The las 100 years of Cubs teams and the current Fighting Illini baseball team have more in common than one would think. For 76-year-old Cubs fan Gerry Shandler, he appreciates what a bad baseball team looks like, which explains his latest move to fandom.
“The Cubs been pretty successful for the last two seasons and they won that whole World Series thing last November,” laughed Shandler during a sparsely-attended game on Tuesday. “But I like going to these ballgames because it reminds me of classic Cubs baseball.
The Fighting Illini Baseball team has been struggling this season, currently holding a dismal 15-19 record. This new trend of lifelong Cubs fans coming to Fighting Illini baseball games has started after one Cubs fan witnessed what she called “a familiar sight.”
“So it’s 6-3, bottom of the eighth,” said Gemma Fredrichs, a 71-year-old from Glen Ellyn. “Illini are winning. They bring in their closer, who–get this–gives up five runs in the matter of six batters! Iowa ended up winning 8-6.”
Josh Whitman, UIUC Athletic Director, says there are plans in the works to cater directly to these new fans, including a Harry Caray impersonator game, $8 beers available at the concession stands and large urine troughs available in the restrooms for fans.
“Anything we can do to make them comfortable while they’re here can turn into money left to the university in their will,” said Whitman.
Whether or not these fans will be here to stay will be dependent on the success of the Illini, but Shandler prefers Illini Field over the alternative.
“As long as we’re not at Guaranteed Rate Field, I’m happy,” said Shandler.