The End of the 1918 Cubs-Red Sox World Series

With the Cubs and Red Sox playing in Boston this weekend for the first time since the 1918 World Series, and some recent hoopla over the possibility that the 1918 series was thrown, I went through the Chicago Tribune archives, looking to see how they covered the last game of that series, on September 11, 1918.

The coverage was hidden far inside the front of the Tribune, with no picture or cartoon of the Cubs or Red Sox, only a short game story, a few sidebars, the box score, and the cumulative series stats. Why? Well, Joseph McCormick had just won election as the Republican nominee to be the next junior Senator from Illinois: the Tribune’s huge headline was “McCORMICK WINS”
Look at the cropped front page, which supplies ample proof of Chicago’s love for local politics:

McCormick had been a publisher and owner of the Tribune (the McCormicks ran the Tribune for decades), so you can almost understand why the paper spent so much time on him winning the primary.

But much more importantly, the first World War was going on. Here is a page from the Tribune of Sept. 12 listing the American war dead and wounded:

This was a single day’s worth of casualties: it’s been decades since the U.S. had to grapple with anything near that volume of death in combat. Because of the war, the 1918 season was shortened and the World Series was being played in early September, not early October. Here’s the Tribune’s page on the conclusion of the series:

A few excerpts from the page show how deeply the war was overwhelming the World Series. The start and end of the game account:
“For the duration of the war Boston’s Red Sox made themselves world’s champions today by defeating the Cubs, 2 to 1, in the sixth game of a series which has been remarkable for its closeness. . . . The Cubs were inoffensive in the ninth, and professional baseball made its curtain bow until the end of the war.”

And three sidebars:
“Another delegation of wounded soldiers and sailors invalided home saw the game, and their entrance on crutches supported by their comrades evoked louder cheers than anything the athletes did on the diamond.”

“Among Chicago’s throngs of busy people, the news from Boston yesterday afternoon telling of the Cubs’ defeat for the world’s championship passed as an incident of little consequence. Where a year ago crowds gathered to get news bulletins from the annual combat, only a few were found, and those few took the result passively.

“The general feeling for the last six weeks that playing ball was not helping much in winning the war practically killed interest even in the annual series for the world’s title. Then, to cap the climax, the players had to engage in a row with the national commission over the division of the spoils during the series, which brought disgust to the season’s windup.” [That is, the players had threatened to go on strike before game 5 because they weren’t getting a large enough share of the World Series revenue.]

“One feature of the finale of professional baseball was the parting of the baseball writers, many of whom have been reporting world’s series for nearly twenty years, and whose parting phrase has always been, “See you next year.” Today it was different, for there is no “next year” for professional baseball, and many of the writers assigned to this world’s series will be in the trenches next spring if their plans are not thwarted by physical disabilities or the end of the war.”

Published in: on May 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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Ernie Banks’ Early Life and Baseball Career

In 1987, the Chicago Tribune’s Jerome Holtzman wrote a long article about Ernie Banks. It was seemingly a reminiscence of Banks’ 500th homer, hit at Wrigley Field on May 12, 1970, but Holtzman was really intent on writing a kind of profile and appreciation of Banks. Holtzman noted Banks’ ebullience at the ceremonies after his 500th homer, and wrote that

Such emotion seldom was displayed by Banks during his early years with the Cubs. Stan Hack, who was Banks’ second manager (Phil Cavarretta was the first), once made the statement, which became widely quoted, “After he hits a home run, he comes back to the bench looking as if he did something wrong.” What Hack and some of the Cubs coaches didn’t realize was that Banks was unusually shy.

The second oldest of 11 children, Banks was raised in modest circumstances in Dallas in what was then the segregated South. Eddie Banks, his father, had been a semipro ballplayer with the Dallas Black Giants, Houston Buffaloes and also played with teams in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and in his native town of Marshall, Tex.

“My father tried everything,” Banks recalled. “We didn’t have much money, but I can remember him buying me a finger-mitt. Cost two dollars and ninety-five cents. Sometimes he’d give me a nickel or dime to play catch with him.”

