The Chicago Cubs are on the verge of clinching their first postseason berth in seven years and manager Joe Maddon is ready to celebrate.

While seven years without postseason baseball probably seems like a lifetime for younger Cubs fans, the older generation suffered through a much longer drought, known to many as "The Dark Ages."

The North Siders experienced a period of 39 years between postseason appearances after losing a seven-game series to the Tigers in the 1945 Fall Classic.

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On Sept. 24, 1984, the misery ended. The Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1, thanks to a two-hit complete-game effort by Rick Sutcliffe, to clinch the NL Central, ending nearly four decades of futility.

Sutcliffe, who came to the Cubs that season in a midseason trade from the Cleveland Indians, didn't realize what was on the line heading into that fateful night.


He saw a sign that said "39 years" and asked a fan what it meant.

"He said, 'We haven't been to the playoffs in 39 years,'" Sutcliffe recalled. "I didn't mean it to be cocky or anything, but I said to him. 'After tonight, that's all going to change. I promise you that.'"

The celebration (which included an iconic scene of Harry Caray partying), however, was short lived.

After leading the San Diego Padres two games to none, the Cubs lost the next three games, falling one game short of reaching the World Series.

Sutcliffe went on to win the NL Cy Young Award that season, while teammate Ryne Sandberg was crowned NL MVP and manager Jim Frey won Manager of the Year.

Now, 31 years later, the Cubs are on the brink of changing their hard-luck past.