Fowler Cubs' first African-American in Series

Center fielder will be first up in Game 1; Heyward, Edwards, Russell also honored by distinction

October 23rd, 2016

CLEVELAND -- The Cubs had just secured their first World Series appearance since 1945, and as Saturday night became early Sunday morning, could not stop scrolling through Twitter. As he sifted through the congratulations and the celebrating fans, he came across a surprising fact.

That last World Series appearance for the Cubs came two years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947, so when Fowler steps into the batter's box to start tonight's Game 1 against , he will become the first African-American player to appear in a World Series game for the Cubs.

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"That's crazy," Fowler said during World Series media day on Monday. "It's crazy to even think about that, because you look back and you look at your parents, my parents weren't even alive then. It's a lifetime. It's awesome to be the pioneer, the first one."

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These Cubs normally don't talk much about history. In fact, they might not be here if they thought about it, if they allowed the pressure from 108 years of Cubs frustration to affect them. But this is history they could embrace.

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Robinson integrated baseball in 1947, but the Cubs did not have a black player on their roster until Ernie Banks made the team in 1953. Chicago figures to have four African-American players on its roster for this World Series -- Fowler, , and .

"It's still mind-blowing," Edwards said. "It's like breaking another barrier."

"That's a huge accomplishment," Russell said. "To be in this situation is a joy in itself, but to have that and then hopefully be in the record books for something spectacular like that, I think that's going to be pretty huge, not only for me, but for my family and some of the other guys' families as well."

"Man, it's cool," Heyward said. "It's a unique thing, it's a positive thing, definitely not a negative thing for there to be a first. There's got to be a first time for everything."

Both Russell and Edwards said they found out like Fowler, by scrolling through Twitter to discover this latest history-making moment for these Cubs.

"Wow ... speechless. Thanks for sharing this fact. I will carry it with me," Fowler wrote in a tweet at 3:47 a.m. CT on Sunday. He expanded Monday: "You look at it and you're like, 'Wow.' That's when it really sinks in, it's like you are the first African-American to play in a World Series as a Cub."

It could have been Banks or Billy Williams or Ferguson Jenkins, but the Cubs have not been on this stage in 71 years. And it's something that Fowler will take great pride in.

"And it all wouldn't be possible without Jackie," Fowler said.