TN Smokies expect boost from Cubs win

Chicago Cubs baseball fans nationwide are celebrating after their team won the World Series early Thursday morning.

A rain delay and an extra inning made for high drama and a game that stretched past midnight.

"It's made for a storybook. It's made for a movie," longtime Cubs fan and Knox County communications director Michael Grider said Thursday afternoon. "I think that there's a little bit of a Cubs fan in everybody, if for no other reason than everybody kind of wants to, to a certain degree, root for the underdog."

He, like many baseball fans, was a little groggy heading into work Thursday.

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"I was thinking later I should've worn my Cubs hat today, but I was lucky to get out of the house with a tie on," Grider said.

For East Tennesseans, he said, the whole series was extra special to watch, with a total of 13 former players for the Cubs AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies.

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"I think that's really neat-- just being able to say, you know, 'I saw him,' or, 'I saw them play together,'" Grider said.

Smokies director of broadcasting Mick Gillispie agrees.

"10 years I've been the broadcaster for the Smokies, and it just so happens to be the 10 years that they've been the affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, so we've seen a lot of these players come through our system," he said.

12 former Smokies played for the Cubs in the World Series. One played for the Cleveland Indians.

Smokies president and COO Chris Allen said watching the World Series, at times, felt like a who's-who of former players.

"You look last night, you see Báez hit a homerun - he played here a few years ago. Kris Bryant, one of the stars of the entire World Series and possibly the most valuable player in the National League this year," Allen said. "I mean, it's so amazing to see these guys. Albert Almora, you know, it just goes on and on. Contreras."

Smokies Stadium in Sevier County saw record-breaking attendance this year, and with the Cubs' World Series win, team leaders say they anticipate large crowds again next season.

"I think it's going to help us locally maybe sell a few more season tickets, get more people out here," Allen said, "because, if you think about it, the folks that came out the last two years, they got to see some of the best baseball players in the world."

They're players who helped break the Cubs' losing streak of more than a century.

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(© 2016 WBIR)


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