“He’s the Yankees,” Bentel says of Mahlan.
Bentel still has the yellowed sheets with draft prices and statistics from the early years of the league, when they had to compile stats from USA Today and the only way to find out about up-and-coming players was through the annual Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball publication.
“Back in 1984, there was no Internet, so we did everything by hand. This is all typewritten because there weren’t computers,” Bentel says. “We had nothing but time. We sure as hell didn’t have girls to distract us.”
Mahlan, now a father of three teenagers, remembers compiling the statistics from the newspaper a week after a game, typing up the results, photocopying them and mailing copies to owners who would see the stats two weeks after a game.
“These days your player gets a single and you see that recorded in the standings,” says Mahlan, who admits that instant access to all sorts of baseball information takes away the advantage he once had. “I was always just a little ahead of the curve. I was into stats and sabermetrics before everybody got into that.”
The Cub Fan Club League has added and lost teams and boasted 44 owners during its history, but it has lasted eight times longer than most jobs and is twice as old as the Chicago-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which serves the more than 35 million Americans who play fantasy sports.
This year, the CFCL’s 10 owners, including those who are coming in from California and North Carolina, convened March 29 in the conference room of Bentel’s office in Lisle for the annual draft of new players.
“In our world, Christmas comes on draft day in March and on Dec. 25,” Bentel says. “And if you don’t have kids, the first Christmas is better.”