When the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks face off for the Stanley Cup starting Wednesday night, it will be a duel of historic NHL franchises that have never met on hockey’s grandest stage. In fact, Boston and Chicago have had very little championship contact in any sport, which is surprising considering the size and collective athletic histories of both cities.

It can't happen in the NBA with the Celtics and Bulls in the same conference. But there have been just two
Boston-Chicago matchups for a major professional sports championship: The 1918 World Series and the 1986 Super Bowl. Here is a look back at some highlights and comparisons from those series.

Lasting Cultural Legacy

1918 World Series: Curse of the Bambino

The 86 years between 1918 and 2004 were miserable for Boston fans. Popular lore traced their World Series drought to the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season. Although talk of a "curse' did not really surface until the late 20th century, there was still a feeling of demons being exorcised when they won in 2004. But the fans of Boston’s 1918 World Series opponent, the Cubs, are still waiting for their drought of more than a century to end.

Super Bowl XX: Super Bowl Shuffle

Months before they actually won the Super Bowl, the Bears released a rap video called “The Super Bowl Shuffle” that featured the team rhyming and dancing to the catchy tune. Long before the YouTube era, the Bears could be considered pioneers of the team music video (think Miami Heat Harlem Shake), and they made good on that Super Bowl promise.

Fun Fact

1918 World Series:

The Cubs' home games in the World Series were played at Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. Four-year-old Wrigley Field, then known as Weeghman Park, did not yet have sufficient seating capacity to host the World Series.

Super Bowl XX:

The Bears ran defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan's "46 Defense" and then beat the Patriots 46-10. Named for Bears strong safety Doug Plank (above, left), who wore jersey No. 46, the blitz-happy scheme gave opposing offenses nightmares in the mid-1980s. Although no modern-day NFL team runs a true “46,” the scheme still has widespread influence.

Iconic Player

1918 World Series: Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth carried the Red Sox to three World Series titles with his arm before leading the Yankees to four with his bat. He is third all-time with 714 home runs and ranks tops in MLB history in Wins Above Replacement, according to both Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. Ruth won Games 1 and 4 of the 1918 World Series.

Super Bowl XX: Walter Payton

The former NFL rushing king played all 13 of his seasons with the Bears. Although he was nearing the end by the 1986 Super Bowl, he managed to run for 1,551 yards during the regular season when his 4.8 yards per carry was the second highest of his career. He carried the ball 22 times for 61 yards in the Super Bowl victory.

Battle of the Nicknames

1918 World Series: Hippo Vaughn, Bullet Joe Bush, Sad Sam Jones

James "Hippo" Vaughn was a pitcher for the Cubs, while Bush and Jones pitched for the Red Sox. Vaughn was the losing pitcher in Games 1 and 3 but beat Jones in Game 5. Jones earned his nickname for his demeanor on the mound, though winning the series hopefully made him a little happier. Bush, who is credited with popularizing the forkball pitch, picked up a save in Game 4 despite losing Game 2. George Herman Ruth also had quite a few nicknames himself.

Super Bowl XX: William "The Refrigerator” Perry

It’s easy to understand why the massive defensive lineman was known as “The Refrigerator.” He earned the nickname as a freshman at Clemson University, when he helped the Tigers to a national title. The name followed him into the NFL, and in his rookie season with the Bears, Perry scored a Super Bowl touchdown on a goal-line sneak.

American Pastime

1918 World Series:

The Star-Spangled Banner is now a mainstay of American sporting events, but not until Game 1 of the 1918 World Series. It was performed infrequently leading up to the seventh inning stretch of that contest. Now, of course, the National Anthem is sung before the first pitch.

Super Bowl XX:

Baseball is still regarded as America’s pastime, but television ratings for the Super Bowl have consistently crushed those of the World Series. The 48.3 rating for the 1986 Bears-Patriots matchup at the New Orleans Superdome has been unmatched in the 27 years since.

Major Controversy

1918 World Series:

Like boxing and horse racing, baseball was a sport heavily influenced by gamblers in the early 20th century. The Black Sox Scandal saw eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox banned from the game for intentionally losing the World Series. Similar accusations surrounded the previous World Series, though neither definitive proof nor punishment came from them. "It seems more likely that there would have been a fix than there would not have been," baseball historian John Thorn told The New York Times in 2011. Perhaps the Cubs' alleged fix of the ’18 series is the real cause of their curse, and North Siders should stop blaming that poor billy goat.

Super Bowl XX:

Bears head coach Mike Ditka and his defensive coordinator Ryan may have been a dynamic coaching duo, but the relationship could best be described as Kobe-Shaq-esque. Ryan, the father of outspoken New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and longtime NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, was the architect of Chicago’s historically stingy defense. Ditka allowed Ryan full authority over the defense, yet there was little love between the two men. On one rare occasion when Ditka did attempt to interfere in a defensive meeting, the two nearly came to blows. After Chicago's Super Bowl victory, Ryan left to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and it's safe to say that Ditka didn't send flowers.

Presidential Connections

1918 World Series:

For star Cub and future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, one presidential connection is obvious. The ace pitcher was born in 1887 during the first Cleveland administration, and Alexander's father hoped he would become a lawyer like the president for whom he was named. But the son's talent was baseball, and he played well enough to be portrayed by future president Ronald Reagan in a 1952 feature film, "The Winning Team."

Super Bowl XX:

Before he became president, Barack Obama had coasted into the Senate on the heels of a blowout election victory in 2004. However, that election may not have been so close if Ditka had run, which was a very real possibility. Republican leaders in Illinois hotly pursued the ex-Bears coach, after a scandal doomed the GOP frontrunner, but he turned down their overtures to remain a television analyst. A loss for the young Obama in that Senate race may have derailed his political aspirations.

Been There, Done That?

1918 World Series:

Although the struggles of the Red Sox and Cubs have been documented ad nauseam, they were in fact two of baseball's dominant early franchises. 1918 marked the fifth World Series appearance and fifth title for Boston (including one as the Boston Americans in 1903). The Cubs were also playing in their fifth World Series, but they would lose for the third time.

Super Bowl XX:

Contrary to their experienced championship counterparts in baseball, the New England and Chicago football teams were both making their Super Bowl debuts in 1986. It is the most recent time in NFL history that two franchises have debuted against each other in the season’s grand finale.

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