Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

1945 Cubs Sluggers and A 1948 Indians Championship

The Last Time:

Cubs In World Series, 1945; Indians Were World Champions, 1948

Cubs May Have Had Sluggers, But They Still Lost to Tigers in ’45; Indians Prevailed Over Braves in ’48

1945 Cubs Sluggers: Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

1945 Cubs Sluggers: (l-r) Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

The news photograph above was captioned “1945 Cubs Sluggers.” That may be a bit of a misnomer as Harry “Peanuts” Lowery hit seven home runs in 143 games, the most he ever hit in his 13 year career.

Frank Secory hit no homers in 35 games. Bill “Swish” Nicholson, the only true slugger in this photograph led the National League in homers in 1943 and 1944 with 29 and 33 home runs respectively. In 1945 Nicholson led the Cubs with a mere 13 home runs in 151 games. Andy Pafko hit 12 home runs and drove in 110 runs in 144 games. And Ed Sauer had two homers in 49 games.

As a team the 1945 Cubs hit only 57 home runs. On the other hand their pitchers allowed only 57 home runs.

In the closely contested World Series, none of the “Cubs sluggers” hit a home run. National League MVP Phil Caverretta hit the only homer and led the Cubs with a .423 batting average.

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Before game 4 of the World Series began, this photo was taken. The caption reads: Continue reading

These Are The World Champion 1908 Chicago Cubs

Players on the 1908 World Champion Chicago Cubs In High Definition Photographs

Joe Tinker Second Baseman of the 1908 Chicago Cubs

Joe Tinker, Shortstop 1908 Chicago Cubs

For the moment it seems all of America is talking about the Chicago Cubs. As everyone now knows it has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series four games to one against the Detroit Tigers.

But what do you know of the 1908 Cubs team?

Maybe you’ve heard of Tinker to Evers to Chance the famous Cubs double play combination immortalized in a newspaper poem by the once legendary Franklin P. Adams. It should be noted that off the field Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers refused to speak to one another. Besides the trio of Cubs Hall-of Famers, you probably know little of the 1908 Cubbies.

Johnny Kling, Catcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Kling, Catcher 1908 Chicago Cubs (check out that bat!)

The 1908 Cubs are comprised of forgotten names. Their achievements are just dusty remnants that reside only in the record books. There is no one alive today who actually saw the 1908 Chicago Cubs play.

They were a hardened lot, these players. They usually had to work at other jobs in the off-season. It was a time when baseball players scrambled for a job on one of 16 ball clubs. They had to be constantly looking over their shoulder because there was always some youngster trying to take their $2,000 a year baseball job.

At least we can see what they looked like. We’re bringing the Chicago Cubs of 1908 back to you in high definition photographs. All photographs are from the Library of Congress and can be clicked on for enlargement in great detail.

With their heavy flannel uniforms, small fingered gloves, heavy bats and grizzled looks, here are some of the 1908 Chicago Cubs:

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, really only had three fingers, his index finger was a stump that was the result of catching his hand in a corn shredder when he was seven-years-old. That accident gave Brown an odd spin on his fastball which confounded hitters. He won 239 games while losing only 130 in his career. His ERA was 2.06, the third lowest in history for pitchers with over 2,000 innings.

In the 1908 World Series Brown was one of two star pitchers, winning two games against the Detroit Tigers. Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.

Orval Overall Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

Orval Overall Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs

You would think anyone named Orval Overall would be remembered just because of his name. A short career doomed Orval to obscurity despite a 108-71 lifetime record with a 2.23 ERA. There was no Tommy John surgery when Overall hurt his arm and his career was over in 1913 at age 32.  Overall won the other two games for the Cubs in the 1908 World Series.

Johnny Evers Shortstop 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Evers Second Baseman 1908 Chicago Cubs

Johnny Evers was considered one of the scrappiest and smartest players to ever play the game. Evers batted .300 in 1908 and .350 in the World Series. If you enlarge the photograph you will see a man who had lived quite a bit. This photograph of Evers is from 1913 when he was only 32. Continue reading

Pitchers Hitting In The Postseason

It Still Happens – Pitchers Hitting In The Postseason (And Making A Difference)

sandy-koufax-singles-world-series-october-12-1965This photograph of pitcher Sandy Koufax shows a rarity.

In 20 times at bat, Dodger great, Sandy Koufax got only one hit in postseason play.

