By Marty Carlino
Tickets for World Series games at Wrigley Field topped $3,000, but fans at Fitzgerald’s got the bleachers, the atmosphere and a very big screen for the price of a beer.
After a 71-year drought, the Chicago Cubs returned to play in Major League Baseball’s fall classic, the World Series. Cubs fans throughout the state of Illinois have come out in large crowds to support their team at their favorite establishments.
In Berwyn, bars and restaurants throughout the city have cherished the Cubs successful postseason run. Several have even pulled out all the stops to accommodate Cubs fans and large crowds.
One of Berwyn’s most popular establishments, Fitzgerald’s, typically a music venue, set up a unique atmosphere for fans to take in the Cubs playoff games.
The restaurant is equipped with an outdoor patio. The patio, typically used for music performances, transformed into the club’s version of the friendly confines of Wrigley Field for playoff games.
The space boasted a 14 feet wide, 8-foot-tall television screen, that displayed all the games in high definition, a seating section elevated in the back area painted the signature dark green color of Wrigley Field’s ivy with correct measurements on each corner and a live band that serenaded fans with the seventh inning stretch and “Go Cubs Go” during commercial breaks.
The restaurant also provided fans with an indoor, heated tent that was equipped with the same screen. Fans who were turned off by the chilly October temperatures took in the game from inside. Regardless of indoors or out, fans got to take in the games in a unique atmosphere.
“We turned our yard into the friendly confines,” said Bill Fitzgerald, one of Fitzgerald’s owner. “We’ve went all out for the baseball games and tried to present it as nice as a way as we could.”
According to Fitzgerald, the restaurant took in big crowds for all the games.
“The World Series games have been spectacular,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve been pretty packed every night; I’d say around 200-300 people a night.”
After dropping two straight games, and falling to a 3-1 deficit, fans still flocked to Fitzgerald’s on Sunday, Oct. 30 to cheer on the Cubs.
Fans were still as optimistic as ever and were all happy to watch the game at Fitzgerald’s. “I love it,” said Keith Huizinga, an Oak Park resident. “I think the Fitzgerald’s did a great job. It’s an awesome environment to watch the game. They’ve invested a lot in making this a great place to watch the games, that’s why I’m here.”
Many fans even felt like they were at Wrigley. “It feels just like being at Wrigley,” said Adam Samano a resident of neighboring Cicero. “It feels like I’m out there in the bleachers.”
Fitzgerald’s even attracted international fans. Davide Marzoradi, a fan originally from Italy, now an Oak Park resident, was excited it see the unique atmosphere. “In Italy, baseball is not so important,” Marzoradi said. “Here it is. It’s nice to see the atmosphere of American people and an American game.”
Sunday’s game started off in thrilling fashion, as Cubs’ starting pitcher Jon Lester struck out the side in the first inning, which incited loud cheers from the near 200 fans in attendance.
The building erupted in the top of the fourth inning when Cubs all-star Kris Bryant belted a leadoff homerun to tie the game at one. The Cubs added on two more runs that inning and never relinquished the lead again. Fans in attendance jumped in joy, hugged strangers and sang “Go Cubs Go” on their way out of Fitzgerald’s.
Fitzgerald’s was not the only establishment that enjoyed large crowd for the Cubs games. One of the city’s most popular pizza places, Paisans Pizzeria & Bar also drew big crowds.
“We’ve been seeing seas of blue,” said Javier Garcia, a manager at the restaurant. “The Cubs fans have come out in the masses. We definitely have seen a significant rise of Cubs fan for the World Series.”