By Robert Novotny, under special arrangement with the ABL
Name: Dallas Kilponen
From: Kensington in Sydney, New South Wales
Supports in ABL: Sydney Blue Sox
Supports in MLB: Chicago Cubs
Currently Holding MLB World Series Tickets: No
Backstory: Melissa Issacson of ESPN.com recently did a profile on Dallas. Notably, the piece featured a beautiful photo of Kilponen holding up the Cubs “W” flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The headlines alternately called him Australia’s “Biggest Cubs Fan” and its “Most Devoted Cubs Fan.” If you went by height, the former is easily true. But as for the latter, Dallas concurs that any of those Cub fans recently profiled here, and others, would share that honour. Kilponen notes that he is thrilled that the article has connected him to so many other Chicago Cubs supporters in Australia.
At over 1.9m (6’3”), Mr Kilponen is an imposing figure. But soon enough he smiles with a twinkle in his eye that is infectious. He’s the guy you want to settle back with to talk about baseball over a beer, or even the state of the world. He’s also the guy you want watching your back, if after that drink, you have to walk home through a sketchy neighbourhood. Throw in the fact that for around twenty-five years he was a photojournalist for The Sydney Morning Herald, covering event like the Olympics, NRL, AFL, and the MLB Opening Series in Sydney…well you have a real Aussie all-rounder to spend some time with.
And spend time together we did, on our feet continuously from midday to 11pm, in a venerable Chicago watering hole called Murphy’s Bleachers. While a number of Aussies like Paul Wilkins, Dan Nancarro, and ABL contest winner Joel Hiscox had tickets for game three, Dallas joined this writer, ABL communication manager Nina Zimmerman, and Aussie Hearts baseballer and “A League of Their Own” actor Patti Pelton at Murhpy’s. The venue is located behind the centerfield scoreboard and right next to the Fox Sports broadcast centre. Famous Cub fan and actor John Cusak viewed part of the game at Murphy’s, as did Joel Murray whose brother Bill also stopped by briefly before later singing the 7th inning stretch for the Wrigley faithful. Eddie Vedder is also a famous regular at Murphy’s.
For Dallas, besides watching the game in such an iconic Wrigleyville location, it was also a great chance make new Cub connections. Highlights included meeting up with a friend he has chatted online about the Cubs with for years but never met, as well as having a chat to the high school coaches of N.L. MVP favourite Kris Bryant while the young legend was batting onscreen.
With a passion for yachting, Kilponen originally became a Cubs fan when in town covering the Chicago Yacht Club’s annual race to Macknac Island in 2006. Through the race he met a 40-year season ticket-holder who invited him to a game. “I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Wrigley field. Plus the connection between the fans and the team really take it to another level- wholesome, respectful, all-around good values. It all seems to reflect the city of Chicago and values I admire in life and in people. My support for the Cubs was then set in stone quote for the rest of my life.”
Dallas has been a lover of baseball since childhood, playing in school and as an adult for the Manly Baseball Club outside Sydney. He has followed MLB since the 1980s, due in part to cricketer Ian Chapell’s love of baseball. But he had not connected to a team until that fateful day in 2006. Since then he has seen eleven more games at Wrigley Field in six further visits to Chicago, plus a second visit this year to soak up the first World Series games played at Wrigley Field since 1945.
How did you watch World Series Game Three: “Even though the Cubs lost 1-0, last night as a fan was one the greatest sporting experiences that I’ve experienced with a whole lot of people in one area, it was magical. The feeling throughout the crowded streets, inside Murphy’s Bleachers, was just incredible. Didn’t believe it was possible, but I’ll walk away loving the Cubs that much more now…It was hard to comprehend that the Cubs were in the World Series, and that I was there. To having gone from watching on the couch by myself last weekend to being surrounded by a mob of passionate fans like me, it was one of the best experiences of my life.” –Dallas Kilponen
Author’s Note: The high school coaches of young legend Kris Bryant made the trek all the way from Las Vegas to watch the game at Murphy’s. Derek Stafford and Matt Estrada reminisced about their friend from back home, Chad Robinson, and his experiences pitching for the Perth Heat in the ABL.
Game Four Profile: Chicago Cubs Hitting Coach John Mallee reaches out to an Aussie baseball fan who could not make the trip to the World Series due to medical circumstances.