When the Chicago Cubs clinched the National League Pennant for the first time since 1945 on Saturday, people around the country were celebrating.
And up above the country, on her campaign plane, Hillary Clinton was doing the same — with an expression of shock and awe.
Clinton’s long been open about her support for Chicago’s (until now) unlucky team: she was born in the Windy City and raised in suburban Park Ridge; she grew up attending Cubs games; she sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray; she’s thrown out the first pitch at a game; she once wore her Cubs hat on the White House lawn; she’s dined at the Billy Goat Tavern with Ernie Banks; and she invited former right fielder Sammy Sosa to sit next to her at the State of the Union address. Even in the past four years, she’s attended a game at Wrigley Field and signed a man’s Cubs jersey on the campaign trail.
Despite all this, she hasn’t always stayed true to the Cubbie blue. As life took her further away from Illinois, she developed other loyalties, in particular to the New York Yankees, the team that is perhaps the antithesis of the Cubs: they’ve won 27 World Series titles in the 108 years since the Cubs won their last.
Most notably, her Yankees support came out in 1998, when Clinton was campaigning for New York Senator Chuck Schumer and was gifted a Yankees hat. She reportedly said that she was a “lifelong” Yankees fan, in addition to loving her hometown Cubs. The next year, when the World Series champion Yankees came to visit the White House to celebrate their victory, Clinton wore a Yankees cap. She continued to wear Yankees gear into the next year, 2000, as she campaigned for her own New York Senate seat — and critics claimed that Clinton’s Yankees support was just for show, a way to endear her to Empire State voters.
They may have a point: A Google Images search for “Hillary Clinton Yankees” pulls up no photos of Clinton at Yankee Stadium. (What kind of Yankees fan hasn’t been to Yankee Stadium?) A search for “Hillary Clinton Cubs” sees her at Wrigley Field on multiple occasions.
Clinton explained her dual fandom two years ago, according to the Chicago Tribune, saying that the Cubs’ tendency to lose again and again (and again) led her to become a fan of both teams.
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“Once a Cubs fan, always a Cubs fan, but my personality was such that I couldn’t stay hitched only to a losing team,” she said. “I had to search for a team that would counterbalance the experience of losing every single year, so — I hate to say this, and I know you’ll boo me — I became a Yankees fan. I alternated my affections because it was just too hard being a Cubs fan, only being a Cubs fan.”
Though some may accuse her of being a fair-weather Cubs fan, it’s safe to say Clinton’s loyalty for the team runs deep: In a 1996 newspaper column, she wrote of recreating plays from Cubs games with her brothers and watching games on TV with her family.
She wrote: “Even when baseball has tested my patience and allegiance, I’ve always managed to hold onto my soft spot for the Cubs.”
Twenty years later, she’s still got that soft spot: Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said that she’s asked her staff to make time to watch the World Series on the road.
The ultimate move to redeem her in the eyes of Cubs fans, however? Showing up at Wrigley for a game — something she hasn’t ruled out just yet.
For that, Fallon said: “We’ll see.”