World Series Opens With Tacoma Ties

Game One of the World Series is tonight at 5:00 (Fox), and this promises to be a thrilling series. Someone new is going to win it.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. The Cleveland Indians last won in 1948.

The Cubs haven’t even played in a World Series during my lifetime – and probably yours, too: they last reached the Fall Classic in 1945.

Cleveland’s last World Series appearance came in 1997, and it ended with one of the greatest Game Sevens in the sport’s history. The Florida Marlins tied the game in the ninth against Jose Mesa, and won in the 11th inning on Edgar Renteria‘s hit.

We’re a little short on ex-Rainiers in the World Series this year. In fact, there is only one: Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery made 11 starts for Tacoma in 2015. He went back-and-forth between Tacoma and Seattle that year, and then was traded to the Cubs this summer.

Montgomery pitched very well for the Cubs, but it is far too early to determine who “won” that trade. The prospects the Mariners received (Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn) have not reached the majors yet, and both are quite young and have a good chance to help Seattle in the future.

The Cubs have a local player in Jon Lester, who was raised in Puyallup and played high school baseball here in Tacoma at Bellarmine Prep. He pitched at Cheney Stadium as an amateur.

For longtime Tacoma fans and Pacific Coast League followers, the Cubs third base coach is a familiar name. Gary Jones was an infielder who played for the Tacoma Tigers from 1987 through 1989, when they were an Oakland A’s affiliate. He became a highly successful minor league manager and won back-to-back PCL Championships as Edmonton’s skipper in 1996 and 1997.

Cleveland does not have any former Tacoma players on its active roster or coaching staff. Ex-Rainiers outfielder Abraham Almonte is ineligible for the postseason; I’m not sure if he gets to sit in the dugout and watch.

Both teams are loaded with former PCL players who came through Tacoma on the visiting side during their Triple-A days. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is the last player to make a serious run at Cheney Stadium’s giant wall in center field, driving a ball halfway up it in August of 2014.

Now for some really ancient history.

The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, when they beat the Detroit Tigers in five games.

Orval Overall was the starting pitcher in Game Five, and he went the distance in a 2-0 series-clinching shutout.

Overall – a U.C. Berkeley grad and college football All-American – started his professional baseball career four years earlier, with the 1904 Tacoma Tigers.

His record for Tacoma in 1904? 32-25, 2.78 in 510.2 innings pitched.

Baseball was a little different back then.

Links:

  • The News Tribune reported late Friday that Pat Listach has been offered a contract to return as Tacoma manager. This jives with what Pat told me “off the record” at the end of the Rainiers season. If he can’t score a major league managing or coaching job, he’ll be back.
  • In a Mariners Notebook from the end of last week, Bob Dutton tells us that Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell returned from his suspension and has begun playing in the Dominican Winter League.
  • Dutton talked to Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto about the changing relief roles, a hot topic during the postseason mostly because of Terry Francona‘s unique and highly successful handling of Indians relief ace Andrew Miller.
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