In 2003 interleague play, the teams met for the first time since 1938. The Yankees won the first game, a bout between David Wells and Carlos Zambrano. On Saturday, Roger Clemens was denied his 300th win by an old school Kerry Wood performance. Current Yanks minor leaguer Mark Prior (who was originally drafted by the Yankees before opting for college and later the Cubs) outdueled the then 31-year-old Andy Pettitte to win the rubber match on Sunday. On top of those bits of nostalgia, Sammy Sosa, fresh off his bat-corking incident, collected his 2000th career hit. He was in the midst of appealing his punishment, and was therefore allowed to play in the series with the controversy looming over him.
That was in 2003, and it was the first time the two historic franchises had met since the 1938 World Series.The two clubs are arguably the most beloved and stories franchises in baseball history, in much different ways: The Lovable Losers VS The Evil Empire. When they meet, dramatic and captivating things just might happen. If all goes as expected, the Yankees-Cubs series in Chicago later this month will have its own set of compelling storylines.
As of this article's writing, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter is sitting on 2,986 career hits, leaving him 14 shy of the 3,000 milestone, which is also where Roberto Clemente's career total stands. If he gets one hit in each of the next 12 games, he will enter the Sunday finale of the Wrigley series just two hits shy of the mark. Considering Jeter has gotten an average of 1.1 hits per game this season, it seems almost preordained that he achieve it in Chicago.
Yankee fans may despair, hoping Jeter will have a couple monster series against the Red Sox and Indians, and hopefully get 3,000 at home. While that would be ideal for Jeter's legions of fans, Wrigley Field isn't such a bad second option. For one thing, the building will be full of Yankee fans. This series was already one of the hottest tickets in Chicago in February, and as Jeter marches to 3,000, it will only get hotter. The transplanted and visiting New Yorkers will likely make the large Yankee contingents at White Sox games seem almost miniscule. Yankee fans will be able to make themselves heard when the big moment comes, which is good because Wrigley certainly has no Jumbotron to inform everyone of the significance. Additionally, the traditional singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the seventh inning will likely be led by the most flashy of celebrities. I'm thinking Banks, Jordan, Winfrey, DeNiro, Springsteen, etc. The atmosphere will be electric, even if the games are boring as hell.
Secondly, it would be another great event in Yankee history to occur at the expense of the Cubs. Forget about 2003, lets go back to that 1938 World Series. It was a merciless, dominating sweep by the Yankees, who won their third World Series out of an eventual four in a row. Going back even further, in 1932, the Yankees swept the Cubs in more dramatic fashion. That series featured a record 13 Hall of Famers (9 on the Yanks). Bad blood boiled between the clubs as the Yankees called the Cubs "cheapskates" for failing to give their former teammate, and current Cub, Mark Koenig, an equal share of Chicago's World Series bonuses. The Cubs answered the potshots by calling Babe Ruth "fat", washed up" and, from Cubs hurler Guy Bush, a "nigger". In retaliation, Ruth hit his legendary "called shot" in his tenth and final World Series appearance. Whether or not he called it for real is irrelevant. It has been and will be remembered that way forever, and should bother modern Cubbie fans as much as the silly billy goat legend.
Hopefully, the upcoming series will add to the legends of the Yankees and Cubs, and the Cubbie faithful can fantasize about a non-interleague play meeting between the teams once again someday.