Blog, Sports History

New Memories about the Cubs

By: Olivia Mahoney
Sep 15 2017

Senior curator Olivia Mahoney introduces the new Chicago Cubs items on display at the Chicago History Museum and reflects on the team’s past. 

On November 4, 2016, millions of Cubs fans gathered in downtown Chicago for the victory parade and rally. Photograph by CHM staff.

Like Cubs fans everywhere, I’m thrilled that they won the 2016 World Series. It was a long time coming, but now that they’re champions, let’s try to forget the decades of dashed hopes and instead focus on the joy the team brought us even during the most dismal years. Yes, joy, as in sunny afternoons at Wrigley Field with a cold beer or listening to Pat Hughes on the car radio while running routine errands. Some of my happiest memories are related to the Cubs, including watching Hall of Fame players like Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays or taking an afternoon off from work in the late summer to watch a meaningless but still beautiful game at the old ballpark.

Ben Zobrist wore this jersey in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series.

CHM costume collection manager Jessica Pushor (left) and senior curator Olivia Mahoney (right) discuss the placement of the Zobrist jersey.

New memories are being made right now as we prepare a small tribute to the team that finally made our dreams come true. On September 16, 2017, the Chicago History Museum opened a new display that features materials from the 2016 World Series. The Cubs donated seats from Wrigley Field in which visitors can sit and two baseballs. Currently on display is a foul ball hit by their star third baseman Kris Bryant in Game 1—the other ball will be shown sometime in the future. On loan are a jersey and a cap worn by MVP utility man Ben Zobrist in Games 3 and 7. These items are on view in the Museum’s core exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America located on the second floor.

CHM conservator Holly Lundberg places a baseball from Game 1 onto its mount.

While developing this new installation, I had the pleasure of touring the team’s new offices with Kris Maldre Jarosik, assistant director of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field Archives. Many choice artifacts were on view there, including the 1907 and 2016 National League Championship trophies, the final out ball from Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and a section of the green metal wall from the old bullpen area. I also had the pleasure of meeting Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. It was completely unplanned, which made it more memorable. When I told my son, a diehard Cubs fan and former baseball player, he asked if I had thanked Mr. Ricketts for what he’s done, and I was pleased to answer in the affirmative. It took a complete overhaul of the organization to break the longest championship drought in North American sports history, and Ricketts deserves a lot of credit, as do all the members of his staff, coaches, and players. Having watched umpteen baseball games at all levels, I have some sense of how hard the game is to play. It may look simple, but it’s not, and the long, grueling schedule is a test of anyone’s mettle.

Now, as the Cubs strive for another spot in the playoffs, I hope they pull it off, but if they don’t, it’s okay with me. I’m still recovering from 2016 and more than one championship a century may be too much for an old Cubs fan like me. Besides, I can always wait ’til next year!

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