CHICAGO — The dominant feature of Lake View Cemetery in East Cleveland is the James A. Garfield Memorial, a hulking tower that is the final resting place for our 20th president. The volunteers who work at the memorial know chapter and verse of Garfield’s fascinating life and makes the visit wholly worthwhile.

Yet, what grabbed me when I first walked through Lake View was a headstone festooned with baseballs, caps and mitts on all of its flat surfaces. I had no idea of the back story, or of the pilgrims who still leave gifts. The name “Raymond Johnson Chapman” (1891-1920) did not ring a bell. Dead at 29? What happened?

Chapman was a beloved shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. He was a sterling defensive player, at times a .300 hitter, a noted base-stealer and one of the best bunters of the dead ball era. He was beaned by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays and died in a New York hospital 12 hours later. His death led to the rule requiring umpires to exchange dirty baseballs for clean ones. It also led to a ban on spitballs.

August 17, 1920, is the date of Chapman’s death.

Not three months later, on Oct. 12, 1920, the Indians finished off the Brooklyn Robins at Dunn Park (later League Park) in Cleveland and won the 18th World Series.

It was Cleveland’s first victory in a major professional team sport. Of course, at that time, baseball was the only major professional sport. That is important to remember.

The Indians came into being in 1901. They won the World Series for the second time in 1948, at which point the Browns were a 2-year-old toddler playing in a second-rate football league. The next time the Indians made a World Series appearance was in 1954, when the NBA was a tiny niche league and the Cavaliers were not even a gleam in anyone’s eye.

I bring all of this up to counterbalance all of the nostalgia and sentimentality that has been slathered on the Chicago Cubs, the Indians’ opponent in this year’s World Series. Stephen King, the author and Red Sox fan, tweeted on the subject the other day: “Enough with the Cubs! How about some love for the Cleveland Indians! GO Tribe!” Although I am not a fan of exclamation points (!), he is a pretty good writer and his point is valid.

Decades of Cleveland suffering was assuaged by LeBron James’ dramatic delivery of an NBA title five months ago. What the Indians stabbed at this October is something else. Baseball is a symphony of America’s sports history and the Indians grabbed for the baton.

This is for the 1954 Indians, who were swept by the New York Giants and Willie Mays’ glove (“The Catch”) and Dusty Rhodes’ suddenly-hot bat.

This is for all the Indians Hall of Famers — Nap Lajoie and Elmer Flick, Roberto Alomar and Earl Averill, and Early Wynn, Al Lopez and Addie Joss, the “Human Hairpin” — who never won it all.

This is for all the great Indians — Sandy Alomar Jr. and Omar Vizquel, Rocky Colavito and Charles Nagy, Carlos Baerga, Mel Harder and Mike Hargrove, the “Human Rain Delay,” to name a few — who got close or never got a whiff.

This is for 10-cent beer night in 1974.

It is for Jose Mesa, who blew the save in the 1997 World Series, and for the 2007 Indians, who blew a 3-1 lead in the ALCS.

It is for millions of long-suffering Indians fans, and for their forebears who listened to Jimmy Dudley on the radio.

And it is for Ray Chapman, who died much too soon in 1920.