CHICAGO –Local cafes and bars are packed, and excited fans talk in the streets about how the Cubs are finally going to the World Series. Cubs fever is everywhere. But this isn’t Wrigleyville; it’s Belize, 2,800 miles away from Clark and Addison.
Belize may be home to the biggest base of Cubs fans outside of the Windy City. Why? It all started back when legendary broadcaster Jack Brickhouse was still calling the games. After Belize gained its independence from Britain, a wealthy couple started a TV station, but they forgot to buy some programming to go with it. So instead they found a way to pirate the WGN TV signal from Chicago.
“They sort of pirated the signal and broadcast it to homes in Belize,” explains freelance writer Adam Rosen. Rosen uncovered the strange story and says the team has many ties to the country.
“when television first came in 1981, one of the only two channels ion the air was locked into Chicago`s WGN around the clock. That channel showed every Cubs game – all 162 of them,” recalled a local news anchor.
In the winter of 1985, the Cubs sent outfielder Gary Matthews on a goodwill mission to Belize when the Cubs captured the pennant.
“More people turned out to see Gary Matthews than turned out to see Queen Elizabeth the next year,” Rosen said. He said it got the people in Belize to think of the Cubs as “a friendly franchise that paid attention to them and cared about them.”
Here in the Chicago area, Belizean transplants like Sylvestre Castellanos are watching the world series with excitement
“99 percent of Belizeans are Cubs fans!” said Sylvestre Castellanos, who now lives in Chicago.
And that’s how the team from the central division, won the hearts of central america.
An anchor in Belize said the people there feel, “an almost spiritual connection to the Cubbies – a connection which, for many, continues to this day.”