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Raiders WR Andre Holmes connects with hometown Cubs

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Despite growing up a Cubs fans in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, Andre Holmes did not spend that much time at Wrigley Field as a youth.

It wasn’t until more recently that the Oakland Raiders receiver started hitting games in the Friendly Confines.

“I’ve only been to three or four Cubs games and I think three of them were after I got into the league because now I had enough [money] to buy a ticket,” Holmes said Thursday in the Raiders locker room.

“When I went to the games, we weren’t that good; we were still building. But my childhood is filled with a lot of memories, watching the games every day [on TV]. Sammy Sosa. That’s what really made me a Cubs fan. I could have been a White Sox fan, easily, but Sammy Sosa and all that made me a Cubs fan.”

Yes, Holmes referred to the Cubs as “we,” and true, Sosa’s first two-plus big league seasons in Chicago were with the White Sox. But Holmes was only a year old when Sosa was playing on the South side.

Holmes, though, was 10 when Sosa, who had been traded to the Cubs, and Mark McGwire captured the nation’s imagination with their home run chase in the summer of 1998.

So the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time since 1908 on Wednesday night struck more than a chord for Holmes, who often wears a Cubs cap around the facility and who has eight catches for 43 yards and two touchdowns for Oakland.

“It’s kind of crazy because I’m only 28, so I’ve only had a couple heartache situations,” Holmes said, no doubt referencing the 2003 NLCS when the Cubs blew a 3-1 series lead to the Florida Marlins.

Holmes’ mind raced home when Kris Bryant’s throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base beat Michael Martinez and the Cubs survived, 8-7, in 10 innings.

“The instant we won, I thought of my next-door neighbor, who just passed away,” Holmes said. “She was an older lady and all summer long we’d talk, and the conversations were just, the Cubs did this, the Cubs did that. That was our conversation all day.”

How will Holmes mark the occasion in the Bay Area?

“I’m extremely happy, but there’s nothing really to do about it other than ...,” Holmes voice trailed off. “If I was in Chicago, it would be a different story. People are still getting choked up talking about it.”