This year, former Kokomo High School and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne basketball star Jim “Jimbo” Rayl finally received season tickets for the Chicago Cubs after waiting 12 years.
When he put his name on the waiting list back in 2007, Rayl was around number 93,000 in line. Wanting to split the cost of the tickets, he called up other local Cubs fans, Craig Bone, Chris Gremelspacher, and Jasen Hobson, to divide the 81 home games among.
“I was supposed to get season tickets in 2015, and when it came my turn to get them, they were already sold out,” Rayl said. “It was the Cubs’ mistake, so they gave me a 14-game pack from ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, and this year I got the full season tickets. So, I have four tickets to 81 home games anywhere in the bleachers.”
Rayl’s love for the Cubs began as a child. Before there was cable television, WGN-TV aired in Kokomo, the station that covered the Cubs games. Up until 1988, the games were played in the daytime due to the lack of stadium lights at Wrigley Field. Every game day after getting out of school at Maple Crest Middle School, Rayl would run home instead of taking the bus so he could get home quicker to watch the Cubs play.
Oftentimes, Rayl attends the games with his family or friends, including Purdue basketball head coach Matt Painter. Before every game he attends, Rayl makes sure to order the “Pint O’ Bacon” from Casey Moran’s, Wrigleyville’s premier sports bar.
Similarly to Rayl, Hobson also has the tradition of eating Applewood smoked bacon in the Windy City. Additionally, he began a new tradition of wearing the same Cubs hat to every game he attends and, sometimes, the same clothes that he wore to game seven of the 2016 World Series when the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7, winning the title for the first time since 1908.
“I was lucky enough to go to game seven of the World Series when they won, and what I wore to that game I’ve been wearing to every other game,” Hobson said. “I wear the same hat I wore to that game to every game. Depending on the weather, I’ll wear the same pants and top that I wore to the World Series. That’s the truth. I’ll wear it unless it’s like 90 degrees out because it was a pullover and khaki pants. But yes, I at least wear the same hat that I wore to the World Series. That’s my newest tradition.”
In 2017, at the end of each game, the Cubs began selling the bases used during the game to those in attendance. After Hobson and Rayl attended a game together against the Dodgers that year, Rayl bought a base. Unbeknown this option was available by the majority of the public at this time, the two men jokingly told people they stole it.
“We leave the park, go out to Casey Moran’s, sit down at a table, and we have this base. So, we told people we stole it,” Hobson said. “Everybody wanted a selfie with it. People must have taken 100 to 150 pictures with it. We’re walking down the streets of Chicago, and people are stopping us in the streets asking (about it).”
Together, Rayl, Hobson, Bone, and Gremelspacher plan to watch the Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals in September for the last regular home game of the 2019 season.