When a baseball team’s fan base has only a handful of people who can remember the last World Series title that their team has won, it’s time to muster and play to the level of the fall classic so as to give their fans sweet memories of victory. Entry into this year’s Major League Baseball finale has been hard fought and now will be heart felt through the fans at Progressive Stadium and Wrigley Field. Most people from Cleveland and Chicago know of the “last time” through second, third, and fourth hand stories, there might be a handful people watching who will remember the original. In this contest, the shortest span of years since championship is the Cleveland Indians’ 68 years (but they are the slightly younger franchise) and the longest span being the Chicago Cubs’ century plus eight, but they did appear in the series as recently as 1945. So everyone remembers exactly how long its been since their teams reached the peak of baseball, but they are still fans.
When the Cubs last won the World Series, there was a presidential election with two candidates nominated by the GOP and the Democratic parties, and William Randolph Hearst ran on an Independent ticket. The incumbent president (Theodore Roosevelt) was not seeking a third term. He encouraged the Republican party to nominate William Howard Taft, who did win and served as President between 1909 and 1913. The Democratic Party continued pushing for their candidates, who had lost their attempts in prior elections. Does this sound familiar?
In 1908, there were only 46 states – we hadn’t yet become sea to shining sea; Katharine Lee Bates wrote the poem “Pikes Peak” in 1895, and it was published as “America the Beautiful” in 1910. The song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was first seen in print in 1908, composed by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer; it gave free publicity to the 1895 product Cracker Jack and became the Seventh Inning stretch song after 1934, when it was played in the fourth game of the World Series.
When the Cubs were on top of the heap, baseball and all other sports remained segregated and women still hadn’t won the right to vote. The labor force in the US had begun to organize, but were still subject to low wages and unregulated conditions. All the foundation players of the real American monopoly game were alive and pursuing their strategies in oil, steel, electricity, transportation, and finance. Henry Ford’s Model T was introduced on October 1st, nine days before the start of the World Series between the Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. Of course, their own home stadium of Wrigley Field wasn’t built and opened until 3 years after their win.
Cleveland has already had a stellar year with the Cavaliers claiming the NBA title in June, their city hosted the GOP Convention in July, and they’ve defeated Toronto for the American League pennant. That’s a lot of deserved victory and attention for the city to chew on. The combined drought for both cities’ baseball teams is over 170 years; that’s quite a long time for fans to maintain their loyalty through the bad … but they do! The Cleveland Indians team is still bearing the logo of Chief Wahoo on their caps and on their licensed apparel, which has been protested by Native American organizations (along with other logos of similar nature). While the owner of the club, Paul Dolan, has given no indication of omitting Chief Wahoo, some fans remove the logo to show their understanding of the controversy. Don’t think that Cleveland fans will extend that understanding to the Cubbies, because they want their shot at another big city title and they’ve been in the game more recently than Chicago, with pennant titles in 1954, 1995, and 1997.
So now in the modern era, each will have a contingency of fans in both of their respective stadiums watching each pitch and umpire call and waiting for pivotal play or the dramatic shake-up that defines our affection for the game. Chicago and Cleveland aren’t as close to one another as Oakland and San Francisco (the Bay Series of 1989), but they are within reasonable driving distance from one another. Sadly, only one team will be able to update their stories and begin a new history of memories.
In legacy of both teams’ fails are represented even in our movies. The Major League movies were a comedy based on fictional players of the Indians team, and the Cubs future was glorified in box office fantasies. These clips contain language and content that are not appropriate for all ages.
Many World Series contests gets blessed with a nickname like the Freeway-Series (Angels and Dodgers), the Bay series (Oakland and San Francisco), or the East-West Showdown Series (Yankees and Dodgers), and not to forget the two Subway Series (NY Yankees and NY Mets) match ups in 1954 and 2000. Well, what are we going to call this one, with the teams truly representing the heart of America playing America’s game – no, it’s not the election series, it’s the World Series. I have a feeling it will be christened AFTER the series is played.
I could hear the screams from Wrigley field wafting through the evening even though I’m more than a thousand miles away, its all those temporarily styled-Chicago clubs and bars. There is a Chicago-an in every city and most all of them are Cubs fans. I can only guess on how they got to wherever they are, perhaps following the founder of base-ball and life isms Yogi Berra who said “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
FINAL SCORE L.A. Dodgers 0 and Chicago Cubs 5 CHICAGO CUBS WIN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE PENNANT !!!
Everyone is hoping that the results of this year will not be “déjà vu all over again.”