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Long time coming for Chicago

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CLEVELAND (AFP) – In the 71 years since the Chicago Cubs last played in baseball’s World Series, America and its national pastime have undergone major social, technological and economic transformations.

No longer are African-American players banned. Now fans can watch on television even as the price of such broadcasts has sent salaries and ticket prices soaring.

The Cubs, who have not won Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final since 1908, make their first World Series appearance since 1945 on Tuesday at Cleveland as the Indians host the Fall Classic’s 112th opener.

In October 1908, Theodore Roosevelt was America’s president. The nation had only 46 states. Orville Wright had just made the first hour-long flight, Henry Ford’s first Model T automobile was coming off the assembly line and US cowboy outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still roaming in Bolivia.

In October 1945, World War II had ended only weeks before. The first World Series telecast was two years away. Color coverage was a decade off. But only a few thousand homes had televisions anyway. More than a third of US homes lacked flushable toilets.

With America’s longest sport title drought on the brink of ending, 62-year-old Cubs manager Joe Maddon finds himself at the intersection of iconic history – people who have waited a lifetime, some who died waiting, for this moment – and the team of 20-something talents who got this far with little worry about such bygone days.

“I have a strong appreciation of all of this,” Maddon said. “I’ve talked to all these dudes about the past and what’s going on right now. The game is absolutely the same and entirely different, if that makes any sense.

“My roots are in traditional, fundamental baseball, whereas I’m also very much into whatever’s available right now that’s able to help you. In the early ’90s, I’m packing a computer on airplanes and guys are making fun of me. Now everybody has got one in their briefcase. It’s just the way it is.”

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