Courtesy Mike Bojanowski
This early-season game featured some extracurricular activity at Wrigley Field.
The 1935 Cubs were the best team in Cubs history between 1910 and 1945, and the last team in franchise history to win 100 games. They accomplished this after floundering around for much of the season, only to roar to the pennant on the strength of a 21-game winning streak from September 4-27. All but the last two of those games were at Wrigley Field.
So I could write about that, or one of the games in the streak, but I'm picking a different one, for a couple of reasons.
My dad isn't a huge baseball fan, but he does follow the Cubs, and told me recently of the details of the first game he attended at Wrigley Field. From the details I tracked down the actual game -- and if it weren't enough that the Cubs came from behind with a 10-run eighth inning to defeat the Pirates 12-11 on April 29, 1935, there was also a bench-clearing brawl that afternoon at Wrigley Field, instigated by a Pirates player who was a former Cub. Edward Burns of the Tribune picks up that part of the story:
The first excitement of record caliber came in the fifth inning, after Cookie Lavagetto had made the score 6 to 2 in favor of the Pirates with a double that drove home his manager, Pie Traynor. After Lavagetto had slid into second base he jumped to his feet and started swinging at Jurges, who had received the ball from the outfield. He claimed Jurges had tried to spike him. A great fight was under way before umpires and players could pull Jurges and Lavagetto apart. But this was just the start. Leading the swarm of Pirates who rushed from the dugout to the second base battle was Guy Bush, a Cub all his major league career until he was traded to the Pirates last November. Since that time Bush has been nursing a hatred for those who wanted his services no longer. Bush was looking for some Cub to slug and he didn't care much which one it would be. The first Cub in his path was Joiner. Bush hit Joiner on the chin, cutting a gash with a ring. Joiner struck back. Players and umpires left Jurges and Lavagetto to their quarrel and rushed to the embattled Bush and Joiner, who kept at it. Joiner eventually was dragged to the Cub dugout, bleeding from the nose and cut on his jaw. Three of Bush's mates threw him on the ground and sat on him.
Now that is a brawl!
Eventually, Cubs VP Charlie Grimm had to come to the dugout to help restore order; Pirates coach Honus Wagner, who Burns wrote "serves as kind of an Old Aunt Kate on the Pirate squad", got Bush back in the Pittsburgh dugout, and then this happened:
Umpire Bill Klem, dean of umpires, who was in charge, was running about excitedly, as were George Magerkurth, league strong man with vast notoriety as a brawler in his own right, and George Barr, an affable little bald man whose greatest concern is to keep his cap from flying off. Behind the cameramen was Commissioner K. M. Landis, who was ready to act just as soon as Klem and his associates got matters back under control. Klem announced that Lavagetto, Jurges, Joiner and Bush, who had been nominated to pitch today, had been ordered from the ball park. The game had not been resumed until the umpires called time and warned both teams that the benches would be cleared of all players unless the abusive language was discontinued.
An explanation is required here. "Cameramen" refers to photographers, who until the 1950s were allowed positions actually on the field, in foul territory behind the plate. And why was Commissioner Landis at this game? Because at that time, the Commissioner's office was located in Chicago; Landis often attended games. One other note about the players mentioned above: Roy Joiner, a lefthanded pitcher, was sent to the minor leagues after that game and never played for the Cubs again.
As noted above, the Cubs won this game 12-11; at the time, that gave them a 7-5 record. They never held first place at all in 1935 until the 10th game of the 21-game winning streak; that happened on September 13. The Cubs wound up winning the pennant by four games, before falling to the Tigers in the World Series.