CHICAGO — One of the longest-tenured members of the Cubs made sure one of his biggest fans at Wrigley Field knew he was appreciated at the final regular season home game of 2023.
In fact, it’s becoming a bit of a tradition for Ian Happ at the end of an 81-game campaign at the Friendly Confines.
On Sunday, before the Cubs’ victory over the Rockies, the outfielder presented bleachers season ticket holder Jeff Gorski with a $100 bill along with a signed ball that had a message of thanks for his support during the last six months.
(Courtesy: Jeff Gorski)
“Thanks for the support! You guys are the best in all of baseball,” is what Happ wrote on the baseball that was left for Gorski, who goes by the nickname “Bleacher Jeff” on social media, writing to have a good time on him Sunday.
“It means a lot,” said Gorski to WGN News Now on Tuesday. “It’s a nice gesture. You don’t see a lot of players doing that in any sport, anywhere, where they just say ‘Hey, man, I see you coming out here, I recognize you, have fun on me today.’
“It’s a testament to his character and what kind of person he is and his empathy towards us where he can feel that.”
(Courtesy: Jeff Gorski)
Gorski took the money and spent it on a few drinks for himself at the ballpark along with Nisei Lounge, a popular bar near the ballpark on North Sheffield Avenue.
It’s not the first time that Happ has reached out to show his appreciation for Gorski along with others in the left field bleachers. The Chicago resident, who is often in the same spot for home games, was given a shoutout by Happ when he was mic’d up during a game and speaking with Marquee Sports Network broadcasters in 2022.
At the end of that campaign, Happ showed support to Gorski and others in the left field bleachers.
“We had a tradition last year when he threw me a ball in the ninth inning there and he had a nice little note on it, thanking us and everybody out there,” said Gorski, who has been a bleacher season ticket holder since 2013 and has been in his regular spot in the front row near where they wall curves out in left.
Happ has built a bond with fans in the bleachers over the past two years when he’s been the Cubs’ regular right fielder. The 2015 first round pick of the Cubs had a strong finish in 2021 before having a breakout season in 2022 when he was a National League All-Star and won a Gold Glove in left field.
“The big thing that was nice to watch was his determination in coming back from not doing so well at the beginning there in that summer of ’21 and really coming around and being great at the end through ’22 and having an All-Star season, Gold Glove, and have another good season on top of that this year,” said Gorski of Happ. “It’s been really amazing to just watch the journey and be there along way, too.
“So I think he kinda understands that we’ve been there with him. He sees the same faces every day out there and he recognizes them and it’s nice to see.”
Larry Hawley spoke more with Gorski about Happ’s gesture on WGN News Now, and you can watch that in the video above.