Rosen: The strange story of why Belize is full of Chicago Cubs fans

From Adam Rosen at Atlas Obscura on October 26, 2016:

Less than four years after gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the Central American nation of Belize notched a smaller, yet somehow lasting, triumph in 1985. That winter, the Chicago Cubs sent their star outfielder Gary Matthews, Sr., to visit the country, which is often claimed to be the most Cubs-friendly land outside the Windy City. Matthews’s visit was the culmination of a love affair that had begun in 1981, the year when Cubs games began being broadcast in the country.

The relationship has continued to this day. Right now many Belizeans at home and inside the United States are cheering on the Cubs, who have returned to the World Series for the first time since 1945 and are attempting to break a championship drought that stretches all the way back to the first Roosevelt administration, 1908. The team finished the 2016 season with the best record in baseball, wracking up 103 wins (and 58 losses), an achievement that put them a whopping 17.5 games ahead of their closest division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Melanie Walker, who was born in Belize and lives in the Los Angeles area, is watching the Cubs’ championship run with nostalgia. “Of course I’m a Cubs fan,” she says. The 42-year-old remembers watching the team play during her childhood. Her husband has been taping the Cubs’ playoff games while she works at the Little Belize restaurant in Inglewood, California. He’s a Dodgers fan, but she’s confident the Cubs are going to win it all this year.

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Originally published: October 27, 2016. Last Updated: October 27, 2016.