Now that October is here, a baseball fan’s thoughts automatically take an epic turn to places like Yankee Stadium, Network Associates Coliseum, or Safeco Field — to the game’s immortals locked in heroic struggle for the ultimate prize: the World Series crown.
Chicago Cubs fans, of course, never have to waste their time worrying about all that mythic stuff. Their heroes, not content to have feet of clay, have arms and bats made of it, too. The last time a Cubs team played in the World Series was 1945, when they lost in seven games to the Detroit Tigers. The last time the Cubs won a world championship, Teddy Roosevelt was president; the 1908 Cubs beat the Tigers (now there’s rivalry for the ages) four games to one. 93 years of falling short. Forget the Boston Red Sox; this record of futility has never been matched in Major League Baseball.
The fans of baseball’s most lovable losers are a special breed unto themselves, too, especially those who sit in the outfield bleacher seats. That’s why when actor Joe Mantegna and members of Chicago’s Organic Theater Company wrote their bitter/funny, acerbically pre-Mamet stage show Bleacher Bums in 1978, it touched a nerve. The play, which sets us down in a group of Cubs fans bickering and betting during a pointless afternoon game, won an Emmy and has been a staple of repertory companies and community playhouses ever since, usually during baseball season.
Irv Siegel, managing director of Act Now!, chose Bleacher Bums for the company’s third season because of the universality of its appeal. “You don’t have to be from Chicago, or even a baseball fan, to enjoy this play,” says Siegel. “It’s basically a bunch of guys trying to outdo each other. Each one is trying to win something, either a bet or recognition.”
Act Now!’s production of Bleacher Bums, starring Tom Mercer, David Judson, Rebecca Michaels, Aaron Begg, and Wayne Johnson, opens Friday, October 5 and plays Thursdays through Sundays through October 27, at the Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Tickets: 925-943-7469. Go Cubs.