An epic, Armageddon-inducing World Series between the two most star-crossed teams in baseball appeared oh-so-possible when the Chicago Cubs opened a three games to one lead on the Florida Marlins in the 2003 National League Championship Series and the Boston Red Sox engaged the New York Yankees in a taut American League Championship Series.
Of course, as Steve Bartman and Grady Little know, the all-time World Series never happened as the Cubs and Red Sox suffered their most heartbreaking collapses ever. Everything and nothing has changed since then—the Red Sox mounted the greatest comeback in sports history on their way to finally winning the World Series in 2004 before they won another in 2007 while the Cubs’ championship drought is at 102 seasons and counting—but a little more than seven years later, the two teams will finally meet at legendary Fenway Park.
The Cubs’ first visit to Fenway Park in nearly a century highlights the 2011 Major League Baseball (MLB) schedule, which was released Tuesday, September 14. The Cubs will travel to Fenway May 20-22 for the first time since the 1918 World Series (won by, of course, the Red Sox in six games). STATS LLC reported September 14 that the Cubs also played the National League’s Boston Braves at Fenway Park during the 1914 and 1915 seasons.
Considering tickets are already scarce at Fenway Park, which has played host to a baseball-record 622 consecutive sellouts, the demand for tickets to the historic Sox-Cubs interleague series—only the second all-time between the teams, the Cubs took two of three at similarly historic Wrigley Field in 2005—should be sky-high.
“A couple years back you had the Red Sox play in Chicago and that was a very big deal,” Jim Holzman, the owner of Boston-based Ace Ticket, told TicketNews. The company has an exclusive, off-line secondary ticketing deal with the Red Sox. “I guess we can start the debate as to what place is better: Wrigley or Fenway.
“I think that we’ll see a lot of people from Chicago come to Boston.” Holzman added. “When you have the fanbase of the Cubs and the fanbase of the Red Sox—the two most rabid fanbases in all of baseball—there should be some epic games.”
The 2011 schedule is also notable for when it begins and ends. Opening Day is scheduled for Thursday, March 31, though at least one of the five games that day is expected to be moved to a primetime spot the night before. Major League Baseball, which typically begins its season on a Sunday and Monday, has not opened a campaign on a Thursday since 1976.
The season is scheduled to end Wednesday, September 28, the earliest final day since 2003 and the first time the season concludes on a day other than Sunday since 1990. The earlier start and finish is part of Commissioner Bud Selig’s attempts to end the World Series before November.
Other interesting series on the calendar include the St. Louis Cardinals’ first visit to Baltimore to face the Orioles June 28-30. The Orioles were known as the St. Louis Browns before moving to Baltimore and changing their nickname in 1953.
The Red Sox will open their home schedule against the Yankees for the second straight year April 8-10. The Subway Series between the Yankees and New York Mets will take place at Yankee Stadium May 20-22 and at Citi Field July 1-3, while the Windy City battle between the White Sox and Cubs are scheduled for June 20-22 at U.S. Cellular Field and July 1-3 at Wrigley Field.