NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- As one of four Glenbrook North baseball players to make the majors, Jason Kipnis has earned exalted status at his alma mater.
"He has such a tremendous following here, he worked hard to get where he’s at, so we're not surprised," said Kipnis' high school baseball coach Barry Ruppert.
Ruppert watched Kipnis earn All-State and Central Suburban League player of the year honors as a Spartan, but now that Kipnis has reached the biggest stage of his career as the second baseman for the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, his former coach is conflicted.
"A lot of people ask me, 'Who are you going to root for?'" Ruppert said. "I hope he goes 11-for-12 but not at the expense of the Cubs winning the World Series."
White Sox fan Justin Weiner doesn’t have to worry about breaking allegiances.
"I’m a Chicago guy, people may say root for the Cubs, but one of my best friends is playing on other side, so I have to root for the Tribe," Weiner said.
The two grew up together, even playing next to one another in the GBN outfield. When Weiner worked for WGN Radio years ago, he had what he calls a “Sandlot” moment getting to interview Kipnis while playing for the Indians. Now he’ll have another pinch-me moment watching one of his closest friends in the World Series.
"Our whole group of friends have been making the trek to Cleveland and we kind of had to say to ourselves this is actually happening," Weiner said. "To grow up with him and realize he’s realizing his dream is pretty remarkable."
So while the Cubs hope to bring the North Side its first World Series in 108 years, not everyone in this north suburban community is ready for the Cubs to end their drought just yet.
"It's funny because a lot of my friends are Cubs fans. Four of them are season ticket holders," Weiner added. "And they’ve almost disavowed their allegiance to the Cubs and are cheering for the Indians. How many people can say they know someone personally on an MLB team with a chance to win the World Series? Not many. Jason's whole family are Cubs fans but this is their brother, their son. How do you not cheer for Indians?"