Passion warms Cubs fans on chilly opening day

How many layers to wear?

Whether to share your name with a newspaper reporter and risk the wrath of your boss for ditching work?

Whether one should drink cold beer in 40-degree weather?

These were questions several Cubs fans wrestled with Thursday outside the ballpark on Opening Day.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

The last one required little soul searching.

“Is that a real question?” asked one bemused fan.

A beer vendor on his way into the park just laughed when asked if sales would suffer.

Dan Sewell was one of the few fans, it seemed, who planned to stick to hot chocolate.

Sewell wore three pairs of socks, two hats, three pairs of pants, and five layers under his coat. He arrived at 10 a.m. to soak up Opening Day vibes but spent much of the morning keeping warm inside the McDonald’s across from the ballpark.

“This is football weather,” he said, his enthusiasm unaffected.

The ballhawks — the die-hards who stand outside the ballpark, mitts on hands, hoping to catch a home run — entrenched early Thursday beyond the left-field wall for pre-game batting practice.

Veteran ballhawk Mike Wolf, 41, dreamed of catching a homer on the fly. “I’ve only gotten one on the fly,” he said.

A nearby peanut hawker attempted to convince people the peanuts he was selling were bigger than the ones in the park.

“Opening Day is spring Christmas,” said Jackson Bungart, who flew in from San Francisco for the game.

He was raised a Cubs fan in Highland Park before journeying to the West Coast.

Andrew Tiede, a gas station worker from Thomasboro, just north of Champaign-Urbana, was tickled to be part of it all.

“It is great that for the first time in three years we have our first Opening Day, at the ballpark, with no restrictions. It makes you feel better about the last couple years,” he said.

Yvette Burgos, 39, prayed for a Cubs win before leaving her West Loop home with her two kids, Lukas and Brielle. The trio were first in line to enter the ballpark under the iconic Cubs marquee.

“The excitement warms you up and the adrenaline keeps you warm,” she said, her face peeking out from a winter hood.

Cubs fans who arrived early also faced light rain and ice pellets with winds gusting to 30 mph.

“It’s warm enough that you can enjoy a good baseball game,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jake Petr, who hails from Nebraska.

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