Saturday, June 13, 2009

PTWSW #5: The 1908 Chicago Cubs

Manager: Frank Chance
Record: 99-55
Ballpark: West Side Park
Owner: Charles Murphy

Future Hall of Famers: Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Johnny Evers, .300
OBP: Johnny Evers, .402
SLG: Joe Tinker, .391
OPS: Johnny Evers, .777
2B: Frank Chance, 27
3B: Joe Tinker, 14
HR: Joe Tinker, 6
RBI: Joe Tinker, 68
BB: Johnny Evers, 66
SB: Johnny Evers, 36

Team Leaders, Pitching

Mordecai Brown, 29
SO: Orval Overall, 167
ERA: Mordecai Brown, 1.47
IP: Mordecai Brown, 312.1
CG: Mordecai Brown, 27
SHO: Mordecai Brown, 9
K/BB: Mordecai Brown, 2.51
SV: Mordecai Brown, 5 (NL leader)


Oldest Player: Jimmy Slagle (b. July 11, 1873)

Youngest Player: Vin Campbell (January 30, 1888)

First to Leave Us: Harry Steinfeldt (d. August 17, 1914)

Last Survivor: Bill Mack (d. September 30, 1971)

First in Majors: Chick Fraser (debut April 19, 1896)

Last in Majors: If you count all appearances, it was Johnny Evers as a Braves coach making an old-timer's appearance on October 6, 1929. If you count only regular players, it was Heinie Zimmerman on September 10, 1919.

First to Play For the Franchise: Frank Chance (April 29, 1898)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Joe Tinker (September 22, 1916)

Pre-union Team: The teams with two each were the 1900 Philadelphia Phillies, the 1901 Philadelphia Athletics, the 1901 Boston Beaneaters, the 1903 Pittsburg Pirates, the 1904-05 Beaneaters, the 1904 Phillies, the 1905-06 Cincinnati Reds and the 1906 Boston Americans.

Reunion Team: The 1913 Cincinnati Reds (Mordecai Brown, Johnny Kling, Jimmy Sheckard, Joe Tinker)

Season Summary

Unlike the previous two seasons, the 1908 Cubs didn't run away with the pennant. All year long they were part of a three-team race with the Pirates and Giants. They were strong in every aspect of the game, but they didn't dominate in any category like the previous two years. A slump left the Cubs six games out of first on August 16, but they went on a tear after that to get right back in it.

One of their losses during that tear came against the Pirates on September 4, when Owen Wilson hit a game-winning single with the bases loaded. There wouldn't have been anything noteworthy about this loss had the runner on first, Warren Gill, touched second after the winning run scored. Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers got the ball from the outfield and stepped on second for a force that should've negated the deciding tally. Umpire Hank O'Day honored the existing custom of overlooking that rule and let the final result stand.

On September 23 the Cubs and Giants, tied for first place, faced off at the Polo Grounds. Like the Pittsburg game, the Cubs seemingly lost on a game-winning single in the ninth. Also like the Pittsburg game, the runner on first, this time Fred Merkle, failed to touch second. Still like the Pittsburg game, Evers got the ball from the outfield and touched second for what should've been a force out. Even further like the Pittsburg game, Hank O'Day was umpiring. Unlike the Pittsburg game, O'Day didn't let the final result stand, recognizing that the Cubs had a legitimate claim. The final decision was that the game was ruled a tie, and it would be replayed if the two teams finished the season tied for first.

As you can probably guess, that's just what happened. The Cubs emerged victorious in the rematch and the pennant was theirs. For the second straight year they defeated the Tigers in a five-game World Series. They may have been the weakest Cub team between 1906 and 1910, but they're still the most well-known today, because the Cubs haven't won another World Series since.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
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