MARYSVILLE – Art Olson has seen 16 presidents take office and dozens of teams go to the World Series.
But the 93-year-old Chicago Cubs fan has not seen his team take home the crown.
That long wait is over.
On Wednesday night, the Cubs ended a 108-year series curse since 1908 by winning the World Series, beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in Game 7.
Olson is among those senior citizens who have waited the longest to experience the crowning moment, when so many decades went by without a pennant that they might never see their beloved North Siders reach the top of the mountain.
As Olson watched the last pitch thrown from his recliner, his reaction was “Thank you, God, for the win.”
The day after the champions were crowned, the Marysville YMCA threw a pennant party for Olson to celebrate his long wait – they knew he was an ultimate Cubs fan. About 50 people greeted him with cheers in the lobby, and tables complete with Chicago-style pizza, cupcakes with Cub logo colors, sparkling cider, team flags and more.
Accompanied by his son, Ken, Olson proudly wore his Cub colors. It’s not as easy to get around any more, so he now walks with a Louisville Slugger bat converted into a cane, which was signed by several Seattle Mariners from his days in guest services for home games in the Kingdome.
Olson has been a Cubs fan for life. He was born and raised five miles from Wrigley Field, and attended a high school that is now a shuttle parking lot for home games.
“I always had a soft spot for the White Sox, too, but in Chicago, you’re either one or the other,” he said.
In the 1940s, Olson actually spent time as a pitcher in the Cubs farm system, until he was honorably discharged from his Army anti-aircraft battalion job after contracting malaria in New Guinea.
Olson, his wife and family moved to Marysville in 1979. He kept his loyalty for the Cubs going by watching games whenever they were televised.
Even when the Cubs were down 3-1 in the series against the Indians, he got a little heartburn, but he never doubted. He said they proved themselves as playoff contenders last year, and this year they grabbed first place in the National League Central Division, stayed firmly in the top spot, and never let up.
YMCA Member Services director Amanda Knight and Youth and Family coordinator Allison Hoot led the party plans. Olson has made quite an impression in his 21 years as a member.
“Art is family,” Knight said. “He’s everything the Y stands for. He doesn’t just come for the workout. He talks with people.”
Hoot added, “The Y is his home away from home.”
Olson thanked the Y staff for the celebration. “I was shocked and surprised and grateful.”