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A Game From Cubs History: October 1, 1910

An injury suffered by a key Cubs player in this game could have affected their World Series performance.

In 1910, for the second straight season, the Cubs won 104 games. This time, it was good for a National League pennant, won by 13 games over the New York Giants.

The Cubs got off to a slow start in 1910; on May 14 they lost to the Braves to drop to 11-11. They followed that loss with an 11-game winning streak during which they went into first place; they never dropped out of the lead after that and later in the summer had winning streaks of seven and 10 games.

It was during a 9-6 win over Cincinnati on October 1, 1910 that they suffered a setback that could have been a factor in their World Series loss to the Athletics when second baseman Johnny Evers suffered a serious injury. A "Staff Correspondent" in Cincinnati wrote this description in the Tribune:

The Trojan broke the fibula in his right leg while sliding home with a run in the fifth inning of today's game here. The worst of it was that the injury was entirely unnecessary. Evers could have scored standing up and it is probable that his hesitancy about sliding was responsible for the accident. His right foot caught in the plate and turned almost over.

Evers had on new baseball shoes. Other players on the team say they were too small for him and this was partially responsible for the accident. He was carried off the field to the club house by his team mates. A doctor, summoned from the stand, ordered his removal to Seton hospital. The bone was set there and shortly afterward he was brought back to the hotel.

There are some fascinating bits of history in there -- first, the words we now know as "clubhouse" and "teammates" are spelled as two words. Then -- can you imagine an injured athlete in 2012, suffering an injury like this on the road, having surgery at a hospital and then being brought back to his team hotel "shortly afterward"? He'd at least be kept overnight.

The article goes on to say that it would be "six weeks before he would be able to walk without the aid of a cane" -- also far different from today, where someone with an injury like this would be on crutches. The Cubs wound up clinching the pennant with an 8-4 win over the Reds the next day, October 2 -- but had to wait two more weeks before the World Series began, because the 1910 regular season didn't conclude until October 15. (And you think baseball goes on too long now. The 1910 World Series ended on October 23; this year's concluded on October 28.)

Evers claimed he wanted to play in the World Series, but that was not to be. Evers had hit .350 (7-for-20) in both the 1907 and 1908 World Series, and his replacement, 23-year-old Heinie Zimmerman, went 4-for-17. Even if Evers had been able to play, the Cubs might not have won it; their vaunted pitching staff fell apart and gave up 35 runs to the A's in the five-game World Series loss.