Koufax is leaving the batters box after stroking a single in game six of the 1965 World Series driving in Ron Fairly. Koufax’s single gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh in an eventual 7-0 shutout over the Minnesota Twins. It wasn’t Koufax’s hitting that won the game, it was the complete game, four hitter with 10 strikeouts that he hurled. Still to everyone watching, sans Twin fans, Koufax’s hit was a pleasant surprise.

The Dodgers went on to win the seventh game and Koufax was named the series MVP.

Koufax was one of the worst hitters ever, compiling a miniscule .097 career batting average over 12 seasons. But no one ever came to see Koufax hit, they came to see him pitch. As bad as a hitter as Koufax was there was always the slim chance that he might get a base hit. And when he did guess what? It was exciting.

The use of the designated hitter in the American League and the DH’s use in World Series games only in American League ballparks has effectively eliminated the thrill out of watching the pitcher impacting the game with his bat.

So in this day and age when it is considered a shock when a pitcher comes to the plate and gets a hit, it is refreshing to see pitchers in the 2016 postseason hitting and making a difference in many games.

Travis Wood homers photo: Dennis Wierzbicki USA Today

Travis Wood homers photo: Dennis Wierzbicki USA Today

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was actually used as a pinch-hitter in game two of the NLDS playoff game against the Cubs.  In that same game, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks singled in two runs and reliever Travis Wood blasted a home run against the Giants pitcher George Kontos.

Then in the next game of the series Cubs starter Jake Arrieta hit a three run homer against the Giants. In the fourth inning of game 4 Giants pitcher Matt Moore singled home the go ahead run in a losing effort.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw helped his own cause in game four against the Washington Nationals by doubling and scoring the go-ahead run in what ended up being a 6-5 L.A. victory.

If you polled baseball fans most would say they want more offense and never have pitchers bat. Continue reading

Gangster Al Capone Goes To A Baseball Game

Hall-of-Famer Gabby Hartnett Signs Autographs For Al Capone and His Son – 1931

Al Capone sees a Cubs game with son as Gabby Hartnett signs autograph 1931 9 10Associated Press Photo From Chicago

Al Capone takes his son to the ball game surrounded by his watchful lieutenants. Chicago’s gang chief and his 12-year-old son, Al Jr., get Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs to autograph a baseball just before the Cubs defeated the White Sox, 3 to 0, in a charity game before 35,000 spectators at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Sept. 9. Pictures of Capone before the public are not frequent, and a pose with his son is rare. He affectionately calls the boy “Sonny.”

Note the watchfulness of one of his bodyguards directly behind him. A pop-corn vendor evidently rubbed his shoulder and he looks ready to protect his chief. 9-9-31

This photograph made me wonder if Al Capone’s bodyguards were licensed to carry firearms and if they were packing heat when they visited Comiskey Park? It certainly looks like the bodyguard is reaching into his jacket to pull out his “roscoe” or maybe it was his wallet to pay for the popcorn.

One other thing to note: “Sonny,” does not look thrilled to be at the ballpark, much less getting an autograph from Gabby Hartnett.

Jackie Robinson Forced Out At Second By Ernie Banks 1955

May 11, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers 11 Game Winning Streak Comes To An End

Jackie Robinson forced out at second base as Ernie Banks leaps over him May 11, 1955 photo: UPI

Jackie Robinson forced out at second base as Ernie Banks leaps over him May 11, 1955 photo: UPI

The New York Mets recent 10 game winning streak in 2015 may be a sign from the baseball gods that good things are in store for them. For inspiration the Mets can look back 60 years to the winning streak the Brooklyn Dodgers assembled on their way to their only World Series Championship.

The caption for this news photo says:

Chicago: Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn, forced at second in 7th inning of Dodgers – Cubs game here 5/11 as shortstop Ernie Banks throws to first for double play on grounder hit to second baseman Gene Baker by Carl Furillo. Umpire Art Gore calls the play. Cubs won 10-8 halting Dodgers’ winning streak at 11. photo United Press 5/11/55

What many fans may forget is that the Dodgers opened the season on April 13 and won their first ten games. By the time their 11 game winning streak was broken by the Cubs on May 11 they were 22-3 and held on to first place for the entire season. Continue reading

Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs Player-Manager circa 1912

Frank Chance, Subject of Baseball’s Most Famous Poem

Frank Chance 1912These 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.”

Just what is a “gonfalon” anyway? It is a pennant or a flag.

