Historical Events (October 9–October 15): Where were the Cubs?
This week in history, the Cubs were actually involved in historical events…
October 9, 1907
The Cubs were playing the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. It was Game 2 of the series–the first game had ended in a tie (called because of darkness). More than 21,000 braved the cold October Chicago weather at West Side Grounds again.
Cubs pitcher Jack Pfiester had led the league with a stunning 1.15 ERA (impressive even in the dead ball era), so the Cubs felt pretty confident stepping on the field for Game 2. His competitor that day was good ol’ Wabash George Mullin. Mullin was a 20 game winner, but he was also a 20-game loser, and had been hit pretty hard most of the season. In fact, he led the league in hits allowed and earned runs allowed.
Though the Tigers got first blood in the second inning, their lead didn’t last long. The Cubs loaded the bases against Mullin in the bottom of the inning, and George walked Joe Tinker to tie the game.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, Tinker scored the second run for the Cubs on a single by lead off man Jimmy Slagle, and the Cubs added an insurance run when Slagle scored on a double by Jimmy Sheckard.
After that, Pfiester shut the door on the Tigers. They did get two men on base in the top of the 8th inning, but Tigers lead off man Davy Jones made the inexplicable choice of attempting to steal third, and Johnny Kling threw him out for the third and final out.
The Cubs won the game 3-1.
They won their first World Series title three days later in Detroit.
October 9, 1906. Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar exports beer to America for the first time. It becomes known as Bud. The Cubs and White Sox face off in Game 1 of the World Series at West Side Grounds in Chicago. The Sox beat Mordecai Brown and the Cubs, 2-1.
October 10, 1908
The World Series began in Detroit amid much fanfare, but not a great deal of excitement. The Tigers, led by Ty Cobb, were the prohibitive underdogs and the city of Detroit wasn’t optimistic that they could win it all. Especially against the defending champs who had beaten them the previous year.
Big Ed Reulbach (photo), who had been on fire for the past month, was given the ball to start this game and he didn’t quite have it. The Cubs went to the bullpen in the seventh and eighth, calling on their big guns Orval Overall and Mordecai Brown to rescue the win. Neither man pitched that well, but the Cubs came back to score 5 runs in the top of the ninth to win the game 10-6. The bottom of their order, Solly Hofman and Johnny Kling (each with two RBI), were the heroes of this Game 1 victory.
October 10, 2003. Quintin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1” is #1 at the box office. The Cubs beat the Marlins in Game 3 of the NLCS to take a 2-1 lead. Randall Simon hit a homer for the Cubs, and Doug Glanville knocked in Kenny Lofton with the winning run in the top of the 11th.
October 11, 1906. San Francisco public school board orders Japanese students to be segregated into their own schools, causing a diplomatic crisis for U.S. The White Sox shut out the Cubs 3-0 at West Side Grounds to take a 2-1 series lead.
October 11, 1907
The series shifted to Detroit’s Bennett Park for Game 4, and judging by the lukewarm response of the Detroit crowd, Tigers fans didn’t really have a lot of hope that they could beat the Cubs. Only 11,000 or so showed up for the game, and most of them probably wished they hadn’t. The Cubs sent their ace Orval Overall back to the mound, and the Tigers gave Wild Bill Donovan another chance, in a rematch of Game 1. This game, however, had nothing in common with that first one.
After giving up the first run (Ty Cobb’s only run of the series), once again a Cubs pitcher helped his own cause. Orval Overall knocked in two runs in the top of the 5th with a solid single to right field to take the lead.
Then the Tigers simply fell apart. They gave up a run on a throwing error, another run on a bunt hit by Jimmy Sheckard, and a fifth run while Frank Chance was caught in a rundown. The Cubs added a final run in the top of the ninth, and took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
October 11, 1908
The World Series comes to Chicago for Game 2, but Chicago also isn’t nearly as excited as it had been the last few years. There are a couple of good reasons for that.
First of all, many Chicagoans are disappointed the White Sox faltered in the closing days of the season. Another series with the Detroit Tigers isn’t nearly as compelling as a rematch of the 1906 crosstown series would have been. But secondly, and most importantly, Cubs owner Charles Murphy (photo) takes this opportunity to gouge his fans. He charges 4 times as much for the tickets and conspires with scalpers to charge even more. This blows up in his face. Already wildly unpopular in Chicago, Murphy becomes a pariah. Cubs fans try to organize a boycott to protest Murphy’s actions.
Only 17,700 show up for Game 1. This is a respectable crowd, but the Cubs have drawn more for their games against the Giants and Pirates. On the field, Orval Overall pitches a masterpiece. In the eighth inning he is working on a three hit shutout, when the Cubs explode for six runs. Joe Tinker hits a two run home run and Wildfire Schulte adds a triple. Ty Cobb knocks in the only Tigers run in the top of the ninth, but it’s too little, too late, and the Cubs take a 2-0 lead in the series.
October 11, 1926
Dion O’Banion’s lieutenant and successor, Hymie Weiss (photo), was gunned down literally steps away from Holy Name Cathedral’s front door. The bullets fired from the killer’s machine gun chiseled into the base of the church. Those bullet marks can still be seen today.
Holy Name Cathedral was also the location of a famous Cubs funeral.
Unlike O’Banion and Weiss, when Harry Caray died in February 1998, his funeral was actually heldinside Holy Name. It turned out to be almost a celebrity roast, as friends of Harry told story after hilarious story about their dear departed friend.
Cubs manager Jim Riggleman attended the service. Among the Cub players in attendance were Mark Grace, Sammy Sosa and Scott Servais and the retired second baseman Ryne Sandberg. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois and another famous Chicago figure, the football coach Mike Ditka, were also at the service.
As far as we know, no gangsters attended.
But it would have been fitting if they did.
October 11, 1929
On this day in 1929 the Cubs won a World Series game against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s.
Guy Bush was on the Shibe Park mound for the Cubs, and the Mississippi Mudcat scattered nine hits, and gave up one run. But the big bangers on the A’s were ineffective. Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Jimmie Foxx combined to go 0-7.
Meanwhile, the Cubs had a few Hall of Famers of their own, and all three of them showed why they were enshrined. Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson each had two hits, and KiKi Cuyler knocked in the game winning runs.
After the game ended the Cubs had cut the A’s lead to 2-1. It would be as close as they would get. The A’s swept the final two games to win their fourth championship.
October 12, 1906
Mordecai Brown no-hits the White for the first 5 2/3 innings. He ends up with a 2-hitter, a 1-0 win for the Cubs. The series is now tied 2 games a piece.
October 12, 1907
While fans in Chicago gathered around a scoreboard in downtown Chicago as it showed updates of the game, Tiger fans knew it was all over. The Cubs had saved Mordecai Brown (Photo) to pitch game 5. Only 7700 fans bothered showing up to Bennett Park to watch the opposing team celebrate on their field.
The Cubs scored the only run they’d need in the top of the first. Jimmy Slagle walked to lead off the game, stole second base, and then scored on Harry Steinfeldt’s single. The Cubs added another run in the second, when Johnny Evers reached on an error, stole a base, and scored on a ground out.
Mordecai Brown did the rest. Still stinging from a disappointing performance in the 1906 Series, Brown scattered seven hits, but buckled down when it counted. Only two runners made it as far as third base, but both were stranded there. Ty Cobb got his fourth hit of the series, but he was thrown out trying to steal.
Cobb came up again the bottom of the ninth, and Brown struck him out. The final out of the game, the out that clinched the first World Series title in Chicago Cubs history, was snagged by future Hall of Famer Joe Tinker. When Tinker closed his glove over Boss Schmidt’s pop up that fell down through the frigid Detroit sky, the Cubs were the champions.
October 12, 1908
The fan protest against team owner Charles Murphy continues before Game 3 at West Side Grounds. This time only 14,543 show up. Jack Pfiester, who doesn’t have much left in the tank after an injury prone year, has another bad outing. This time he gives up 8 runs and the Cubs are never in the game. The crowd lets them have it, and after the needless drama caused by their despised owner, the Cubs are happy to return to Detroit for the rest of the series.
October 12, 1929
The Cubs have the biggest collapse in World Series history. Leading 8-0 in the 7th inning against the Philadelphia A’s, the Cubs give up 10 runs in the bottom of the 7th. The big blow is a Hack Wilson error on an easy fly ball to centerfield. Instead of tying up the series 2 games apiece, the Cubs fall behind 3 games to 1.
October 13, 1906. One of the popular films in Chicago is the “Joe Gans-Battling Nelson Fight”, which was a film of a championship bout that went 48 rounds. The movie ends in the 38th round because they ran out of film. The Cubs lose to the White Sox 8-6 at South Side Park to go to within one game of elimination. Mordecai Brown loses again.
October 14, 1908. The Baseball Writers Association of America is formed, and will one day form the voting arm of the Baseball Hall of Fame. They will elect several of the Cubs playing in the clinching game of the World Series against the Tigers in Detroit. 6210 die-hards were on hand in Detroit (the smallest World Series crowd in history) to witness another dominating pitching performance by Orval Overall. Like his teammate Three Finger Brown a few days earlier, Overall pitched a 3-hit shutout. He struck out ten Tigers and rode the first inning Frank Chance RBI single to victory. (The Cubs added another run in the 5th to win 2-0). There was no way anyone there could have known it then, but when Tigers catcher Boss Schmidt nubbed one off the end of his bat and was thrown out by Cubs catcher Johnny Kling, it marked the final time the Cubs would celebrate a World Series championship.
In the two years that this flu ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world’s population was infected. It infected 28% of all Americans. An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war.
And Chicago was hit hard too.
The University of Illinois released a report on October 15, 1918. Among other things it reported: “An analysis of the influenza situation in Chicago today shows that the epidemic has not reached its crest here. For the week ending September 28, there were 598 cases reported in Chicago with 176 deaths. During the week ending October 7 there were 6,106 cases reported with 627 deaths. The week which ended October 14 produced 11,239 cases and 1,461 deaths. The total number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia in Chicago during the past three weeks was 2,264 compared with an average of 156 for the same period during the past five years.”
Within a week, it hit Chicago with full-force. On one horrible October day 381 people died from influenza in Chicago.
Considering how badly Chicago was hit in October, it turns out to be a blessing that the World Series (Cubs versus the Red Sox) was held a month earlier because of the War. The Cubs-Red Sox World Series of 1918 remains the only World Series in history to be held in September. The President of the United States (Woodrow Wilson) had ordered the season ended on September 1st, so that any and all able men would work for the war cause and/or enter the military. He had no way of knowing it when he made that order, but it probably saved lives in Chicago and Boston. Having huge crowds come out for something like this only would have helped the influenza spread more quickly.
The only large gathering that was permitted in Chicago was the war parade. The Chicago health deparment gave very specific instructions to those attending. They were to strip, rub their body’s dry areas and take a laxative when they got home (to prevent catching the deadly flu virus.) The parade went down Michigan Avenue, right in front of the Art Institute.
During the epidemic, “Fresh Air Cars” were also introduced on the L. These were “L” cars with the windows locked open to maximize air circulation. One sign said: “Get the fresh air habit. Dress warm enough to enjoy it.” Another sign said: “Too much fresh air is just enough.” The idea the fresh Lakefront air promoted health was widespread, especially at a time when the rest of Chicago’s air was horrendous.
By 1920, the pandemic had subsided, but it left a tremendous amount of damage in it’s wake. Baseball was not immune, either. Boston Braves outfield Larry Chappell died in San Francisco. Former St. Louis Browns outfielder Emmet Heidrick died in Pennsylvania. Former Pirates and Reds outfielder Jake Stenzel (photo) died in Cincinnati (he had started his career with the Cubs, but played only a handful of games for them many years earlier). American League umpire Silk O’Loughin also perished in the pandemic. As did former Tigers owner William Yawkey.
October 15, 2003. The Staten Island Ferry crashes into a concrete pier at full speed, killing eleven people. The Cubs lose in Game 7 of the 2003 National League Championship series to the Florida Marlins.