The elder Banks picked cotton and also worked as a laborer on a WPA construction gang-the Works Progress Administration funded by the federal government at the height of the Depression in an effort to relieve the poor. For a time, Mrs. Banks was employed as a bank janitor. Perhaps it was mostly nostalgia but Banks’ mother, in an interview with the Saturday Evening Post, described her son as an almost model boy.

She said he never “prowled” at night and was a “regular” at Sunday school and church. “He liked to stretch out on on top of his bed and read for hours,” she said. “He was an an average student in school.”

After he became a baseball star, Banks always had an ample fund of poor-boy stories, which he enjoyed telling: How he shined shoes and mowed lawns, cut wood for Dad, did the dishes for Mom and helped take care of the younger children. Eddie Banks couldn’t remember the boy shining shoes or cutting grass but did recall that Ernie had a brief fling at cotton picking. “Ernie never learned how,” said Papa Banks. “The only work he ever did”-the elder Banks didn’t consider baseball work-“was at a hotel. Ernie was to carry out garbage but the cans were too heavy. After three days, he quit and didn’t even go back to collect his money.”

Like fellow Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige, Banks jumped to the big leagues from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. Tom Baird, the owner of the Monarchs, sold Banks to the Cubs in tandem with a little-known pitcher, Bill Dickey, for $20,000-$15,000 for Banks, $5,000 for Dickey. The deal was made on a Monday, the day after Banks appeared in the Negro American League’s East-West All-Star game that was played at Comiskey Park. Several White Sox scouts were in attendance but were unimpressed.

The next day, Wendell Smith, a Chicago sportswriter, picked up Banks and John “Buck” O’Neil, the manager of the Monarchs, at their hotel and drove them to Wrigley Field, where Cub officials gave Banks a final look.

When the Monarchs folded three years later, O’Neil was added to the Cubs’ scouting staff and subsequently helped in the signing of dozens of black players, including Lou Brock. More than a scout, the courtly O’Neil, persuasive and with impeccable manners, was an organizational troubleshooter. When Billy Williams was in the minors and threatening to quit baseball-he was homesick-O’Neil was dispatched to Williams’ home in Whistler, Ala., and convinced him he had a bright future in baseball. Now 75, O’Neil is still on the Cub payroll as a consultant.

“We knew Ernie was a good prospect,” O’Neil said in a telephone interview from his home in Kansas City. “But we didn’t know he would develop that fast.”

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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1876: The Cubs’ First Game Ever

Here’s the Chicago Tribune headline for the Cubs’ first game ever, played on Tuesday, April 25, 1876:

And the box score:

The box score’s hard to read, but the Cubs won 4-0, scoring in the second, third, fourth, and seventh innings. They got eight hits, all singles, with three of them by pitcher Al Spalding. Louisville pitcher Jim Devlin threw the first pitch, in Louisville, at 3:30. Attendance was “about 2,000 or a little less,” compared to the prediction that “10,000 would be a small figure” for estimating the number of fans at the game.

But, a hill adjoining the grounds gave people “a clear view of the game over a short fence, and it was crowded and peopled with masses of citizens, who chose to husband their cash and steal half-a-dollar each from the clubs. The audience which did not pay was fully as large as that which did.” The game took one hour and fifty minutes, and “the ground was not in good shape, and was fully as moist as the Chicago park, being sticky and soft in the outfield, and very dead all over. The character of the game depended largely on this fact.” The Cubs made three errors, and Louisville made six. The Tribune added: “Very little money was wagered, the Chicagoans generally refusing to give the odds of five to one which were demanded before the game.”

Gerhardt, for Louisville, led off the game with a single. Hines, for the Cubs, got their first hit in the second, and scored the first Cubs run in that inning too, on a wild throw by Carbine, the Louisville first baseman. Here’s how the Tribune described it: “Hines hit hard at the first one and sent it to (first baseman) Carbine so briskly that he couldn’t hold it, giving Hines a life. Spalding put a corker to centre-field, Hines going to third. After Spalding had been run out and Addy had retired at first, White drove a fierce one to (third baseman) Gerhardt, who gathered it well but threw it wildly to Carbine, letting in Hines with the first tally.”

