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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 13:36 GMT
My kind of town: Chicago

The teams:

Baseball: Cubs and White Sox
American football: Bears
Basketball: Bulls
Ice hockey: Blackhawks

Michael Jordan is now plying his trade with the Washington Wizards
His Airness: Michael Jordan

Chicago hosts a full complement of professional franchises, but has not been spoiled for sporting success down the years.

Its baseball teams are winless in the World Series since the Sox prevailed in 1917 and the Stanley Cup has eluded the Blackhawks since 1961.

Michael Jordan's Bulls brought welcome relief in the 1990s however, topping the NBA six times.


The venue:

One of only two remaining 'old-style' ballparks in Major League Baseball, Wrigley Field opened for business at the start of World War I.

Babe Ruth
Babe: Hit famous Wrigley home run in 1932

It has been home to the Chicago Cubs since 1916, but has yet to boast a World Series-winning team, despite the efforts of legends like Ernie Banks, Rogers Hornsby and Greg Maddux.

The custom of allowing fans to keep foul balls started here, as did the practice of throwing back home runs hit by opposing players.

Wrigley Field hosted the famous duel between Jim Vaughn and the Cincinnati Reds' Fred Toney, during which both pitchers went hitless for nine innings.

And, in the 1932 World Series, mercurial New York Yankee slugger, Babe Ruth, is said to have gestured to a spot in the stands moments before belting his "called-shot" out there for a home run.


The legend:

Setting aside peerless basketball hero Jordan (who appears in the Washington DC section), Chicago's favourite son is American football running back Walter Payton.

Walter Payton in Chicago Bears uniform
Sweetness: As great off the field as on it

A Chicago Bear from 1975 to 1987, "Sweetness" delivered a success-starved city the Super Bowl in 1986, backed up by the heavyweight antics of William "Refrigerator" Perry.

That trophy capped a record-breaking career.

Payton rushed for 16,726 NFL yards, more than any other player in history, and was voted to the all-pro team five times.

Applauded for his power, determination and good nature, Payton died of cancer in 1999, plunging the city into widespread mourning.

"Walter was a Chicago icon long before I arrived there. I truly feel we have lost a great man," Jordan said in tribute.


Man about town:

Beaten by Mark McGwire in the famous home-run chase of 1998, the Dominican Republic's Sammy Sosa won the respect of a city and two nations that summer.

Sammy Sosa in action for the Chicago Cubs
Sammy Sosa is a popular figure in the Windy City

The Chicago Cubs outfielder combined power-hitting on the field with smiling good humour off it, to charm baseball fans everywhere.

He has continued that form since, driving in 160 runs and picking up the team's MVP award in 2001.

To emphasise the regard in which he is held in Chicago, Sosa sparked huge public outcry when he fell out with manager Don Baylor over his contract in 2000.

Baylor initially agreed to shop his star player, but fans were so angry about this that he was forced to reconsider and soon resolved his differences with "Slammin' Sammy".

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See also:

03 Oct 01 | Other Sports
26 Sep 01 | Photo Galleries
26 Sep 01 | Other Sports
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