It will be a night of tension and hope for baseball fans in Chicago when the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers play Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.
If the Cubs win, they will move on to the World Series to face the American League Champion Cleveland Indians. It will be a step closer to fulfilling a wish of a faithful fan, 101-year-old Virginia Wood.
Wearing a Cubs T-shirt and surrounded by family, Wood was ready for baseball Thursday night when the Cubs and Dodgers took to the field. Her wheelchair not far from the television, the former physical education teacher knew what she wanted to see from her team.
"I just want to be sure they get the first run," Wood says. "I really do. I think it makes a difference."
And the Chicago Cubs did not disappoint — scoring in the first inning.
Wood attended her first Cubs game at Chicago's Wrigley Field in 1924. She was 10 years old. As an adult, she would go as often as she could, especially with friends after work on "Ladies Day" when they could attend for free.
"When people didn't stay for the whole game, we'd all move ourselves down a little closer to the front as far as we could go," Wood says.
Wood saw lots of games but no championships. The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908, but Wood dismisses the idea of a curse holding the Cubs back. She says she knew a championship would come eventually, and she's convinced this is the year.
"Oh, I'm counting on them going all the way, absolutely," she says.
Wood says in the past, the Cubs didn't have all the parts they needed — good pitching and hitting at the same time. This year, they have Joe Maddon. Wood says Maddon is an excellent manager directing a very talented team.
"They've got all young kids now," Wood says. "It's wonderful. They're enthusiastic. They hustle a lot. They go after everything, and I think that's what the difference is."
If the Cubs beat the Dodgers, they'll play the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. Wood's son, Gary, says his mother hopes the Cubs grant her a favorite wish — a World Series title.
"She'll be 102 next month," he says. "That's what she wants for her birthday."
"Oh yeah, sure, I'd like to have that," Wood says. "Good birthday present. Oh yeah, that's the best."
But first, there's a game or two left before that can happen, and Wood says she'll be watching and cheering on her team.