The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Henry Ford rolled out a car that revolutionized the world.
“The Ford Model T changed the way all people lived and worked, which is a pretty powerful statement, but it’s true, ” said Bob Kreipke, corporate historian for Ford, where he has worked for the past 42 years. “The Model T put the world on wheels.”
Launched Oct. 1, 1908, the Model T’s mission was to bring the automobile off the exclusive stage of the rich and spread it to the wide open space of the masses.
“I will build a motor car for the great multitude …” Henry Ford promised in the buildup to the Model T, according to the Henry Ford Museum’s website, www.thehenryford.org.
The Cubs subsequently became a team adored by the great multitude, thanks to WGN-TV broadcasting Cubs games, first locally in the ’60s, then nationally in the ’80s.
But since the Cubs hadn’t made a World Series since 1945, their fans became beasts of burden yoked with the tag of Lovable Losers.
But back when the Model T was new, the Cubs were anything but losers.
The Cubs powered out a come-from-behind victory in Game 1, scoring five runs in the ninth inning, before cruising to a 4-1 World Series win.
The Model T, like the Cubs, won over the masses.
It started at about $825, which is just shy of $22, 000 in today’s dollars. That’s still about 35 percent less than the average cost of a new car today, which is at a record high of more than $34, 000.
By 1918, half of all the cars on American roads were Model T’s. Also in 1918, the Cubs lost the World Series in six to the Boston Red Sox. A footnote that White Sox fans may appreciate: Cubs home games during the Series were played at Comiskey Park, home to the White Sox.
Ford sold an estimated 15 million Tin Lizzies, which were powered by a 22-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that could reach speeds of up to 40 mph.
It was discontinued in 1927, just three years after production moved to Ford’s Chicago Assembly on the Far South Side of Chicago, which today is Ford’s oldest continually operated plant. Customers wanted more style and personality than the cookie-cutter Model T, which had been so standardized as to come in only one color.
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black, ” Henry Ford famously quipped.
Call it Ford’s black cat. Or goat.
Perhaps the Cubs suffered from the same kind of hubris from being consecutive World Series winners: The Cubs lost seven subsequent World Series in the first half of the century, and after 1945 did not return again, until this year.
Like the Cubs, the legend of the Model T continues to grow.
In 1999 an international panel of 133 automotive journalists named the Model T the car of the century.
Who knows, by 2099 the Chicago Cubs may go down as the team of this century. And someday much sooner, perhaps, Joe Maddon may be driving a Tin Lizzie through Grant Park.
Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay