A Game From Cubs History: May 17, 1917

SDN-061794, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum

The Cubs got off to a great start in 1917, but then faltered. Does this sound familiar?

I've already written about the most famous game of 1917 -- maybe for any team, not just the Cubs. That's the double no-hitter thrown by Fred Toney of the Reds and Jim "Hippo" Vaughn of the Cubs at Weeghman Park on May 2, 1917; Toney and Vaughn both no-hit their opponents for nine innings; the Reds scored off Vaughn in the 10th and Toney completed his no-hitter, one of just two in Weeghman/Wrigley history by an opponent. I wrote it up as a "retro recap" last February.

That loss dropped the 1917 Cubs' record to 10-8; the next day they started a streak of winning 12 of 13, including 10 straight. Eight of the 10 were on the road. The 10th win, a 2-1 win over the Braves in Boston, put the Cubs three games in first place with a record of 22-9.

James Cruisinberry, Tribune correspondent, must have had World War I on his mind (and yes, I know it wasn't called that at the time, it was called the "Great War") when he filed this recap of the Cubs' win:

It was a tough fight for those militant Cubs today, but they made good, winning the final game of the series from the Braves, 2 to 1, thus making a clean sweep of the four and making a record of ten straight victories. 

As in some of their other combats of the record run, the Cubs had to come from behind to win, for in the second round the Braves produced their run. Wilhoit led off with a walk and then Konetchy followed with a tremendous liner to the wall in left center for three sacks, sending Wilhoit home.

It fell to the lot of Leslie Mann, the guy who is so ardently despised by George Stallings, to break up the game with not only the tying, but later with the winning one. In the fifth he broke the ice for the Cubs by clouting a two bagger down the left foul line. Elliott popped out trying to bunt, but Deal caromed a single off Allen's glove, Mann taking third, where he scooted home on Merkle's sacrifice fly.

That's right, Merkle -- Fred Merkle, whose baserunning gaffe helped give the Cubs the 1908 pennant when he was a member of the Giants, was now a member of the Cubs; he was purchased from Brooklyn about a month before this game and was the starting first baseman for the 1918 champions. Why Leslie Mann was so "ardently despised" by Braves manager Stallings isn't certain, although it might have to do with the fact that Mann was one of the jumpers who went from the National League to the Federal League in 1915 -- he had played for the Braves' World Series title team in 1914.

Anyway, that was the peak of the season for the Cubs; they went 52-71 the rest of the way and finished fifth in the National League.

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