Feeling a bit like Sherlock in "Missing Three-Quarter" this weekend, when Cyril Overton came to Baker Street babbling in another language. Well, more of a dialect than another language actually, that dialect known as "sports."
Since Peoria is midway between St. Louis and Chicago, our baseball fans are split in their loyalties, often like Hatfields and McCoys, but we have enough fans of the Chicago Cubs that the word "historic" is being thrown around quite a bit in reference to the Cubs making it to the "World" Series for the first time since 1945. It has something to do with a goat, which is a part of that sports dialect I mentioned earlier that I don't speak.
But, given that I am a Sherlockian, when history rears its ancient head, I turn to the Canon to see just how the matter connects to Sherlock Holmes and thus whether or not it truly matters to those who speak my particular dialect of Sherlockiana. So . . . Sherlock Holmes and the Chicago Cubs.
Well, for starters, Sherlock Holmes retired from detection sometime in 1903. The Chicago Cubs also had a historic moment in 1903, when they changed their names from the Chicago White Stockings. You'd think that would mean the two had nothing to do with each other . . . but, nope!
Sherlock Holmes travelled to Chicago in 1912 pretending to be an Irishman named Altamont, as we know from "His Last Bow." The Cubs were in their heyday during that period, finishing third in the National League over such teams as the St. Louis Cardinals (sorry, Rob) and the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Tinkers and Evers of the well-known "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" double play combination were still playing their positions and Chance was in his final year of being player-manager. With Old St. Patrick's Church being not much more than a mile from West Side Park where the Cubs played, the idea of an Irishman taking in a game is not without possibility.
Sherlock Holmes was not much of a sports fan, of course, but he was in Chicago at that time to make connections, and as most males know, sports is a social lubricant as great as any other among our gender. As a guy three hours away from Chicago, I still have to pretend to care about such things now and then, and I'm not trying to infiltrate a secret society. Without any corroborating documentation, I would bet my life's savings on Sherlock Holmes having to converse about the Chicago Cubs sometime during his time in that city, even if he didn't make it to the ballpark.
So if Sherlock Holmes had to connect with the Chicago Cubs, I guess I will have to allow that their current attempt to win the World Series for the first time since 1908 (which Holmes surely got tired of hearing about, four years later) is somewhat "historic." I'm sure some of Chicago's many great Sherlockians have tracked Holmes's potential experiences in that city at far more detail than I, and could probably tell you what games he might have attended. (And if they haven't, get to it, current Chicago Sherlockians!) But I will end upon Holmes's great line from "Missing Three-Quarter."
"You live in a different world to me, Mr. Overton, a sweeter and healthier one. My ramifications stretch out into many sections of society, but never, I am happy to say, into amateur sport, which is the best and soundest thing in England."