Players on the 1908 World Champion Chicago Cubs In High Definition Photographs
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Frank Chance was not only a stellar first baseman for the Cubs in 1908, he was also their manager. In the World Series Chance hit the only home run for the Cubs, stole five bases and batted a team leading .421.
Johnny Kling is considered the best defensive catcher of the deadball era. Many years after Kling retired from playing, in 1935 he bought a minor league team, the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. Muehlanbach Field was home not only to the Blues, but also the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs. The stadium had segregated seating. Upon taking ownership Kling eliminated that policy. When he sold the team to Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert in 1937, Ruppert reverted back to segregated seating.
Arthur “Solly” Hofman (at bat) was an all around utility player. Manager Frank Chance forbade Hofman from marrying during the season. On October 15, 1908 the day after the Cubs won the World Series Hofman married Rae Locker.
Jack Pfiester, a southpaw, was one of the Cubs starting pitchers in 1908 and had a 12-10 record. Not considered a great pitcher, Pfiester had one statistical peculiarity: he consistently beat the Giants, going 15-5 with seven shutouts in his career against them. In the 1908 World Series Pfiester got creamed in his one start, giving up eight runs in game three. It was the only loss for the Cubs in the series.
Ed Ruelbach was the other regular starting pitcher for the 1908 Cubs. He went 24-7 that year but had no decisions in the World Series. His career record was 182-106 with a 2.26 ERA.
Harry Steinfeldt the third baseman for the Cubs was a phenomenal fielder and a very good hitter batting .327 and leading the National League in RBI’s with 83 in 1906. Steinfeldt ‘s career ended in 1911 and he died of a brain hemorrhage in 1914 at the age of 37.
Jimmy Sheckard was a fleet outfielder who had a good eye walking 1135 times and stealing 465 bases in a 17 year career. In the 1908 World Series Sheckard had five hits in five games for a .234 batting average.
The early years of baseball were great for colorful nicknames. But too many players with German ancestry who were named Henry ended up being nicknamed “Heinie.” Heinie Zimmerman did not get into the 1908 World Series, but then again he was only 21-years-old and backing up Johnny Evers. Zimmerman had a 13 year major league career and compiled a .295 batting average.