Tuesday, October 25, 2016

1945 and 1997- Former "Last Times"

I am pumped by this year's World Series! As a life-long baseball fan to have a "historic" Series like this does not happen often. My personal greatest was the 1980 World Series where my Phillies won their first ever Series after two earlier widely separated tries. I was there for the first game at Veterans' Stadium- which was the first post season game they had ever won.

Anyway, that is why this year could be quite a time. If both teams live up to their season-long exhibition of skill, it may rank as one of the greats. Only time will tell if either- or both- fizzle and turn it into "ho-hum" baseball in spite of the hype.

I went back and did a little research into the "last time" these teams were in the World Series. For the Cubs it was 1945, as we have heard so often. Seventy-one years.

1945 Cubs
  • Charlie Grimm was their manager
  • There were no future Hall of Fame players on the team. That should be no surprise since it was the end of World War II and many of the top players had been drafted or enlisted.   
  • They lost to the Detroit Tigers in seven games.
According to the Wikipedia article on the Series:
Warren Brown, author of a history of the Cubs in 1946, commented on this [lack of stars due to WW II] by titling one chapter "World's Worst Series". He also cited a famous quote of his, referencing himself anonymously and in the third person. When asked who he liked in the Series, he answered, "I don't think either one of them can win it."

In a similar vein, Frank Graham jokingly called this Series "the fat men versus the tall men at the office picnic."

One player decidedly not fitting that description was the Tigers' slugger Hank Greenberg, who had been discharged from military service early. He hit the only two Tigers homers in the Series, and scored seven runs overall and also drove in seven.
More recently, merely 19 years ago, we have:
1997 Indians
  • Mike Hargrove was the manager
  • No one from that team has yet been elected to the Hall of Fame, but a number of them are clear contenders including former Twins favorite, Jim Thome.
  • Lost to Florida Marlins in seven games. The Marlins were only in their fifth season as a MLB franchise- a record.
Wikipedia reports:
The Marlins, who were underdogs, capped a stunning season. They [won] their first World Series championship, making them the first wild card team to ever win the World Series.

This was also the third (and most recent) time where Game 7 of the World Series went into extra innings, after 1924 and 1991 both of whom involved the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise.
So it begins tonight. More sports, more baseball, more of the Fall Classic- # 112. I hope it lives up to- and even exceeds- the hype.

With all the pain we have been through in this election cycle, we need something extraordinary!

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