Saturday night, the Chicago Cubs advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1945, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 to win the National League Championship Series in six games to meet the Cleveland Indians in the Fall Classic, starting Tuesday.
In that 1945 World Series, the Cubs met the Detroit Tigers. It was the Cubs 10th World Series appearance in the first 42 editions of the World Series, although the North-Siders had only won in two of their previous appearances (1907-08), and would end up losing to the Tigers in seven games.
When that World Series was contested, Harry S. Truman had just become president six months earlier after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Between then and the World Series that October, Truman had already overseen the end of World War II, winning in Europe 25 days after Roosevelt’s death, and in Japan in August.
(Outspoken Cub fan Steve Goodman, known for writing “Go Cubs Go,” pointed out that parallel history in a lyric in his song “The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” saying “You know the law of averages says anything will happen that can, but the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”)
In the month before the 1945 World Series, Ho Chi Minh established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and American military occupation of Korea began, with both events setting the stage for major conflicts over the coming years.
The average house cost $4,600 in 1945, and a gallon of gas costs 15 cents. The Bells of St. Mary’s starring Bing Crosby was the top-grossing film of the year, and Crosby won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Going My Way, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Animal Farm and Stuart Little were among the novels published in 1945.
Microwave ovens and cruise control were invented in 1945, and less than 10,000 homes had television sets, while the credit card, defibrillator, and hair spray were all invented over the next three years.
Don McLean was born the day before the World Series, while fellow entertainers Tom Selleck, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger, John Fogerty, Steve Martin, Neil Young, and Bette Midler and journalists Chris Matthews and Diane Sawyer were all also born in 1945. Sports figures Pat Riley, Walt Frazier, Gary Williams, Hale Irwin, Phil Jackson, Jim Palmer, and Larry Bowa were also born in 1945, and Hall of Famer Rod Carew was born two days before the World Series.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would not be born for another year and two years, respectively. My grandparents were between 9 and 18 years old.
World War II resulted in the deaths of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Anne Frank in 1945, while general George Patton died shortly after the war’s conclusion.
As the 1945 World Series was played, no black players were on either team, as Jackie Robinson would not break baseball’s color barrier for another two years. The first Cubs player to appear in the 2016 World Series opener on Tuesday in Cleveland will likely be African-American outfielder Dexter Fowler, the Cubs usual leadoff hitter.
The years 1945 and 2016 are quite different, as society, culture, and even the timeless game of baseball have all seen big changes. But in 1945 and 2016, one thing is the same: The Chicago Cubs are National League champions.
The curse of the billy-goat, the black cat, and the Bartman game have blocked potential World Series appearances for the Cubs, but now, finally, 71 years later, the Cubs are back in the World Series.
It’s been a long time coming.
World Series Schedule (all games on FOX, at 8:08 pm ET unless otherwise noted)
Game 1: Tuesday, October 25
Game 2: Wednesday, October 26
Game 3: Friday, October 28
Game 4: Saturday, October 29
Game 5: Sunday, October 30, 8:15 pm ET (if necessary)
Game 6: Tuesday, November 1 (if necessary)
Game 7: Wednesday, November 2 (if necessary)