*This piece is also featured in the November 9th-November 15th issue of the Chicago Defender newspaper*
For most millennials like me, we were raised during an era of great social and technological advancements. We have seen the creation of the internet, the introduction of social media, and the invention of the iphone just to name a few. But even for our generation, there are two things that those who raised us agreed we would never see happen in our lifetime.
First, we were told that we would not live long enough to see a black man become the President of the United States. But on November 4, 2008, we saw that sentiment come crashing down with the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th President and 1st African American to hold the office.
Next, we were told that the Chicago Cubs would never win another World Series Championship. Well as of last Wednesday, November 2, 2016, our elders are officially 0 for 2.
After 10 “LIT” innings of a “winner take all” Game 7 in this year’s World Series, we saw our Cubbies grind out an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians and win their first World Series title since 1908. It was their first World Series appearance since 1945.
However, it is important to note that these dates are not only significant because they represent how long it’s been since the Cubs were last Champions, these dates also represent a time that would have significantly altered the product the Cubs would have been able to put on the field.
Both 1908 and 1945 predate when Jackie Robinson famously broke the colorlines in Major League Baseball in April of 1947. Meaning that when the Cubs were last playing for the crown of Champions, no black players were allowed to play in Major League Baseball. So when Cubs centerfielder Dexter Fowler stepped to the plate as the Cubs leadoff hitter in Game 1 of this year’s World Series, he was the first African American player in Cubs history to play in a World Series game.
But the historic racial breakthrough’s of this year’s World Series didn’t just take place on the field, they extended to the press areas of Progressive Field in Cleveland and Wrigley Field here in Chicago.
1945 also predates legendary Chicago black journalist, Wendell Smith becoming the first African American member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Although credentialed, the color ban that existed for black baseball players, also existed for black sports reporters as they were not allowed into the press areas of major league ballparks. This often resulted in black sports reporters having to report on the game from very peculiar parts of the ballpark including in between the stands, sitting on top of the dugout, and even sometimes from outside the ballpark while listening to a transistor radio.
Even today, in an industry and a sport that is predominantly white, spotting a black sports journalist in a Major League ballpark can be an exercise in futility, but I am here to help.
As a co-founder of “The Bigs Media”, one of Chicago’s first black owned sports media outlets and one of the few sports journalist of color who had the honor of covering the Cubs first World Series Championship in 108 years, it would be irresponsible of me not to shine a light on the group of local journalist who would have not had the opportunity to do so back when the Cubs were last playing in the World Series in 1945.
Eugene McIntosh(The Bigs Media), Terrence Tomlin(The Bigs Media), Ryan Baker(CBS Chicago), Jim Rose(ABC Chicago), Dionne Miller(ABC Chicago), Siafa Lewis(NBC Chicago), George Smith(Fox32 Chicago), Kenny McReynolds(WCIU), Jason Goff(WSCR), Laurence Holmes(WSCR), Michael E. Mayden(Mayden Media), Sahadev Sharma(The Athletic), Mark Gonzales(Chicago Tribune)
Through these sports sports journalist, a voice and perspective that was silenced in 1945, lives strong in 2016 and will only get stronger.