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A Game From Cubs History: July 8, 1927

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Cubs ace Charlie, or Charley, Root, nearly made the record books on this warm summer afternoon.

Charles Henry Root's name was variously spelled "Charlie", or sometimes "Charley", as you see here. On July 8, 1927, though, it was spelled "dominant major-league pitcher", as he held the Pirates to just one hit in a 1-0 Cubs win. The day before, the Cubs had taken over first place in the National League from Pittsburgh -- the first time they'd been in the top spot that late in the year since their pennant year of 1918 -- and Irving Vaughn of the Tribune sums up the excitement of a near no-hitter:

Air tight fielding behind brilliant pitching today gave the Cubs a 1 to 0 victory over the Pirates in the second game of the series for leadership of the National league. It was the Chicagoans' ninth straight win and increased their margin over Pittsburgh to one and a half games.

Charles Root, ace of the Cubs staff, pitched himself to the threshold of the undying fame of a no hit game, but a hit in the eighth inning by Johnny Gooch, substitute Pirates catcher, turned him back. But that lone blow by Gooch, delivered after two were out in the eighth inning, was the sum and total of the Pirates' attack for the day.

The Cubs scored their only run of the game on a throwing error by Pirates pitcher Lee Meadows, who thus ruined his own bid for a shutout. Root issued three walks in addition to giving up the single hit, but shut Pittsburgh down otherwise for that 1-0 win.

Root wound up leading the league in wins (26), games (48), innings (306) and surely would have won the Cy Young Award had there been one. Meanwhile, that nine-game streak was one of three that season for the Cubs of that length or more; they'd won 12 in a row in June and would again post nine straight victories in August. After a 3-0 win in Brooklyn on August 16, the Cubs had a 69-40 record and led the league by six games.

It wasn't to be. The Cubs went just 16-28 the rest of the way and finished fourth, 8½ games behind the Pirates, who got swept in the World Series -- their last Series appearance until 1960. Meanwhile, the Cubs had laid a foundation for greatness to come.