one of the easier roles within the UK MLB Fan Community, as I pretty much attend as many meetups as I can… and that’s pretty much it! All jokes aside, I believe it’s important to promote these events as loudly as we can, even if our overall reach is one more person. I do my best to try and bring someone new along to the meetups or events organised by @MLBUKCommunity or to a British baseball/softball game.
I’m also part of the Spanish MLB community, and we’d like to implement ideas and ways of doing things directly from the formula UK fans have created, organising meetups and fan events that we are now so familiar with in the UK. I’m not entirely sure if you really know how much you’re doing to the growth of the game, and having a London Series is an amazing reward for all that hard work and dedication.
What are you most looking forward to about the London Series?
Apart from the obvious reason of seeing my team play in London, I’d say I’m most looking forward to welcoming and making Cubs fans feel like they never left Wrigley Field (as ambitious as that may sound!). This is our time to host such wonderful people, and I’d be incredibly proud if they feel like this is their home away from home.
It pretty much ties up with “the stories you get to share with fellow Cubbies” I was mentioning before, and I’m sure more of them will be created during this London Series.
Is it time to “Play Ball” yet?
Photos: Subject’s own
Sean Guest is the Chicago Cubs correspondent for Bat Flips & Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @SW_Guest