When columnist Franklin P. Adams wrote the poem “That Double Play Again” (later retitled “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”) in 1910, Frank Chance was the manager and first baseman of the Chicago Cubs. With double play partners Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker, the three would be immortalized first in the popular poem and later in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Chance played for the Cubs from 1898 -1912 and was claimed off waivers by the Reds after the 1912 season. A month later he was claimed off waivers again from the Reds by the Yankees. In 1913, Chance became the manager of the New York Yankees and played a few games at first base.

He managed the Yankees for two seasons, leading the team to 7th place in 1913 and 6th place in 1914.

Frank Chance died at the age of 48 on  September 15, 1924. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946, 22 years after his death by the Old Timers Committee.

Vintage Photos – Stealing Home

or Jackie Robinson Makes Stealing Home Look Easy

One of the most famous film highlights of a baseball game is from September 28, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series where the Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson stole home against the New York Yankees. The photograph above captures the bang-bang action. The play was incredibly close and you could look at the film 100 times and still not be sure of the outcome. Robinson was called safe by umpire Bill Summers. To this day, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently Continue reading

Baseball Theme Songs

When Baseball Teams Had Their Own Unique Songs

Dodge Dart radioWhen my Dad and I would drive places at night in the 1970’s, my father would put on the Baltimore radio station, WBAL-AM to hear the Orioles games. At night the radio signals were stronger and you could pick up most of the bigger radio station’s broadcasts within a 400 mile range, so he would listen. I vividly remember the upbeat song that used to be played to start the O’s broadcast. I searched the internet and have had no luck finding “Orioles Baseball” which is what I believe the title was. But I have collected a number of baseball theme songs and thought I would share them.

For every baseball fan who can remember…

(click on link to hear the mp3 of the song)

Yankees Theme Song

In the 1970’s when I was listening to the radio, before the start of every ball game, the New York Yankees would have their theme played. The Yankees announcers, Phil Rizutto, Frank Messer and Bill White would eventually talk over the song and it would fade out. At the end of the game they would play the theme again. The Yankees still play a truncated version of the song at the beginning and conclusion of games on the radio, but they rarely play this version with the lyrics.

Mets Theme Song

Musically well constructed and simply the best song ever written for a team with its catchy lyrics. The “Meet The Mets” song still holds up nearly 50 years after the Mets introduction to New York. This version is the original version. (ed note: strangely enough I wrote this article on June 30 and originally scheduled it to be posted on July 5. I moved it up to July 3 after seeing that the writer of the Mets theme song Ruth Roberts passed away Friday, July 1 at age 84.)

Cubs Theme Song

If you grew up in Chicago you may remember “Hey, Hey Holy Mackarel” which was the Chicago Cubs song.

White Sox Theme Song

Now, if you were a Chicago White Sox fan, the song dear to your heart would be “Let’s Go, Go, Go White Sox.”

Tigers Theme Song

In the late 1960’s this is what the Detroit Tigers were playing – “Go Get ‘Um Tigers.” Continue reading

How to Win the World Series – Don’t Hit! Presenting the 1906 White Sox

Nicknamed The “Hitless Wonders”: The 1906 Chicago White Sox.

Portrait White Sox catcher Billy Sullivan 1909 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

This dour looking man shared the team lead for the Chicago White Sox in home runs in 1906. His name was Billy Sullivan. He was the team’s catcher. He batted .218.

Billy Sullivan in 1910 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

Billy Sullivan and Joe Sugden in 1901 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

The other slugger to lead the team in home runs was outfielder / playing manager Fielder Jones. He batted .230.

fielder Jones at South Side Park 1905 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

Fielder Jones & Frank Isbell 1907 Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

Fielder Jones Base Hit vs. Cubs Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

Sullivan and Jones each had two home runs.  This is the shared record with the 1907 Cubs for fewest amount of home runs for an individual team leader on a modern (post 1903) world championship team. Let’s give the 1907 Cubs some credit they walloped nearly double the number the White Sox did in 1906 by hitting 13 home runs.

The White Sox hit a total of seven home runs in 1906. Count them, seven.

The White Sox batted collectively .230. They did not have one .300 hitter who had more than ten at bats. Pitcher Frank Smith had a higher batting average  (.293)  than any other regular starter. They did finish in first place with a 93-58 record.

In the 1906 World Series against the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs the Sox  hit even lower, batting a collective .198.

1906 World Series West Side Grounds Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

1906 World Series fans Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

The Cubs had won a record 116 games, which is still the modern National League record for victories.

Yet the White Sox whipped the heavily favored Cubs four games to two and even managed to score eight runs in each of the last two games!