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Chicago Cubs on Catalina Island

on November 13, 2016

Certain events live on forever. Etched in our memories, those events become part of who we are, part of an ever-growing kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and emotions that we can look back on throughout our lives. For most Catalina Island residents, one of those life-altering events happened on Nov. 2, when the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians to become the world champions for the first time in nearly 100 years.

There are very few island residents who don’t name the Chicago Cubs as their favorite team; even those who don’t definitely put them in the top three. For decades, the iconic team and the picturesque island shared an owner — and William Wrigley, Jr. was a master at promoting both. He conjured marketing magic when he decided to bring the Cubs to Catalina for spring training and that seasonal relationship existed for three decades starting in 1921. Mr. Wrigley used the Cubs to promote the island and all of the things to do on Catalina. Dozens of photos exist of the Cubs frolicking on the island – holding Catalina pottery, tussling with a Catalina goat and visiting the Avalon Bird Park.

That long history was on everyone’s mind Nov. 2, and when Avalon echoed with cheers it wasn’t just the current team that was being honored – it was all those long ago Cubs, who spent so much time working and playing on Catalina.

Even though the field where they once played ball is now a dirt lot, you can still sense the magic when looking at the Chicago Cubs exhibit at the Catalina Island Museum – and when listening to Jani Eisenhut play Take Me Out to Ballgame on the Avalon Chimes.

Cubs on Catalina Island

Chicago Cubs Stan Hack and Barney Olsen on Catalina Island in 1941. Photo Courtesy Catalina Island Museum

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