Errors led to all four Cubs runs, and it looks like there were no extra base hits. But, the pitchers allowed just one walk: Devlin walked Barnes, the Cubs leadoff hitter, who scored two runs in the game. The Cubs had eight hits; Louisville had seven. There was just one umpire, an L.B. Warren, who the Tribune said “made four errors of judgment.” The crowd didn’t like him, and “Welch, of this city (Louisville), was agreed upon as umpire for Thursday’s game”: this game was played on a Tuesday.

At the time, the Chicago team was called the White Stockings (but it’s easier to keep straight if we just call them the Cubs); the Tribune didn’t call the Louisville team by any particular name, but it wound up being known as the Grays. The Cubs wound up winning the N.L. pennant easily, going 52-14 over the 66-game season. Check out the season stats.

Finally, a p.s.: in the Cubs’ first home game, on May 10, 1876, at the 23rd Street Grounds, they shut out the Cincinnati Redlegs 6-0. The Tribune said: “It looks as if the Chicago club management has done it at last–has selected a club to fitly represent this city and therefore to excel all other clubs in the West, if not in the country. The weather encouraged the attendance, for a finer day for a game was hardly ever seen [and] the grass was in better shape and more even for short-fielding than ever before.”

The 1917 World Series

As a sign of how pervasive and accepted betting on major league baseball was in the late 1910s, here’s a picture from the Chicago Tribune in the aftermath of the White Sox beating the N.Y. Giants in game 6 on Monday, October 15 to win the 1917 World Series:


The caption reads: “Pat Piper, announcer at the Cubs park, as a loyal National leaguer, upheld the Giants’ chances to beat the Sox. His friend, Percy Curtis, of a score card concern, could see nothing but the Sox.” Curtis won $100 on the bet and also won “a ride around the loop in a wheelbarrow” powered by Piper.

Sidebars to the main story on the clinching game 6 in the Polo Grounds said:
“Betting Heaviest of Series”:
“The wagering probably was the heaviest of any day of the series, with practically every Sox fan in the city attempting to get down a large or small wager. . . . George Cohan is credited with winning over $20,000 on the result. He put up $2,600 Saturday and had $2,500 on the Sox for yesterday’s game, when he went east Saturday night. The rest hung on the result of the series.”

“Newsboy Cleans Up $2,000”:
“Willie Pope, the newsboy who handles Tribunes at the corner of Clark and La Salle streets, nicked a visiting New Yorker for $2,000, getting the wager last week when, to the visitor’s great surprise at such affluence, he dug up the roll in defiance of remarks disparaging to the Sox.”

Finally, under the headline “Bets on New York Curb Total Under $100,000”:
“The sum paid off to successful bettors today was less than $100,000, whereas last year it was something like $250,000. Bill Darnell, put and call broker, was reported as having made the biggest clearing, said to be around $25,000, which he put on the White Sox to win the series.”

And even before the game story started, right beneath the headline, the Tribune featured the money elements of the Series:


The point is that obviously the Black Sox in 1919 didn’t happen in a vacuum: by 1917 a whole baseball betting culture was thriving, and the Sox players two years later tried to capitalize on it.

As for the game itself, here’s a picture of Chick Gandil, who drove in two in the fourth inning with a key single, “which meant the World’s title and Winner’s Share of Melon”:


A wider shot with the headline:


The game account by I.E. Sanborn started off by lauding pitcher Red Faber, who won his third game of the Series, Gandil, and Eddie Collins. Collins escaped the Giants’ third baseman Heinie Zimmerman in a rundown in the fourth to run home for the Sox’ first run: “Heine Zim run a footrace with Eddie Collins from third base to the home plate. Eddie had four feet of a start and he finished just four feet ahead of the Bronx boy. That was the first run for Chicago, and Heine Zim had actually chased it right over the plate.”

Then Gandil hit his two-run single, and Faber took over from there: a 4-2 win. Check out the box score and play-by-play. And the Series summary.

Afterward, Charles A. Comiskey said: “The White Sox once more are champions of the world and I feel as if nothing in baseball matters from now on.”

