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A Day In Wrigley Field History: October 8, 1945

This World Series game is well worth remembering, for a number of reasons.

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

Until Theo & Co. bring us back to the Promised Land, Game 6 of the 1945 World Series will stand as the last World Series game won by the Cubs. It was a must-win game; the Cubs trailed the World Series three games to two, and that year's series was played in an unusual pattern due to wartime travel restrictions (the first three in Detroit, the last four in Chicago). The Cubs took a 7-3 lead into the eighth inning, but as Edward Burns wrote in the Tribune:

The Tigers tied the score in a four run eighth inning riot which was polished off by Greenberg's homer which tied the game at 7 to 7. 

If the Tigers had gone on to victory over the momentarily panicking Cubs, they would have been world champions right now, with the Tiger players possessed of $62,000 more than the Cubs. The Cubs hadn't won three games in a world series since they went on to be world champions in 1908.

The game stayed tied going into the bottom of the 12th thanks to four innings of shutout relief by Hank Borowy (who manager Charlie Grimm would then start on one day's rest in Game 7, to his eternal regret). Burns picks up the story:

Dewey Williams, first Cub to face Trout in the 12th grounded out to Eddie Mayo. Frank Secory, a great guy, but obscure this season except when he busted a 10th inning pinch double to beat those Cardinals in a vital down the stretch game early last month, batted for Lennie Merullo who had just left the game, injured.

Secory startled Trout and thousands of others by lining a whistling single to center. Billy Schuster, a fleet footed gent who has specialized this season in pinch running, went to first to run for Secory. Then Trout struck out Borowy.

I'm not sure exactly what the roster size was for the World Series in those days, but Grimm had used 15 position players already -- so that might be why Borowy had to bat. Also remember that many pitchers batted in those days, and Borowy wasn't a bad hitter; he had hit .198 that year with three doubles and a triple. Secory, incidentally, eventually became a National League umpire, serving for 19 seasons from 1952 to 1970. Burns again picks up the Game 6 action:

There were two out, remember, and with Trout bearing down first base seemed a long way from home, tho Hack, the next batsman, went to the plate with a record of three singles and two runs, the Cubs' first two, batted in.

Stan took a wide one, then two strikes. Then he rammed a hit to left. There was never any question about it being a hit. The caliber of the shot seemed up to Greenberg, the home run feller.

Hank charged the ball and seemed to have a good chance to halt Schuster at second base, certainly at third. As Greenberg bent forward to seize the ball, it bounded over his shoulder and toward the wall. Before he had a chance to recoup, Schuster had reached the plate with the winning run -- the run that sent thousands of fans reaching for cash to join the scramble for tickets to tomorrow's game, which will be the world championship, whoever wins.

(Note the spelling of "tho" for "though", one of Col. Robert McCormick's odd spelling quirks which were used in the Tribune until McCormick's death in 1955.)

Imagine that being the ending of a World Series game today. It would be legendary. You can see that game-winning play in this video (that specific play begins at 1:10):

You can clearly see the ball get past Greenberg as he runs toward the left-field wall, and Schuster rounding third base to score as the Cubs pile out of the third-base dugout to celebrate.

Speaking of those Game 7 tickets, Edward Prell of the Tribune wrote of the ticket lines:

Wrigley field's ticket corridors on Addison st. last night were illuminated by fires crackling inside tubs and garbage cans. At midnight the place was alive with more than 200 half frozen baseball fans of all descriptions and ages. They were there to gain priorities in the long lines that will form at 8 o'clock this morning before 28 ticket windows. 

What is this insanity about? It's the cash sale of 36,000 tickets for tomorrow's seventh and deciding game of the world series between the Cubs and Tigers.

In the absence of police, Andy Frain and all the ushers he could round up were stationed around the Wrigley field gates last night. Andy sent a hurry-up call to his uniformed men who were working the Marigold Gardens fights and the ice revue in the Coliseum.

Frain was kept busy bobbing his head in all directions trying to answer questions of all descriptions by fans who strolled by or staked claims to stations near the ticket windows. One fellow said he was a Cub stockholder and inquired concerning special consideration. Another one, from Waukegan, offered Andy a six pound fish if he could use his influence. Frain and his ushers were prepared to stay up all night, then continue through the day, until the sale is ended. He estimated that by 8 a.m. 35,000 to 40,000 fans would be storming the Cubs park.

It was, indeed, a different time.

Here are all the images from the 1945 Wrigley Field World Series program (click to embiggen). The meticulous hand scoring is from Game 5.