Theo Epstein thanks Cubs fans for ‘special’ Cubs experience
Theo Epstein doesn’t remember the exact date, but he vividly remembers the experience.
He was walking home from Wrigley Field after a game in 2015 — before the Cubs became a perennial playoff threat — and let himself be taken away by the dialogues of some fans as they walked home.
“I could eavesdrop on the conversations and overhear what they were saying and the fans were just so excited about our young players, so optimistic about the future, couldn’t wait for what lay ahead,” Epstein said Tuesday after announcing he is stepping down as the Cubs president of baseball operations.
The excitement that was buzzing about Wrigleyville that day may as well have been like the anticipation a child feels on Christmas morning or expectant parents feel as the due date of their first-born nears.
“It was such a special time,” Epstein recalled.
Truly, it was.
The horizon was nearing; the fruits of Epstein and the Cubs’ front office were beginning to bud and only he and the passionate Cubs fans knew what lay ahead. Epstein had promised to turn the Cubs into annual players in October and he warned early on that it was going to be a tough road. But that winding road was nearing its destination.
It was those moments that built an everlasting bond between Epstein and Cubs fans.
“It felt like the lines between fans and front office members and players were blurred because we were all part of this club that was in on a secret that we all kinda knew what was about to happen maybe before the rest of the baseball world did,” Epstein said.
That is what made Epstein appreciate the connection the Cubs and their fans have.
“To our fans – thank you for the support, the deep connection, everything you bring to the table that makes the Cubs experience so special and so resonant,” Epstein said. “It really is different here and that’s thanks to you guys.”
As he reflected on his nine years on Chicago’s North Side, Epstein couldn’t stop emphasizing the impact of the fans and the uniqueness of Cubs’ fandom. Sure, he had brought the Cubs their much-awaited World Series title, but this one was different than the one he had won in Boston, which also came with its own long wait.
“I really feel like this journey is something we’ve taken on together,” Esptein said. “Getting dropped into this situation 9 years ago, feeling like a stranger [to] Chicago, the Cubs, Cubs fans all being foreign to me and now I look nine years later and I feel like it’s in my blood, too.
“I don’t think that would’ve been possible elsewhere. It’s the closeness of the connection with the fans as you go through the Cubs experience, that stands out the most to me.”
That’s why Epstein won’t be too far away from Wrigley Field. He’ll be able to eavesdrop on any fan conversations and enjoy the games without the stress of running the team.
“Still look forward to going to games at Wrigley all together as a family,” Epstein said. “We’ll be fans now.
“When we do sit at the seats in Wrigley and look out and watch the Cubs play and sit amongst the fans here in Chicago, it will feel like home and that’s because of how special and meaningful the last nine years have been. Thanks for everything.”
Who knows, maybe new Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer will overhear Epstein’s thoughts as a fan on his way home, too.
“As soon as we’re through this thing, every time a Cubs fan bumps into me at a bar, I’m buying from here forward,” Epstein said. “Till Jed wins a World Series, then it’s on him.”