SDN-062996, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum
The Cubs teased their fans with a hot streak in June 1924, then faded. Sound familiar?
This is going to start sounding like a theme through this series. A Cubs team gives false hope by going on an early-season streak, maybe hitting first place for a while, then fades.
It happened again in 1924, and the Tribune's James Cruisinberry wrote about the excitement awaiting the Cubs as they came home from a successful road trip:
Regardless of excessive heat there was much thrumming of guitars, banjoes and ukuleles as the victorious young Killefer Cubs railroaded their way across Ohio and Indiana yesterday, for they were in high spirits. They arrived in Chicago early last evening from their tour of conquest through the east, returning with nine victories in twelve games played since leaving the home fireside. The rampant race for the pennant will be continued today, a double header being booked at the North Side park against the deplorable St. Louis Cardinals, who started out this year with hope and Hornsby and who still have Hornsby.
Well! Even then, the "deplorable" Cardinals. And Rogers Hornsby would, of course, a few years later (1929) help lead the Cubs to a pennant.
So we're talking about two games from this date, not one, and the Cubs again swept a doubleheader, winning in extra innings in the first game and then having a 1-0 shutout twirled in the second game by Tony Kaufman (pictured), a Chicago native who had a few decent years for the Cubs in the mid-1920s. Here's how the first game was won:
Killefer's conquering Cubs knocked the St. Louis Cardinals flat in both games of a double header at the north side lot yesterday and now about 30,000 fans who looked at the spectacle have become seriously infected with pennantitis. Each combat was a tough one. The Cubs nosed out ahead, winning the opener, 4 to 3 in 10 innings, and the second, 1 to 0, all of which indicates some strenuous baseball. It's the boys who can grab the close fights who are generally on top when the season ends and it would be hard to find two closer contests than were staged on this occasion. It was necessary for the north side youths to come from behind in the first game which they did with an admirable punch in the seventh inning for two runs which tied the count. Then in the tenth inning after two were out and two men were on, the winning run was rammed in on a wild pitch that got away from the catcher barely far enough to make the daring feat possible.
The sweep put the Cubs within 1½ games of first place, but that's as close as they got for the rest of the year; the Giants were just too strong and even with the Cubs finishing with a decent 81-72 record, they wound up fifth, 12 games out of first. Oh, and those "boys who can grab the close fights"? The Cubs' record in one-run games in 1924 was 23-22; the pennant-winning Giants just 18-19. Cruisinberry had the right idea, but that year, it didn't quite work out that way.