It has been so much worse. The long-timers have pointed this out here more than a few times along the way after the failures of the past few years, when so much was expected. I've found a Chicago Tribune Magazine piece from July 10, 1966. This piece of feature journalism from that era illustrates the pathetic scene that was Chicago Cubs baseball from that era. (Obviously, there is no link.)
The article was written by Ridgely Hunt. He is not a sportswriter, nor is he a baseball fan. That's obvious from the tenor of the article, much of which was fairly sarcastic and somewhat skeptical of people who like baseball. It was evident he didn't like baseball very much, and implied it was boring.
Today, such an article might be found in a non-mainstream publication, such as the Chicago Reader.
Anyway, Hunt does provide a glimpse into the sad shape of the 1966 Cubs. Here are some excerpts.
I rode to Wrigley Field on the "L" the other day and debarked at Addison Street with 25 or 30 other poker-faced men who had the guilty bearing of children playing hooky. Most were elderly, probably retired. I followed them to Wrigley Field. The customers, few in number and somber in spirit shunned the sidewalk vendors. You could find a bigger and livelier crowd at the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.
The entertainment for the day was a doubleheader matching the Cubs and the Houston Astros, who inhabit a glass dome of such stupefying size, that when the air conditioning goes awry, clouds form indoors and precipitate little thunderstorms.
Only 3,813 fans turned out for the afternoon's spectacle. Of these a few were children in organized herds, a few were servicemen in uniform, and a few more were housewives. About a half-dozen were executives that brought along their briefcases and their out-of-town customers. The rest were superannuated men crumbling and suffering through that agonizing decline called the golden years. They sat there, blinking in the sun, clutching their 15-cent programs, waiting for something to happen.
Very little was to happen that afternoon.
Houston was winning their 19th and 20th victories of the season, and the Cubs, thanks largely to the own errors were sinking to their 5th and 6th consecutive defeats. The Cubs, said a Tribune sports writer the next day were "indescribably bad." Even their most ardent supporters could not bear to watch the slaughter, and slowly, as the sun yellowed and fled toward the west, the little flock of spectators dwindled. Beautiful Wrigley Field has thousands and thousands of seats, rising tier upon tier toward the sky, but vast sections of the stands lay closed and empty. "If it were conceivable," said the man next to me, "that the Cubs could lose any more games than they already do, they would draw ever smaller crowds - if that were conceivable."
The Cubs lost the double header by scores of 4-2 and 5-1.
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The 1966 Cubs, the first year under Leo Durocher went 59-103, finishing in 10th place. The author of this piece wasn't a baseball writer, so he never mentioned that a legendary manager was now at the helm of the team. The genesis of the 1969 Cubs is evident here, however.
This team also featured the end of the career of the late Robin Roberts. who went 2 and 3 with an ERA of over 6 in 48 innings. Ernie Broglio was also one of the many starters utilized on this team -- the man for which Lou Brock was traded, went 2 and 6 with an ERA of over 6 in 62 innings. Dick Ellsworth went ...8 and 22 with an ERA or 3.98 in nearly 270 innings.
However, the young Fergie Jenkins and Ken Holtzman were just getting their feet wet.
The 1966 Cubs were 6-22 after this doubleheader.
Game times ...2:16 and 2:12. Now THAT's how to move the game along!!
Another tidbit...in the last home game of this season, Ken Holtzman beat Sandy Koufax 2-1 In a game that took an hour and fifty minutes to play. Both pitchers went the distance. Holtzman gave up 2 hits -- Koufax, 4.
Holtzman improved his record to 11 and 15. Koufax's fell to 25 and 9.
That was a tease of what was ahead next year. The 1967 Cubs went 87 and 74, finishing third.