While Chase Field in Phoenix was filled with Arizona Diamondbacks fans, Hohokam Stadium in Mesa was adorned with Chicago Cubs banners, logos, pictures, and a few more Diamondbacks fans.
The two worlds converged Wednesday night to watch the opening game of the National League Division Series between the two teams at Hohokam Stadium, spring training home of the Cubs.
Harvey Raupp, 61, who was born in Illinois but moved to Mesa in 1952, was one of several fans with mixed emotions.
“I’m a Cubs fan,” Raupp said, “as long as they’re not playing the D-Backs.”
Raupp said even though he is rooting for the Diamondbacks,
he is happy to be sharing the Mesa stadium with Cubs fans.
“I went to Wrigley Field wearing a D-Backs jersey,” Raupp said, adding that Chicago fans are “real good fans” because no one gave him any trouble about his wardrobe.
Stadium director Dave Dunne said similar viewing parties were held in 2003, the last time the Cubs made the playoffs.
Although Dunne attended Arizona State University and has lived in Arizona for 11 years, he said he’s also a Cubs fan.
“Growing up in Chicago,” he said, “it’s hard not to be a Cubs fan.”
The event, put on by Mesa, the Mesa HoHoKams and the Mesa Visitors and Convention Bureau, gave fans the opportunity to watch the game, free of charge, on a 30-foot screen constructed along the third base line. Free pizza and Cub’s “believe” wristbands also were handed out.
Although the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, their fans remain loyal.
Scott Andersen, 51, a Mesa resident since 1971, said “the Cubs are still my team because they don’t have a title yet.”
Ryan Jones, 31, of Mesa provided the screen that was used to view the game.
“It’s a great event,” Jones said, “a chance for people to get together and enjoy the camaraderie of the Cubs history.”
Despite the amicable environment, competition was still the name of the game.
George Chahoud, 26, of Tempe said the Diamondbacks may have an advantage: “They’re younger and they could do it.”
They did. Diamondbacks won 3-1.
The event that drew approximately 150, ended with some happy, some sad, and some somewhere down the middle.
Raupp said his daughter, who was born in Arizona, is a Cubs fan through and through.
She “yells at me and calls me a traitor,” Raupp said.
Although the Cubs have had a long history of losing in heart-breaking clinches, earning them the “lovable losers” name, Raupp said he doesn’t believe in the team’s so-called curse.
“I played baseball all my life ... I’ve seen guys who won’t step on the chalk line or who always wear the same socks, but in the end, the better team will win.”