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Which pre-TV event in Cubs history would you most want to see?

Another thought exercise.

Charles Conlon

In this scenario, you’ll have to stretch your imagination a bit, so here’s the setup.

You’ve discovered time travel, how to make it work and how to return to your current existence.

But it will work only once, only to the past, and for only one purpose: For you to go back in time to see one Cubs game or event. You can’t take your smartphone with you to take photos; you’ll wind up dressed in period clothing so you don’t stand out, and all you’ll bring back are memories. You will have one advantage: Unlike all the other people at the ballpark watching the game you’ve chosen, you will know ahead of time what’s coming, so you can prepare to focus on it.

I’m going to list a few famous events in Cubs history that you could see, and I’m limiting it to the pre-television era because, well, it’s at least theoretically possible that there could be video (or film) of any Cubs game from 1948 on, when Cubs home games began to be televised on a regular basis.

Here, in chronological order, are your choices.

The “Merkle Game,” September 23, 1908

This is not only one of the most famous games in Cubs history, it’s one of the most famous in MLB history. You know the basics; Fred Merkle, then a Giants rookie, was on first base when Al Bridwell of the Giants appeared to drive in the winning run. But Merkle failed to touch second base, and the Cubs went through all kinds of contortions to try to force him at second to end the inning, based on a similar play the Cubs had ruled against them a few weeks earlier. Eventually the N.L. ruled the game a tie, to be replayed. Would you want to see the chaos?

The photo at the top of this post is, as I wrote here earlier this year, likely Merkle on first base just before Bridwell’s hit.

The replay of the Merkle Game, October 8, 1908

The Cubs won eight of nine but had not yet clinched the pennant, so the tie had to be replayed. The Cubs traveled to New York to face a hostile crowd, but Mordecai Brown outdueled Christy Mathewson 4-2, and the Cubs had their third straight pennant.

1908 World Series Game 5, Cubs win their second straight series, October 14, 1908

It was a chilly day in Detroit when the Cubs won this World Series; only 6,210 paid to see the Cubs win the championship. And it would be 108 years before they would win another one.

August 31, 1932: The Cubs come from four runs down in the 10th inning

I wrote about this game several years ago in the Game from Cubs History series. Here’s the summary of what happened:

Giants scored four in the top of the tenth, taking a 9-5 lead. In the last of the tenth, after the first two men are out, the Cubs score two and have two on for [Kiki] Cuyler, who hits a walkoff HR for a 10-9 win, their 12th straight.

Oh, and all that 10th inning scoring happened in a pouring rain... after there had been a partial eclipse of the sun visible in Chicago about an hour before game time. If things like this happened in a game today, it would be an ESPN instant classic.

Babe Ruth’s “called shot” home run in the World Series, October 1, 1932

Ruth had already homered once off Charlie Root when he came to bat with one out in the top of the fifth inning with the game tied 4-4.

He homered to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Legend has it that he pointed to center field and then homered to that spot. There’s film!

Ruth points, to be sure. But what was he pointing at? 86 years later, there’s still no definitive answer.

The Homer in the Gloamin’, September 28, 1938

Gabby Hartnett hit a walkoff home run in what was going to be the last inning before the umpires would have called the game for darkness, though contemporary observers noted that there was still plenty of light when the game ended about 5:35 p.m.

The win was the ninth straight for the Cubs in a streak that eventually reached 10, but it didn’t clinch the pennant; that would have to wait until they won the second game of a doubleheader in St. Louis October 1.

Which one of these would you choose to see and keep forever in your memory? Or perhaps you have another pre-1948 choice.

I don’t want to influence your decision, but here’s mine: I’d pick the Merkle Game. I would have loved to see that play exactly as it set up, and the confusion and pandemonium that ensued.

Now it’s your turn.


The Cubs game I’d time travel to see would be...

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    The Merkle game, September 23, 1908
    (70 votes)
  • 4%
    The replay of the Merkle game, October 8, 1908
    (12 votes)
  • 17%
    Cubs win the World Series in Detroit, October 14, 1908
    (48 votes)
  • 2%
    The "Cuyler Game," August 31, 1932
    (8 votes)
  • 32%
    Babe Ruth’s "called shot," October 1, 1932
    (92 votes)
  • 14%
    The Homer in the Gloamin’, September 28, 1938
    (40 votes)
  • 3%
    A different game (leave in comments)
    (10 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now