I called it the biggest baseball game of the century to date.
I told myself that with that much buildup and hype, it would be difficult for the game to live up to that lofty title, even with the guarantee of one championship drought coming to an end.
But after the Chicago Cubs outlasted the Cleveland Indians in 10 innings to win their first championship in 108 years, Game 7 of the 112th World Series didn’t just live up to the hype–it surpassed it, unquestionably becoming greatest baseball game played in this century, and arguably the greatest of all-time.
Even before first pitch the game had a plethora of storylines. The 37th winner-take-all World Series game in history, between franchises looking for their first titles since 1908 and 1948. The Cubs trying to complete a Series comeback after trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven contest. A 103-win Cubs team having to play Game 7 on the road because the American League won the All-Star Game.
Cy Young Award contenders from each league, Kyle Hendricks and Corey Kluber, facing off head-to-head for all the marbles. A managerial battle between Joe Maddon and Terry Francona. The Cubs exceptional young core of position players and the equally exceptional Indians bullpen.
Game 7 had all this, and more. Really, it had a little bit of everything. Things that were expected to happen never unfolded, and things no one expected did occur. One game contained innumerable moments that will live in the lore of the World Series much longer than 108 years from now.
Dexter Fowler’s leadoff homer. Kyle Schwarber’s steal in the first. Kris Bryant sliding between the legs of catcher Roberto Perez to score. Javier Baez’s homer. The Cubs stunning Kluber to take a 5-1 lead. Three Cubs errors. Hendricks dealing, then being pulled for Jon Lester. Two Indians scoring on a wild pitch (the first time two scored on a wild pitch in a World Series game since 1911). David Ross homering in his final career at-bat, becoming the oldest to homer in a World Series Game 7. Rajai Davis’s unlikely home run in the 8th, the latest game-tying homer in any Game 7 in history. Aroldis Chapman, running on fumes, somehow getting the Indians in order in the 9th. Extra innings.
A rain delay. Schwarber’s leadoff walk in the 10th. Pinch-runner Albert Almora tagging to second on a flyout. Zobrist’s go-ahead double in the 10th. He and Montero earning RBIs after the previous batters were intentionally walked. Rookie Carl Edwards getting the first two outs in the 10th. Davis making it 8-7 with an RBI single. Mike Montgomery, of all people, throwing all of two pitches and getting the final out, his first professional save at any level. Kris Bryant grinning ear-to-ear as he fielded the grounder to win it all.
It was a paradoxical game with both an abundance of clutch hitting and its share of solid pitching. Both managers made some tough–and controversial–decisions, and while he ended up on the losing end, Francona appeared to outmanage Maddon.
Both sides experienced a roller-coaster ride of emotions: joy, frustration, hope, despair, and eventually triumph and heartbreak in the respective dugouts when the classic culminated.
The final result is what many veterans of the sports media world have called the greatest story they have ever covered–the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time since 1908.
The first time in 39,466 days. The first time since Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States–all 45 of them–and William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan were running to replace him. The first time since two weeks after Ford began producing the Model T. The first time since the year Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Stewart were born and Grover Cleveland died. The first time since 19 years before any of my grandparents were born.
Not only did Game 7 mark the first time a Cubs World Series victory was broadcast on television, but the first time it was broadcast, period, as the World Series was not broadcast on radio until 1921, and commercial radio broadcasting in general did not begin until the 1920’s.
The broadcast of Game 7 will endure for ages, as it joins the list of the greatest games in World Series history and, given the circumstances, may eclipse them all as the greatest baseball game of all-time.
The Cubs and their fans have literally waited a lifetime to celebrate winning the World Series.
It’s only appropriate that the game of a lifetime put them over the top.
112th World Series
Game 1: Cleveland 6, Chicago 0
W: Kluber, L: Lester
Cleveland leads 1-0
Game 2: Chicago 5, Cleveland 1
W: Arrieta, L: Bauer
Series tied 1-1
Game 3: Cleveland 1, Chicago 0
W: Miller, L: Edwards, S: Allen
Cleveland leads 2-1
Game 4: Cleveland 7, Chicago 2
W: Kluber, L: Lackey
Cleveland leads 3-1
Game 5: Chicago 3, Cleveland 2
W: Lester, L: Bauer, S: Chapman
Cleveland leads 3-2
Game 6: Chicago 9, Cleveland 3
W: Arrieta, L: Tomlin
Series tied 3-3
Game 7: Chicago 8, Cleveland 7, 10 innings
W: Chapman, L: Shaw, S: Montgomery
Chicago wins 4-3