Great Moments from Chicago Cubs History

There’s no team quite like the Chicago Cubs. A beloved franchise that has played continuously since 1876 (since 1903 as the Cubs), they play their home games in a National Historic Landmark, Wrigley Field. Some of baseball’s most famous and enduring players have won a Cubs uniform. They also are one of the most star-crossed teams in sports history.

The team started as the Chicago White Stockings, a charter member of the National League in 1876. They later changed the name to Chicago Colts (1890-1897) and Chicago Orphans (1898 to 1902) before settling on Chicago Cubs in 1903, the year the National League and American League began playing a World Series at the end of the season.

In those early days, the Cubs became a force. They played in nine World Series between 1903 and 1938. The club then went into one of the longest (and most famous) championship droughts in professional sports history, not winning a National League pennant again until 2016, then going on to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

The franchise has enjoyed many memorable moments over the last 145 years. Here are five of them.

1907 World Series Champions

The Cubs won their first World Series in 1907, sweeping the Detroit Tigers (with a tie in Game 1). Stellar pitching from a staff that included Mordecai Brown (who threw a seven-hit shutout in Game 5),  Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester and Ed Ruelbach shut down the Tigers hitters, including young star Ty Cobb. But this era of the Cubs is best known by first baseman (and manager) Frank Chance, second baseman Johnny Evers and shortstop Joe Tinker. The three are still known for their smooth and efficient double play combinations, immortalized in the poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” by Franklin Pierce Adams.

Told from the point of view of a New York Giants fan watching the trio in action against his team, the eight-line poem reads:

These are the saddest of possible words:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

By the way, a “gonfalon” refers to a flag or pennant. So, Adam seems to say the trio are deflating the Giants pennant hopes. Which was true enough between 1906 and 1910, when the Cubs won two World Series and four National League pennants.

2016 World Series Champions

Before the 2016 victory over Cleveland, the Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908. Adams hadn’t even authored his famous poem yet (he did that in 1910). There are many ways to put the elapse of 108 years into perspective. One of the best is to consider what was happening in 1908. World War I had not yet started. Most people use horses or their feet to get around (the Model T first started production in Detroit in 1908). The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Yes, it was a long, long time ago. Generations of Cubs fans had come and gone without watching the team even make the postseason. That changed in 2016. And it happened in dramatic fashion. The Cubs came back from being down 3-1, winning it in Game 7 in extra innings in a game delayed by the rain in Cleveland. Ben Zobrist broke the tie with an RBI double, scoring pinch runner Albert Almora.

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The 1984 Cubs Make the Playoffs

In 1984, the Cubs had not even reached the playoffs since 1945. But that year, the Cubs finished with 96 wins. Facing the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series, the team won the first two games to take a 2-0 lead. Yes, the series ended in heartbreak. But the Cubs finally had a club that made the playoffs and contended. Most Cubs fans have a fond memory of the 1984 for this reason. They ended a 39-year stretch of futility. Players include catcher Jody Davis, first baseman Leon Durham, second baseman Ryan Sandberg, third baseman Ron Cey, and pitchers Rick Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley and Steve Trout.

Woods Ks 20 at Wrigley Field

On May 6, 1998, Cubs pitcher Kerry Woods put on one of the greatest performances in Major League Baseball history. Going up against the Houston Astros, the 21-year-old Wood struck out 20 batters in just his fifth major league start. Only two other pitchers have done this. Roger Clemons did it twice, in 1986 and 1996, while pitching for the Boston Red Sox. Max Scherzer did in 2016 while pitching for the Washington Nationals.

The Homer in the Gloamin

In that 1938 season that saw the Cubs reach the World Series, the team started the last month of the season trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates. By Sept. 28, they were only a half game behind, and playing the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Locked in a 5-5 tie and with the skies starting to darken at Wrigley Field, the umpires decided to let the teams finish the 9th inning. Gabby Hartnett, with two outs and an 0-2 count, hit a game-winning homer off Mace Brown that helped propel the Cubs into the postseason. However, the New York Yankees eventually swept the Cubs in the World Series, something the Yankees did a lot in those days.

This is just five of the many greatest moments in Cubs history. But they offer a glimpse into both the sweetness and sadness the Chicago Cubs offer their fans, and often not in equal measure. Still, they remain one of the most popular teams not only in baseball, but all of sports.

Best Baseball Moments in the 1930s

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