First time, long time: Hughes' historic championship call
Longtime Cubs radio play-by-play broadcaster reflects on first title in booth
By Barry M. Bloom
CLEVELAND -- The moment of a lifetime came for Cubs radio play-by-play broadcaster Pat Hughes shortly after midnight ET on Thursday when Indians right fielder Michael Martinez grounded the ball to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.
When Bryant made the throw across the diamond to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs had defeated the Indians, 8-7, in the 10th inning of Game 7 to win the World Series for the first time since 1908.
"Martinez grounds the ball to Bryant. His throw to Rizzo is in time. The Chicago Cubs win the World Series. The Cubs have done it. The longest drought in the history of American sports is over and the celebration begins."
In the hallway outside the raucous visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field after the game, Hughes said he couldn't exactly remember what he said, only that he was frozen by the moment.
"I'm thrilled," he said. "It hasn't even sunk in yet. But it was fun to just be a part of it. I can see how this is something you'd want to do many times before your career is over, because it was sure exciting."
Hughes is the first Cubs play-by-play man to call the team winning the World Series, considering that the last time the Cubs won it 108 years ago was before the dawn of radio. The Cubs didn't even begin broadcasting games until 1924, a decade after Wrigley Field opened on Chicago's North Side.
The old yard had never been home to a World Series champion and Hughes recently called the first National League pennant the Cubs won since 1945 when they defeated the Dodgers, 5-0, in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series at Wrigley on Oct. 20.
"It was extremely thrilling, one of the highlights of my life," Hughes said before the start of the World Series about calling that event. "It was a very sweet moment when three of the things I love most came together in that moment and that is the Cubs, baseball and broadcasting."
Hughes said he had no plans to pre-script his call if the Cubs should somehow win the World Series. In the end, with left-hander Mike Montgomery on the mound, Martinez at the plate and the potential tying run on first, Hughes had his moment. He started his Cubs broadcasting tenure with the late Ron Santo in the booth with him and currently partners with Ron Coomer, another former player, who was at his side Wednesday.
"I've been around 21 years and I've seen some good teams, but probably many more bad teams," Hughes said. "So this is particularly gratifying to be part of such a wonderful team. And it's a great bunch of people, too. Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, all of their staffs, the ballplayers. There's not really a bad apple anywhere.
"I'm sorry Ronnie wasn't here. He would have loved it. So would've Ernie Banks and Harry Caray. There's a long list of those guys, who are no longer with us. But a lot of them are and this is for them."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.