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Cubs and Red Sox Play Again After 90 Years

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

In Chicago this weekend, something is happening that hasn't happened since 1918: The Chicago Cubs are playing the Boston Red Sox. In fact, the last time the Red Sox played in the Windy City, a fellow named Babe Ruth was on their roster. It was the 1918 World Series, and the teams played at Comiskey Park. Today was the Red Sox's first time ever in Wrigley Field, and the Cubs won the first game of this interleague series 14-6. During the game, I spoke with Cubs fan George Lucas. No relation to the movie maker. He was at Wrigley Field. He's owner of the bar the Cubby Bear, which is across the street from the ballpark. He said Cubs fans take inspiration from the Red Sox. Until the Sox won the World Series last year, both teams had a long history of losing.

Mr. GEORGE LUCAS (Owner, Cubby Bear): Yes, it certainly is. And hopefully, the Boston curse that rubbed off will help us--they'll help us rub off this year with our curse.

BLOCK: I wonder what that's like to have these two teams meeting together in Wrigley Field for the first time. Do you get a sense that this is a historic moment?

Mr. LUCAS: Oh, most definitely. You could see it in the pregame in the bars. There was a huge crowd of Cubs fans and Red Sox fans in my two bars that we have out here and our restaurant next door. The Cubs fans and the Red Sox fans are--they seem to be like long lost cousins.

BLOCK: (Laughs)

Mr. LUCAS: We have a lot of things in common.

BLOCK: Well, yeah. I mean, as another team that has just had no luck at all in the World Series for just a really, really long time, when the Red Sox won last year, how did Cubs fans feel about that?

Mr. LUCAS: Oh, I believe most people, as I, felt very relieved for the Red Sox fans and the citizens of Boston.

BLOCK: But wasn't it always sort of nice to know that there was another team that was in just about as bad shape as you were?

Mr. LUCAS: Absolutely, and it's a great marketing tool for the old Boston franchise and as well as the Cubs to sell a lovable loser product. Now it's a you-gotta-win product. And hopefully, that'll carry on for the Cubs management here, and as they are doing a great job over here.

BLOCK: You know, are you thinking ahead--it's a dangerous thing to do in baseball, but what do you think, Cubs-Red Sox in the 2005 World Series?

Mr. LUCAS: That would be wonderful for us. I was planning on the championship this year, so I renovated my whole first floor at the Cubby Bear. We put about a million dollars of improvements in our foundation and our new floor, and we're ready for the people to jump up and down in our facility with all the excitement of a championship game.

BLOCK: Well, that's pretty confident.

Mr. LUCAS: Well, yeah. It was also a need. Our building was over a hundred years old, so we had to repair it.

BLOCK: Do you think that any of the Red Sox luck may be rubbing off on you?

Mr. LUCAS: Absolutely. I mean, we've reached the bottom of the barrel. The only person at the bottom of the barrel are the Chicago Cub fans and the Chicago Cubs, so I believe it's our time is due, whether it's this year or next year, hopefully next year is this year. If not, we'll be here next year.

BLOCK: Well, George Lucas, thanks so much. Enjoy the game.

Mr. LUCAS: All right. Thanks, Melissa.

BLOCK: That's George Lucas, speaking to us from a pay phone at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He's owner of one of the bars across the street from the friendly confines, the Cubby Bear.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Do they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around? When the snow melts away, do the Cubbies still play in their ivy-covered burial ground? When I was a boy, they were my pride and joy.

BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.