CHICAGO -- Twenty-six years after its theatrical release, "Back to the Future Part II" still resonates with Chicago Cubs fans because it depicted the team as World Series champion in 2015. After an offseason of major additions, and the popular notion that the Cubs have some of the top-ranked young players in the game, people are starting to believe the movie's prediction could possibly come true.
“They’re smart,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said recently of the movie’s writers/producers. “‘Back to the Future’ said we’re going to win in 2015. We’re going to be a fun team.”
Bob Gale wrote and produced all three "Back to the Future" movies while Bob Zemeckis co-wrote and directed all of them. Since the calendar flipped to the New Year, Gale has been hearing about the prediction he wrote so long ago.
“It’s fabulous,” Gale said from California in a phone interview. “As a filmmaker, you’re always happy people are watching the movie and remembering it.”
For those who don’t recall the scene, the star of the film, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) had just arrived in 2015 from 1985. While marveling at the futuristic look of the town -- flying cars and all -- he sees a hologram billboard congratulating the Cubs on winning the World Series in a sweep over Miami -- which didn’t even have a team when the scene was written.
“Wait a minute, Cubs win World Series?” McFly says. “Against Miami?”
Gale explains: “What was going to make a kid from 1985 drop his jaw open? It had to be the Cubs. It’s October so it’s the World Series. And I was reading there were going to be some expansion teams in the near future so I took a shot and went with Miami.
“There’s two jokes there. Marty is amazed that the Cubs would win and they would win by beating Miami. We were right, there would be a franchise in Miami, we just got the league wrong.”
McFly comes up with the idea of buying a sports almanac he sees in a storefront window and then going back in time and betting on all the winners before the games are played. Gale says he hears often about the scene, especially now.
“The idea of sports betting is a primary plot,” Gale explained. “We needed to show that.”
“I know a lot of diehard Cubs fans and they’re all taking this as gospel. It’s pretty funny. If this inspires the Cubs to play better, God bless them. If that happens I hope Joe Maddon will remember that and get us some tickets.”
The irony of it all is that Gale grew up in Missouri and is a St. Louis Cardinals fan while co-writer Zemeckis grew up on Chicago’s South Side as a White Sox fan. They enjoyed including the Cubs in the scene while taking a back-handed jab at them.
“For better or worse, the Cubs are internationally known for being the lovable slobs that never get all the way there,” he joked.
Having said that, first and foremost, Gale is a baseball fan. As a boy, he remembers Cardinals fans clapping for the late Ernie Banks after a great play in the field and asking his dad why they were cheering.
“We cheer good baseball,” Gale recalls his dad saying.
So the writer has no problem with his prediction coming true in 2015. In fact, he’s heard it from the Marlins as well.
“I know the Miami team is thinking about it too,” Gale said. “Probably everybody in Major League Baseball knows that scene.”
If this was a year or two ago there would be no chance at the prediction coming true, but winter additions like ace pitcher Jon Lester, catcher Miguel Montero and new manager Maddon, combined with a talented base of young players, are giving hope to an organization that last won a championship in 1908. Gale is well aware of what his script's prediction is up against.
“Everybody got a big kick out of it,” Gale said. “We’re happy baseball fans have seen our movie and think this could be how it would be.”
The two writers are working on a musical based on the original movie and may have to re-write the famous scene if they get to doing a sequel on stage, but right now, they’re just enjoying people recalling their movie so fondly.
“I know in ‘Back to the Future’ we win it in 2015, which is kind of crazy, to say the least,” Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “We’ll do our best to make sure that happens.”