SPRINGFIELD — It took an extraordinary event to do it, but for a brief time Wednesday, feuding Democrats and Republicans and House and Senate members were brought together by one thing: the appearance in the Illinois House chambers of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series trophy.
The World Series win, the first for the Cubs since 1908, even got some people thinking about the possibility of a state budget agreement, something that hasn’t happened in two years.
“Grant us the courage to learn that all of us are capable of creating our own miracles if we have the will to work together, the humility necessary to put the needs of others before our own. Grant us the vision to see what can be what can be as opposed to what has always been,” said Rabbi Michael Siegel of the Anshe Emet Synagogue of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, who delivered the daily House invocation.
“Who knows, maybe this august body will be realistic enough to engage what would feel like a true miracle, a budget for the state of Illinois.”
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat whose district includes Wrigley Field, mused that Cubs general manager Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon might encourage lawmakers to “bridge our differences and get to a budget.”
Republican state Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon said that the Cubs’ model of teamwork should encourage lawmakers.
“Without any one of those contributions, the win wouldn’t have been there. That message can resonate in Springfield with all of us as well,” said Demmer. “We win together. We win when we stand together.”
The House chambers were decorated for the occasion with banners and “W” flags. The decorations, House staffers said, were from the city of Chicago and not paid for with state funds.
World Series trophies won by the Cardinals and White Sox also have been to the legislative chambers, said Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, a White Sox fan.
“I think this is probably a little bigger scale because it’s something that hasn’t happened in a while,” Brown said.
Rep. Camile Lilly, D-Chicago, told her colleagues she wanted to speak for her 102-year-old grandmother who went to her first Cubs game at the age of 100.
“Her second time at the park was at 102,” said Lilly. “Spending two years coaching the team, she had to get back to the park. She wants to say I am proud of each and every one of us who stood by my Cubs for 108 years, of which I have stood by for 102.”
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said he lived the farthest south of any member of the House Cubs caucus.
Butler noted that Ben Zobrist, who played last year with the Cubs and the previous year with the Kansas City Royals — both of which won the World Series — grew up a Cardinals fan.
“He’s now won two world titles with your two greatest enemies,” Butler jibed.
Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, said that looking at the Cubs trophy on the House floor was “the honor of a lifetime.”
“Thank you for making us Cubs fans proud to be wearing our hats on the House floor,” he said to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.
Rep. Patty Bellock, R-Westmont, a descendant of the Comiskey family that owned the White Sox for more than 50 years, praised the Cubs ownership.
“It’s been an honor to celebrate this with you,” she said to Ricketts. “The love of the game of baseball is what it’s all about.”
Another Sox fan, Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said “this has been a particularly difficult time,” and that “we haven’t taken it very well,” but he congratulated the Cubs’ front office.
“They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the South Side seems to have taken your approach and modeled the future of their organization,” he said of the rebuilding organization.
“I watched every single game last year,” Zalewski said, “and as much as I wanted to hate the Chicago Cubs being in the World Series, it was riveting baseball.”
Ricketts told lawmakers the highlight of the year for him was the enormous celebratory parade in Chicago after the World Series win.
“I think it was the largest gathering of truly happy people of all time,” he said.
Not everyone was so gracious.
Rep. Steven Reick a Republican from Woodstock who said he grew up a White Sox and Cardinals fan, congratulated the Cubs and said, “Hope to see you again in 108 years.”