CHICAGO - Major League Baseball’s Championship Series is underway, where the final four teams compete for two coveted spots in the annual World Series. For one team in the final stretch, a shot at the World Series is a rare opportunity to reverse the longest standing championship drought in the history of North American professional sports. In the “Windy City” of Chicago, Illinois, the Chicago Cubs are hoping to do what hasn’t been done in a long time.
The “Friendly Confines” of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, was built in 1914. It is one of the oldest operating ballparks in Major League Baseball, but the Cubs have never won a World Series there.
“The Cubs have not been in the World Series in the television era, modern times, in the lifespan of most people,” said George Castle, author and Cubs historian.
Castle has followed many of the ups and downs of the Cubs, also known as the “Loveable Losers.”
“The Cubs are called the ‘Loveable Losers’ because they’ve gone the longest without a championship of all American pro sports franchises. They’ve lost in spectacular fashion,” he said.
The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, when there were only 16 professional baseball teams. Today there are 30. Castle said the Cubs last visit to the World Series in 1945 may have been one of their best chances to win.
“Which oddly enough was a war year, when much of the great talent was away in [the] service… They still lost to the Detroit Tigers in that World Series,” said Castle.
That was 70 years ago.
So here in Chicago, making it to the National League Championship Series is a big deal for Chicago Cubs fans like Rich Buhrke.
Buhrke was born just after the Cubs last World Series appearance.
“You would have thought by accident they would have won something by now,” he said.
Buhrke's hopes are high, but not so high that he thinks the Cubs will beat their opponent, the New York Mets, in the games ahead.
“You have to take it one game at a time because I’ve learned a long time ago - don’t get too excited about it,” he said.
But fans are excited, and so is the team’s ownership, which is overseeing a massive restoration and expansion of old Wrigley Field to bring the facilities, and hopefully the team, into a new era of baseball in the Windy City.