And the Tribune’s James Crusinberry wrote: “Even the electric signs along the gay white way seem dim tonight! New York has had a blow that made it sick. A bombardment from German flyers couldn’t have done much more damage. New York was so sick it didn’t even fight.”
“It is calm tonight from Harlem to Bowling Green, and if one stands at Forty-second street and Broadway, one might think one was in Evanston, for all New York is sick. The only live persons in town are the few from Chicago who are marching on the sidewalks and pushing all the citizens into the new subway excavation.”

And, in his “In the Wake of the News” feature, Ring Lardner attempted his own (satirical) game summary from Chicago. The bottom of the ninth: “McGraw substituted Sallee as pinch hitter for Burns. He doubled. Herzog re-doubled and was set four tricks. The Kaiser batted for Kauff and hit into a quadruple play, Serbia to France to England to Wilson. No runs.
“The seventh game of the series will be played tomorrow at Petrograd, and the admission will be free, as it should have been all the time.”

1908: the Cubs Win the World Series

Here’s some of the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the Cubs winning their second World Series, on October 14, 1908.

A picture of the cub mascot at a time when the Chicago faithful were still building up their stockpile of pennants and world titles:

And a picture of the box score:


The headline read “CUBS SUPREME IN BASEBALL WORLD: Final Victory Over Detroit Gives Chicago Team Greatest Record in History of the Game,” but the Tribune’s story wasn’t that memorable. It said that Cubs pitcher Orval Overall “was extremely right. This was shown in the first inning, when he struck out four men, thereby establishing a new strikeout record for the majors.” It gave high praise for the Cubs’ defense: the Tinkers-Evers-Chance trio and other fielders. But it also said that “undoubtedly today’s final crowd of the year was the smallest that has watched a world’s series battle under modern conditions, the official count showing only a little over 6,000 fans despite ideal conditions.”

On the inside pages, a sidebar feature called “In the Wake of the Final Blow” and written by Hugh E. Keogh featured a poem based on Longfellow’s Excelsior and making fun of the Tigers’ manager, Hughie Jennings:

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through this subdued village passed
A Kike who bore mid snow and ice,
A banner with this strange device,

He pleaded with the passing throng
To help the goodly cause along;
He pleaded long and pleaded loud
Unto that dazed and saddened crowd.

But no one seemed to heed his call,
And no one care a thing at all,
And none would pay a nickel for
The emblem of a losing war.

“I’m long upon my stock,” he cried.
What time his losing trade he plied.
“Now I deserve some recompense;
Here, take the bunch for thirty cents.”

Cubs’ Manager Frank Chance: “Manager Jennings has a great team, but I think the Chicago team is greater. Our team is the greatest that I ever saw on a baseball field.”

The Tigers’ Jennings said: “There was not the old time Detroit dash and ginger to our work and we did not measure our full ability either at the plate or in the field.”

Other sidebar items:
“They are talking here tonight about the cheapness of the American league as compared with the National. The subject is too deep for these parts, but if our health holds out we shall have all winter to think about it.

“Gracious, how cheap we south siders look when we take the count from something that looks like a spoiled deuce when stacked up against a machine like this Frank Chance fell heir to! [Keogh meant the White Sox should be embarrassed to have lost the pennant to the Tigers when the Cubs beat Detroit so easily.]

“Those who hold reservations for tomorrow’s game in Chicago can retain them for the 1909 series. They will need them.

“After the terrible battles for the two major league pennants the world’s series was only a gentle skirmish by comparison, and probably will be known in history as the anti-climax series.”

Here’s a link to the Series stats, and coverage of the game 5 action.

In other Chicago Tribune front page news that day, “Rev. A.W. Griffin, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal church, was exonerated yesterday of the charges preferred against him by choir boys.”
The investigation found 1. “The accused is charged with immoral but not criminal acts.”
2. “We consider that the accusation has not been proven by preponderance of the evidence with respect to any single immoral act.”
3. “Therefore, in our judgment, we are not warranted to present the said Rev. A.W. Griffin for trial.”

