Theo Epstein’s Yale Commencement Speech About The Chicago Cubs World Series Win Is Epic
Theo Epstein is President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. He’s the man who is at least partially credited with ending the longest championship drought in professional sports history when the Cubs won a World Series last season after 108 years. Theo Epstein is also a Yale grad. He graduated in 1995 with a degree in American Studies and took his first job as a PR assistant with the Baltimore Orioles.
After winning years of rebuilding the Chicago Cubs organization from within and FINALLY winning those ‘lovable losers’ a World Series after 108 years, Theo Epstein was invited back to Yale University as the 2017 Commencement speaker. In his commencement speech, Theo Epstein regaled the Yale grads with his story of Game 7 of the World Series. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s epic. Over at TheAthletic.com they have the entire transcript of his speech, but below you can find Theo’s story without the introductions:
Back in 2002, when at 28 years old, I stumbled into becoming General Manager of the Red Sox, days after I was hired, my boss, Larry Lucchino was visiting an old baseball colleague of his — President George W. Bush, Class of ’68 — in the White House. President Bush asked, “What are you doing naming a 28-year-old as general manager.” He said, “That’s far too young. That’s an absurd risk.” Lucchino replied, “No, No, Mr. President, you don’t understand. He’s a Yale man.” To which the President replied, “Strike two!”
Like the former President, I didn’t do anything too serious with my career. I just worked in baseball.
Yes — (it’s) America’s national pastime, but also largely just part of the bread and circuses of society, entertaining and distracting us, while others like my twin brother Paul, who is here today, a social worker, do the real work of holding our communities together.
But there are certainly times when baseball is much more than bread and circus. Times when baseball resonates deeply and meaningfully for many, many people. And times when a game that is built around overcoming failure can teach us all a few important lessons. So, Class of 2017, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to tell just one baseball story. It’s a bit long, but you’ll like the ending. Unless you’re from Cleveland, in which case I’m deeply sorry.
The story is about a very important game, Game 7 of last year’s World Series, but it has little to do with the actual outcome of the game. For those that don’t follow baseball, a real quick background: I work for the Chicago Cubs. A team with a following so loyal and adoring and a history so forlorn, that we were known nationwide as the “Lovable Losers.”
As of last fall, the Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908. Think about that, 1908. That’s the Teddy Roosevelt administration. The Ottoman Empire was still around. Kidding. That’s two world wars ago. Which, I haven’t checked the news since breakfast, just give me one second. (Checks phone off to the side) Good news, that’s still just two world wars ago.
All in all, it was a 108-year drought. The longest in the history of professional sports. But as the late Cubs broadcasting legend Jack Brickhouse used to say, “Anybody can have a bad century.”