'Back to the Future' writer says 2015 Cubs prediction no longer a joke
The screenwriter of 1989's "Back to the Future Part II" -- which famously has the Cubs winning the 2015 World Series -- meant it as a joke.
But Bob Gale -- a born and bred St. Louis Cardinals fan -- says it's not impossible for the Cubs to go all the way this year.
"Whether the Cubs make it or the Cubs don't make it, the joke will still be funny," Gale said recently from his Southern California home. "And if the Cubs do make it, then I'm a visionary."
If the Cubs defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in tonight's do-or-die wild-card playoff, they'll face the Cardinals in a best-of-five division series starting Friday.
In the sequel to the 1985 blockbuster "Back To The Future," Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) takes the DeLorean time machine to the year 2015. He is watching a "holomax" (think hologram and IMAX, Gale says) broadcast the news in the town square and is stunned to see the Cubs have beaten Miami in the World Series.
"Being a baseball fan, I thought, 'OK, let's come up with one of the most unlikely scenarios we can think of,'" said Gale, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Chicagoan Robert Zemeckis.
"Back in the day, seeing the movie with an audience, that always got a laugh," Gale recalled.
Zemeckis isn't a huge baseball fan, Gale said, though he does favor the White Sox since he is from the South Side.
Players on this year's Cubs -- some of whom were alive in 1989 -- are aware of the movie.
Jake Arrieta, tonight's starting pitcher, said back in January that the coincidence between the 1989 movie and the 2015 season is "crazy, to say the least."
"So we'll do our best to make sure that happens," he said.
After all, other visions of the future from "Back To The Future Part II" have come true -- like video conferencing and watching multiple TV channels at the same time.
So who's not to say the 2015 Cubs can take some inspiration from the Hollywood flick?
"Life imitates art, as they say," Gale said.
Not in everything. In the movie, the Cubs sweep Miami in five games (not four) on Oct. 21, 2015. Miami didn't have a baseball team in 1989, so Gale gets points for thinking they would by 2015. But the Miami Marlins play in the National League, so it would be impossible for them to face the Cubs in the World Series.
Gale also said he made the mistake of naming the team after a gator, since that is the University of Florida's mascot.
The earliest this year's World Series could end is Oct. 31. Gale thinks his Oct. 21 prediction would have been about right had Major League Baseball not added an extra round of playoff games.
Gale was 7 or 8 when he went to his first baseball game, at old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.
The Cardinals were playing the Cubs, and the hometown crowd applauded a "spectacular play" made by Ernie Banks.
"I turned to my dad and I said, 'Why are they clapping? He got our guy out.' He said, 'That was great baseball, and whenever you see great baseball, you applaud it.'"
In 1970 Gale left for film school at the University of Southern California, where he met Zemeckis.
But he has never lost his love of the Cardinals.
He has faith however, that Cardinals fans won't make him a scapegoat if the Cubs actually do win.
"Cardinal fans are not like Cubs fans," he says. "If the Cubs win the World Series, I will not become the St. Louis version of Steve Bartman. The Cardinal fans are too together to do that."
Still, he adds, "I think it's ironic if the Cubs do get in the World Series to think it was a Cardinal fan that helped get them there."