Also, in Wilkesbarre, Pa., the headline “TRAMP THRASHED BY A WOMAN Knight of Road Insults 275 Pound Amazon and Soon Becomes a Badly Whipped Person” introduced this story:
“Mrs. John Snyder of Riverside, who weighs 275 pounds, dusted the roadside with a tramp who had insulted her. . . . The tramp went to the Snyder farmhouse and after being given something to eat discovered Mrs. Snyder was alone and insulted her. Mrs. Snyder knocked him down, picked him up again, ran him to the road, held him wih one hand, and beat him with the other.”

Opening Up Weeghman Park (Wrigley Field) in 1914

The Chicago Federals were the home team on April 23, 1914, when Weeghman Park hosted its first game. Where were the Cubs? At West Side Park, playing the Cincinnati Reds–they didn’t move over to Weeghman until mid-1916. And Weeghman didn’t become known as Wrigley until 1926. It was called Cubs Park from 1920 through 1925. Anyway, on April 23, the Federals (a Federal League team, of course, who were later named the Whales), were playing against the Kansas City Packers. The Feds had opened the season by losing five of their first seven games.

Here’s some of how the Chicago Tribune described opening day:

“Chicago took the Federal League to its bosom yesterday and claimed it as a mother would claim a long lost child. With more more frills and enthusiasm than had prevailed at a baseball opening here Joe Tinker and his Chifeds made their debut before a throng of fans that filled the new north side park to capacity, and the Chicago Feds trounced George Stovall’s Kansas City team, 9 to 1. All Chicago cheered and the north side was maddened with delight.

“It may not have been the largest crowd that ever saw an opening game in Chicago, but conservative estimators placed the attendance at about 21,000. The new park is said to have a seating capacity of 18,000. . . . every seat in the place was taken, a great many were standing up in the back of the grandstand, and more than 2,000 were on the field in the circus seats placed there for the occasion.

“The windows and roofs of flat buildings across the way from the park were crowded with spectators. The surface and elevated trains leading to the north side were overhanging with people in the early afternoon and three or four separate and distinct automobile parades unloaded several thousand gaily decked rooters at the gates. Owners Weeghman and Walker of the north side club and President Gilmore of the new league were so overjoyed with the spectacle that they almost wept, and there is little doubt that it was an epochal day in the history of the national game.

“The weather was far from suited to the occasion, too. A chilling wind was coming off the lake and one needed winter furs to be comfortable. . . . Although it was the first game for the new Chicago club, the progress was executed with admirable precision and dispatch, largely due to the efforts of the experienced business manager, Charles G. Williams, who served more than twenty-five years with the local National League club.

“The North Side Boosters’ club, numbering more than a thousand, held a parade. The Bravo el Toro club, numbering about 100, came leading a fatted steer from the stockyards, and the members intended to put on a burlesque bullfight on the field. The fatted steer refused to get mad and the bullfight was a fizzle. There were the Charley Williams Boosters, who came out in hordes. Before the game a squad of women from the Ladies of the G.A.R [that is, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, from the Civil War] marched upon the field bearing large American flag. Led by a band and followed by the members of both ball clubs, the women carried the national color to the flag pole in far center field. Rockets and bombs [a 21-gun salute, that is] were fired as they approached it. . . .

“With the flag pole ceremonies over, the band led the paraders to the home plate, where there were several cart loads of flowers in the form of horseshoes and bundles of American beauties. Most of them were for Manager Tinker.

“The game itself was too one sided to be intense, but the fact that the home team was on the long end of the score made everybody happy. However, before the game had gone into the third inning organized ball stepped in with the hand of the law and yanked one of the “outlaws” from the ranks. Chief Johnson, who started as pitcher for Kansas City, was served with legal papers at the close of the second inning, enjoining him temporarily from playing ball with the Federal league. Manager Stovall of the visitors rushed another hurler to the slab and the game went on just as if nothing had happened.”

