Chicago Cubs Dexter Fowler’s first at-bat will make World Series history
The last time the Cubs played in Series, the majors were two years away from integrating the sport
The first black man to play in Major League Baseball was Brooklyn Dodger and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. The first African-Americans to play in a World Series were Robinson and teammate Dan Bankhead.
When the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians square off on Tuesday night in Cleveland at Progressive Field, Cubs center fielder and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler will make history with his at-bat – he will be the first black player to play for the Cubs in a World Series. Right fielder Jason Heyward and infielder Addison Russell will join Fowler in the lineup and making history.
How appropriate that the first Cub to play in the WS will be a black man (Dexter Fowler) – they weren't even allowed to play the last time.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 23, 2016
The team has not reached the Series since 1945, and although Ernie Banks was the first African-American to suit up for the team in 1953, he never played in the postseason. “Mr. Cub,” who died in January 2015, actually holds the record for the most games played without a playoff appearance (2,528).
“Sometimes I’m at a Hall of Fame reunion and I’ll look around and see I’m the only one in the room who never played in a World Series,” Banks once told LA Observed’s Ron Rapoport in 2015. “I’ve had nightmares about it. Once I even talked to a psychiatrist.”
Sports writer Rany Jazayerli noted the irony of the situation on Saturday. In 1945, the major leagues were still two years removed from integrating.
Fowler, who has 13 homers while hitting .276, didn’t seem to be aware of his place in club history before Jazayerli mentioned it. The center fielder almost missed this opportunity entirely when he flirted with the possibility of leaving the team for the Baltimore Orioles in the offseason as a free agent. Eventually, he signed a one-year deal.
The World Series will get underway at 8:08 EST Tuesday night. This is the 112th World Series and the 174-year drought of the two teams’ combined Series absence is the longest in the fall classic’s history.