Historical Events (May 8–May 14): Where were the Cubs?
May 9, 1873
Future Chicago mayor Anton Cermak is born. Throughout the last century many of Chicago’s mayors have been White Sox fans (most notably the Daleys), but there have been a few notable exceptions, and Mayor Cermak may have been the most famous. He loved the Cubs.
When the Cubs and Yankees played each other in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, two VIPs were sitting in the front row; Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago and Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York. Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for the Presidency and was campaigning in the Midwest. The paraplegic Roosevelt leaned against his son as he threw out the first pitch. He was the guest of Cermak, who was poised to deliver Chicago’s vote to the Presidential challenger. Cermak was the creator and founder of Chicago’s Democratic Machine, and was extremely powerful despite only having been the Mayor since 1931. History hasn’t noted what these two men discussed that day, but it has mythologized the game itself. It was the game that Babe Ruth supposedly called his shot.
Unfortunately for Mayor Cermak, he never went to another Cubs game after that World Series loss to the Yankees.
On February 15, 1933 after a fishing trip in the Bahamas, Franklin Roosevelt emerged from his yacht in Miami, and a small crowd was there to greet him. Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak was in the crowd, and so was a man named Giuseppe Zangara.
After a short speech, Roosevelt motioned Cermak to his side in the back seat of a convertible. They were talking to each other when Zangara raised a handgun and began shooting. He claimed to be aiming for Roosevelt, but he hit Cermak and four others. The crowd collapsed on Zangara, and wrestled him to the ground, as Cermak was rushed to the hospital in Roosevelt’s car. During that ride, with Roosevelt at his side, Cermak supposedly said: “I am glad it was me instead of you.”
The real question is: was the assassin trying to hit Roosevelt or Cermak? Everyone assumed the intended victim was Roosevelt, but the triggerman Giuseppe Zangara was Sicilian, and it’s very possible he was sent by the Chicago Outfit to retaliate for Cermak’s move against Frank Nitti in the Chicago bootlegging business. We’ll never know for sure. Zangara was executed only a few weeks after Cermak died.
After Cermak’s death on March 6, 1933, 22nd Street was renamed “Cermak”.
A few weeks later on Opening Day at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs had a moment of silence in honor of their fallen mayor.
They finished in third place that season, six games behind the New York Giants.
May 8, 1884. Harry Truman is born in Lamar, Missouri. The Cubs (known then as the White Stockings) beat the Philadelphia Quakers 13-0 in Philadelphia.
May 9, 1964. After three and a half months with the #1 record in America, the Beatles are finally pushed out of the top spot…by Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly”. The Cubs beat the Houston Colt .45s at Wrigley Field. Dick Ellsworth pitches a complete game in the 9-1 victory.
May 10, 1877. President Rutherford B. Hayes has the first telephone installed in the White House. The Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) lose to the Hartfords of Brooklyn, 14-10.
May 11, 1934. Severe dust storms sweep across the Great Plaines, sending topsoil flying as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta. The Cubs get crushed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at Wrigley Field, 13-1. Cubs pitcher Roy Joiner doesn’t make it out of the second inning.
May 12, 1970. Harry Blackmun is confirmed to the Supreme Court. Ernie Banks hits his 500th home run in an 11-inning win against Braves pitcher Pat Jarvis at Wrigley Field. Santo knocks in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. Only 5264 fans are in attendance.
May 13, 1981. Pope John Paul II is shot and seriously wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter’s Square. The Cubs lose 8-3 to Tom Seaver and the Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The Cubs record stands at 5-21.
May 14, 1948. The state of Israel is established in Tel Aviv. The Cubs win 1-0 at Wrigley Field. Russ Meyer pitches a four hitter and Andy Pafko hits a homer for the game’s only run.