Claude Hendrix, a spitballer, got the win with a five-hitter, though he allowed a solo homer by Ted Easterly in the eighth. Dutch or “Little Aleck” Zwilling hit the first double (he may have had the first hit too), and scored the first run. Here’s the Tribune’s box score:


A picture of the G.A.R. ladies carrying the flag to center field, and a shot of Artie “Home-Run” Wilson, who hit Wrigley’s first two homers in this game:


A play at the plate in the third:


And Chifeds manager Joe Tinker, better known as the start of the Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance Cubs double-play trio:


A sidebar in the Tribune added:

“The significant part of the affair to the new owners was the large number of women present. It was not a long jump from De Paul field, where the lowly Feds played last year, to their modern home at Addison avenue, but a glance at the wonderful setting for yesterday’s combat brought the thought that some one must have rubbed Aladdin’s lamp to effect such a magical transformation. The brand new grandstand, packed to the limit with fans wearing Chifeds caps of all shades and colors, looked like a huge floral horseshoe. . . . The stand was a blaze of color. Thousands of spectators donned the little caps distributed by the local management, while others waved Chifed pennants. Forming a centerpiece to this decoration were nearly 3,000 members of the Bravo el Toro club, whose gold and red sashes blended well with the mass of coloring on each side of the field.”

Charlie Robertson’s Perfect Game

When Charles Robertson threw his perfect game on Sunday, April 30, 1922, the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughan was there, and he filed this report the next day:

The name of Charles Robertson will live in baseball lore alongside those of Cy Young and Addie Joss. Hurling himself to heights attained only twice before in modern major league history, the young Texan today turned back the Tigers without a hit, without a run, and without a hostile reaching first base. To say the White Sox won is hardly necessary. The score was 2-0.

Fully 25,000 fans were packed into the arena to witness this thriller. At the start they were anything but favorable toward the lean Texan. They howled at him and booed him. The Tigers themselves tried to break him down by unwarranted complaints that he was practicing some illegal trick. Undaunted, Robby kept right on going, and when it was all over the fans showed their appreciation of his work by carrying him off the field.

Despite the startling results attained by Robertson, the game itself was not particularly spectacular. The Texan’s mates were not called upon to perform hair raising feats to keep the Tygers away from first base. Robby was so good that ordinary fielding was all he needed.

What made Robby the pitcher he was today, was control. He shot fast ones, slow ones, and hooks right through the spots where the other fellows didn’t like ’em.

As a sample of his effectiveness, it might be mentioned that only seven balls were hit on the ground. Fourteen were slammed into the air, and six of the twenty-seven batters took their medicine in the form of strikeouts.

Only six balls were driven into the outfield.

Just what caused the Tygers to break out with their protests against the young pitcher is a mystery. Nothing was said during the first four innings, but in the fifth Harry Heilmann, while batting, called for the ball and tried to show Umpire Nallin that it had been soiled by some foreign substance. Nallin found nothing wrong.

The fact that the arbiter could find no fault with Robby didn’t satisfy the Tygers, however. Heilmann continued to “wolf” throughout the game. Once Cobb even went out to first base to see whether Sheely’s glove did not conceal coloring matter. It didn’t.

Later, the irrepressible Tyrus inspected all parts of Robertson’s uniform. He was foiled again,  but even after it was all over he still insisted there was something wrong. To a spectator it sounded like the squawk of a trimmed sucker. . . .

Hurling against Robby this afternoon was Herman Pillette from the Portland, Ore., team.

He also performed fairly well, but even then was lucky not to have half a dozen runs scored against him. He was in trouble time and again, but the Sox nicked him for hits only seven times.

The rally that won the game, started with a pass to Hooper in the second inning. Mostil bunted along the third base line and beat the throw to first base, after which Strunk sacrificed. Sheely then drove a hard bounder between short and third. Jones managed to reach the ball, but couldn’t get his glove around it and it caromed off into the outfield for a hit, Hooper and Mostil scoring.

After the runs went across, no one dreamed they would be sufficient to clinch victory. The fans surely didn’t think Robby could maintain the pace.

They still howled at him when they rose en masse for the lucky seventh, but when he got by that point without results, sentiment changed. He suddenly became a hero, and when Bassler, a pinch hitter, sent a fly to Mostil for the concluding out, Robby got an ovation that an athlete seldom is granted on a  foreign field.

Some pictures from the Tribune: first the headline:


And second, the box score:


Read the play-by-play for the 27 outs here.