CLEVELAND — Minutes before the start of the victory that sent the Cubs to the World Series, centerfielder Dexter Fowler ducked his head into Wrigley Field’s iconic ivy seeking a moment of quiet.
As he’s done his entire career, Fowler spoke to his late grandmother Betty, who always reminded him to have fun with the game.
“I know she’s looking down on me right now and definitely has a smile on her face,” said Fowler, who soon will give her yet another reason to smile.
The Cubs’ last pennant came in 1945, before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947. So, when Fowler steps into the batter’s box to lead off Game 1 on Tuesday, he will become the first black player to represent the Cubs in the World Series.
“To add that aspect of it makes it that much more special,” he said.
Not until Fowler saw a tweet following the Cubs’ pennant celebration did it sink in that he would soon occupy a special place in franchise lore.
“It’s crazy to even think about that because you look back at your parents, and my parents weren’t even alive then,” Fowler said. “It’s a lifetime. It’s awesome to be the pioneer, the first one . . . It all wouldn’t be possible without Jackie.”
Last night, Fowler took a called third strike from Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber to lead off the game, becoming the first Cubs player to bat in the World Series in 25,948 days.
He went down swinging in the third inning and grounded out to second in the sixth. He ended up 0-for-4 in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss.