This Week in 1908 (July 14–July 20)
How long ago was 1908?
The Cubs are facing their arch rivals this week, the New York Giants. Two of the most memorable games of the rivalry take place at the 4-game series at West Side Grounds.
One day Giants star pitcher Christy Mathewson (photo) is called on as a relief pitcher after he thought he wouldn’t be needed that day. He is already wearing street shoes, and doesn’t have time to change back into his spikes, so he goes to the mound in his street shoes, and saves the game (July 16).
Matthewson is probably the greatest pitcher of this era, and this story becomes part of his Hall of Fame lore.
The next day Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker (photo) hits an exciting inside the park home run to win the game. It’s one of the most dramatic home runs of all-time because of who the Cubs were playing and the magnitude of the rivalry, but also because he almost gets knocked over with an elbow to the head from the Giants third baseman, and his own third base coach attempts to tackle him to keep him at third base to make sure he isn’t thrown out at the plate. He makes it anyway, and the Cubs win the game. Unfortunately, the day is marred by tragedy when a kid named William Hudson falls from the Taylor Street rooftop stands (much like today’s rooftop stands) while watching the game, and dies. The police condemn the rickety wooden 1000-seat stands the next day.
The Cubs and Giants end up splitting the series. The Pirates take advantage of the first and second place teams beating each other and vault over both teams into first place.
*Somehow, despite the fact that there are only a handful of cars on the streets (the Model T has not yet been invented), Chicago Mayor Fred Busse gets into a fender bender with one of the players on the Giants (July 18).
In Pop Culture
*The song “The Next Horse I Ride On” by VestaVictoria is sweeping the nation. It’s the grand finale of her Vaudeville act.
*Jimmy Cagney turns 9 (July 17). He lives above his father’s saloon in New York’s Lower East Side.
*George Barnes turns 13 (July 18) in Memphis, Tennessee. By all accounts he is enjoying a normal happy childhood. During Prohibition, however, he becomes a bootlegger, and by the end of that decade is known across the land asMachine Gun Kelly.
*A New England spinster and acquitted ax-murderer named Lizzie Borden turns 48 (July 19). She is living in Massachusetts as Lizbeth A. Borden. Schoolchildren around the country know her name, and recite it during this jump-rope rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks, And when she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one.
*Painter/Sculptor Edgar Degas is 74 (July 19). He is one of the most famous artists in the world.
*36-year-old (July 16) Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen is making plans to reach the North Pole. Next year he’ll find out someone already reached it, and he’ll be the first to reach the South Pole instead.
Price Check: A box of six men’s washable bowties costs 25 cents.
If you travel back in time, don’t worry about buying anything made out of polyester. It won’t be invented until 1940.