The year was 1949. The Cubs were coming off a 90-loss 1948 season that marked their first last-place finish since 1925.
And yet, no fewer than three Chicago television stations wanted to carry their games. WGN-TV had begun its slate of Cubs TV games the previous year along with WBKB-TV, and in 1949 WENR-TV, then the ABC-owned station in Chicago, also televised the full slate of Cubs home games. In an essay titled, "Philip K. Wrigley: Contrarian," George Castle wrote: "There were times when the Cubs game was the only telecast on the three channels on summer afternoons."
WENR, who used Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby as an announcer (by most accounts, he was awful), soon dropped out of Cubs TV broadcasting along with WBKB, leaving the field to WGN-TV.
Now, WLS-Ch. 7, the successor station to WENR, is returning to the Cubs broadcast roster for the first time in 66 years, with a 24-game slate each season through 2019. This afternoon's 1:20 p.m. contest against the Cardinals will be the first ABC-7 broadcast for 2015. John Idler, President and General Manager, ABC-7, said: "Broadcasting Chicago Cubs baseball on ABC 7 is an exciting moment in our station’s history. We are thrilled to be a part of this new chapter with the Chicago Cubs organization and are looking forward to kicking off our coverage with the fierce Cubs-Cardinals rivalry."
ABC-7 sports anchors Mark Giangreco and Jim Rose will join Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies in a pregame show beginning at 1 p.m. CT. Rose will be an on-field reporter during the game. For other stations in the Midwest carrying this game, click here (link opens .pdf).
So, in many ways this is a welcome back to baseball for ABC-7. I'm pretty sure the 2015 Cubs will do better than their 1949 counterparts. That team lost 93 games, then a franchise record.