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Book Review: ‘Chicago Cubs, A Decade-By-Decade History’

You know this story, and parts of it well. This book still has things you haven’t seen before.

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This photo graces the book’s cover
Courtesy Agate Publishing

The CubsWorld Series championship has brought many books. There’s been one about the title itself and how the team got there, one that details Theo Epstein’s plan and there’s been one biography, from David Ross.

The Chicago Tribune has unloaded its archives for a coffee-table book titled “Chicago Cubs, A Decade-By-Decade History,” and even if you’re quite familiar with our favorite team and its long history that dates back to the formation of the National League in 1876, you should buy this book.

Why? Because not only does it go into great detail about every decade of Cubs history with essays by current Tribune writers Paul Sullivan, Dan McGrath, David Haugh and Joe Knowles as well as writers from the past such as Jerome Holtzman, Bill Jauss and Fred Mitchell, there is a treasure trove of photos in this book, many of which I had never seen before.

Each decade’s chapter features a timeline of key events, a “team of the decade,” feature stories about star players from that decade, and a “Moment In The Sun” essay about a player who was important for a short time, but whose story might have been forgotten over time. Example: an essay about Jeff Pico, who threw a four-hit shutout in his big-league debut May 31, 1988, but whose career never lived up to that early promise.

After all the decade chapters, the book concludes with an “Extra Innings” section that has photos and info on the Cubs’ various ballparks over the years with a detailed visual history and timeline of Wrigley Field, and also lists of all the Cubs’ no-hitters, postseason series, broadcasters (yes, all the way back to Cubs radio beginnings in 1924) and the writers’ choices for the five best and five worst trades in franchise history (I concur with their selections). Even though this book is put together by Tribune staff, they don’t make a big deal about the company’s ownership, then sale, of the team, simply noting it as part of the decade timelines. The book gives much more space, for example, to the hiring of Theo Epstein, which rated a seven-page essay with several photos.

But mostly, it’s the photos, carefully selected from Tribune archives. If you love this team, you’ll love this book. Well worth the reasonable list price of $36, and you can likely find it cheaper. Here’s a selection of photos from the book: