In March, Chicago native and Sun City resident Kate Harris fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams when she threw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs Cactus League game in Mesa.
But Harris, who turned 100 a month later, was even more excited about the possibility that 2016 would finally be the year she’d witness the Cubs win a World Series championship – something that last happened eight years before she was born.
"I've been waiting for years -- not for this, but for the fact that the Cubs are in such a position that I really am excited," Harris said moments after throwing that pitch.
Seven months later, it’s really happening: The Cubs are in the World Series for the first time since 1945, when Harris was just 29 years old.
“My neighbors must have heard me, I swear,” Harris said of the screaming she did in her assisted living facility when the Cubs beat the Dodgers on Saturday to punch their ticket to the World Series. “I’m in my own home, freestanding, not that close to them, but they certainly must have heard me.
“My whole family, my family’s friends -- everybody keeps calling me and giving me support. They’re working very hard for me.”
Harris was born in Chicago in 1916, the same year the Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field. Her love affair with the Cubs began at age 12 when she contracted scarlet fever and was confined to her bed for an extended period, with the radio as her only source of entertainment.
“After I was 12 years old and I got attached, we used to go to the games not regularly but quite frequently when I could,” she said. “I was working and I got married and had a child, but nobody was as gung ho as I was. Even my husband wasn’t as interested in the Cubs as I was.”
Harris moved to Texas for a short time before she finally settled down in the Valley in 1985. She still attends Cubs games when she’s able, during Spring Training and when they play the Diamondbacks in Phoenix – though she isn’t able to go to as many games as she used to.
“You need transportation and you need to be able to (go) physically,” she said. “My husband passed away… when he was living, we went to I would say as many games as we could, which wasn’t many.”
Harris said she “vaguely” remembers the last time the Cubs were in the Series – “my memory is not that great anymore,” she said. But while World Series tickets are insanely expensive, she said two of her grandchildren offered to fly her to Chicago and buy her a ticket to a World Series game.
“I said, ‘Dear, I wish I could physically accept all of that,’” she said. “But isn’t that nice of them? That’s the way my kids all feel for me.”
Harris had been in reasonably good health until several days ago, when she began losing feeling in one of her legs. This has led to multiple doctor visits this week, but she said there’s no way she’s going to miss any moment of the World Series, alongside her grandson who comes over to watch with her.
Harris said one of the keys to long life is positive thinking, which has certainly come in handy as a Cubs fan.
“There’s nothing I don’t see a bright side to. There’s a bright side to everything,” she said. “I was very positive in my thinking. I expected them to go. We had a lot of young blood coming into the team, and they’re wonderful. I’m mad for (Addison) Russell and I’m mad for (Kris) Bryant and I’m mad for (Anthony) Rizzo. They’re just great.
“I am expecting them to win one way or another. I don’t know how many games it’ll take. I know nothing about the Cleveland Indians, and I understand they’ve been waiting for a long time, too. I can’t help them. Sorry. They’re the enemy today."
Harris said her positive thinking and passion for the Cubs has helped her establish lifelong friendships.
“I have made friends from just being a fan. My friends aren’t into football or baseball or anything, but they love my enthusiasm and my feelings, and they support me,” she said. “If you’re doing something good, they’ll join you, and they’ve done that.”
On Friday, the Cubs head to Wrigley Field for Game 3 of the World Series after splitting the first two games in Cleveland. If all goes Harris' way, the Cubs could be celebrating a world title as soon as Sunday evening.
And if that happens, her neighbors had better prepare for a lot more noise.
“I can only say that the Cubs deserve to win for us, for the people, because the people have been rooting for them ardently,” she said.
“Put your money on the Cubs. They’re gonna do it. I’m just counting on them. That’s all I can tell you.”