LYNDHURST, N.J. -- A little bit of Bears Country had a big showing in the World Series with Chicago Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who has roots in Lyndhurst.
Rizzo helped bring the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years, breaking the longest championship drought by any major American sports team.
The Cubs toppled the Indians 8-7 in a 10-inning nail-biter that stretched into Thursday morning in Cleveland.
Rizzo is son of John and Lori Rapisardi Rizzo, both born and raised in Lyndhurst. The 27-year-old hit a home run in Game 6 of the World Series, all but guaranteeing a Game 7 for the Chicago Cubs.
During Game 7, he hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to drive in the fifth run.
"We're world champions, I can't believe it," Rizzo said to media outlets following the game.
Dana Rapisardi's cousin is Lori Rizzo and he saw Anthony a few years ago at a big family party in town.
"Lori threw this big party, a breakfast, and Anthony was still adjusting to being adored. My mom has officially adopted him as her third son," said Rapisardi of Lyndhurst. "He seems to call out that emotion in people. He's like this picture of what American baseball used to be like."
Although he's not a big baseball fan, Rapisardi said he appreciates when a game is something spectacular. "A lot of games are like a chess match. Last night was a battle, a bloodless battle."
He said his mother Peggy, in particular, has embraced the Cubs since Rizzo has been on the team. "She even has an app so she's never missed a game. She's about as fanatical as an octogenarian can get. She wants a championship shirt for Christmas."
Although Rizzo was raised in Florida, he spent many summers in Lyndhurst visiting grandparents and other family. As a kid, he was often seen eating Italian ice and cannoli at the Lyndhurst Pastry Shop. The shop and the Lanzerotti family in 2014 sent Italian ice in a flavor named after the player. The Anthony Rizzo Special is half Yum Yum and half chocolate.
"We roll the flavor out when the Mets are playing the Cubs," said pastry shop co-owner Jerry Lanzerotti. The Lanzerotti Family has been running the famed Italian cake shop since 1947.
The last time the famous first baseman stopped in was during the year when he was filming a commercial for Nike. "He stopped by with his cousins, Dave and Tina Connelly."
Lanzerotti said Rizzo's parents grew up on Pennsylvania Avenue and his mother's family, the Rapisardi's, used to own Skip's Luncheonette.
"His grandparents are long gone now but aunts, uncles and cousins, a lot of people are still here," he said.
Lanzerotti said the shop keeps a leukemia bucket to help raise money for the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation . The baseball player was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma as an 18-year-old prospect with the Red Sox. He's now cancer-free.
The mission of the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation is to raise money for cancer research and to provide support to children and their families battling the disease.
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