SDN-064565, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum
There's a very good reason a player in a White Sox uniform is depicted here. Continue on, dear reader, and find out why.
You have probably noticed the photo on this post is of a player in a White Sox uniform. It was clearly taken at Wrigley Field -- 1928 being the second year the ballpark bore that name -- you can see buildings in the background which still exist on Sheffield Avenue.
This post isn't about the White Sox, of course, or even a game against them. I'll explain who this is and why he's pictured here later.
The Cubs started off slowly in 1928 after their good 1927 season, and after losing to the Pirates 9-8 in 10 innings May 2 at Pittsburgh, they were 9-12, in seventh place, four games out of first place.
They returned home -- it was a one-series, three-game road trip -- and proceeded to run off a 13-game winning streak, roaring into first place; May 19 was the 13th win of that streak, a 3-2 win over the Braves.
Edward Burns of the Tribune has the story:
The Cubs had a hard time reaching that old No. 13 in their string of consecutive victories, but they fought the superstition that is inbred in all ballplayers, and in the end conquered the Braves, 3 to 2. Hack Wilson got his sixth 1928 homer in the fourth to effect a 2 to 1 lead for our nine, but a similar blow by Burrus in the seventh restored the deadlock. But in the last half of the same inning Root had the pleasure of slamming out a sacrifice fly that won the ball game. Aside from being a sweet game to take, in view of all the circumstances, the conquest, combined with goings on elsewhere in the National league, brought much cheer to McCarthy partisans. The Robins beat the Reds, 2 to 0, and the Giants made it two straight over the Cards, 4 to 3. These events gave the Cubs a margin of two full games over the second place Reds and more than a three game lead over the Giants, who passed the Cards for third place.
Here's what I found interesting in Burns' writing; see if you agree. First is his claim that "superstition is inbred in all ballplayers". Some were, back then; some still are -- but this type of writing probably influenced many fans to think "all" players were superstitious.
Second is his writing of "our nine" -- almost rooting as a fan for the local team. Now, I do that here, but that's part of what we do at SB Nation. You wouldn't see one of the current beat writers do that.
About the 1928 Cubs, they drew 45,000 (you could do that then) to Wrigley Field the next day as they went for their 14th win in a row. Alas, they lost 4-3 to the Braves and soon slipped out of first place. The rest of the year was a series of short two-game win streaks followed by losing streaks of equal length, apart from an eight-game winning streak in July. The Cubs won 91 games -- their first 90+ win season since 1912 -- but finished third, four games out.
Now, who's that White Sox pitcher? It's Charlie Robertson, who was the Braves starter against Charlie Root May 19, 1928. He had thrown a perfect game for the White Sox in 1922 -- by 1928, he was barely trying to hang on. Despite the loss, it was the last really good game he pitched. Five appearances later, he was out of the major leagues for good. He's probably got the worst major-league record of anyone who ever threw a perfect game: 49-80 with a 4.44 ERA (though Philip Humber might give him a run for that someday).