Nearly every week, while doing baseball research, I come across something that is every bit as interesting or funny as what I was working on.
Many times, it is just how a story is written. Journalism in general, and baseball stories in particular, were far different stylistically a century and more ago than they became in later eras.
When reading reports about the Cubs in online archives of daily newspapers, it saddens me to think that I could be the first person to read a particular story, in a particular paper, since the day it was published.
Following are 3 especially entertaining accounts of games that the Cubs played in the first 3 years of the Modern Era, 1901-03.
BEEF, BEANS, COURAGE AND FRECKLES
The Orphans, as the Cubs were known at the time, won their season opener in 1901. They lost their next 6 games and tumbled to last place in the 8-team National League.
They began a 19-game homestand on the Fourth of July by sweeping 2 games from Brooklyn. But that made their record only 21-42, and then they lost 5 out of 6, earning only a 10-inning victory over the Phillies on July 8, before dropping 2 in a row to Philadelphia.
The series finale took place on Thursday, July 11.
This is how it was described in the next day's edition of the Chicago Inter-Ocean:
FLICK'S HOME RUN
WINS IN ELEVENTH
Unlucky Remnants Cannot Stand
Chance of Prosperity.
EASON PITCHES WELL
Phillies Shut Out Until the Ninth,
Then Tie the Score.
Elmer Flick of the Philadelphia baseball club, limited, stood at the plate carrying a bat unlimited.
It was the eleventh inning, the scored was 3 to 3, and down at the hotel a plateful of beef and beans was chilling waiting for the coming of the absent Flick.
With his mind full of beef and beans, his heart full of courage, and his neck full of freckles, Mr. Flick swung hard at the ball.
There was a blinding streak of white light, and the ball shot abaft the horizon like a monkey acrobat falling off a parachute.
Over the score-board it sailed, dropped into the yard beyond, and lay there panting. Mr. Flick hied him around the bases, pausing majestically to touch each cushion, and Philadelphia had won the dire affair.
It was an eleven-inning game, which was thus handed over to the broad hats, and there was about as much excuse for losing it as there has been for giving up two-thirds of the games lost this season by Chicago.
For eight innings Mal Eason held the Quakers as safe as a prisoner in any station, but the one Johnson climbed out of. They could not hit him, and Chicago, by patient industry, accumulated three runs.
Then -- one instant -- a kaleidoscopic change -- a couple of horrid errors, a few safe swats, and the score was tied. A little longer, and Flick's home run. That was the story.
Chicago's Fine Start.
The small crowd was jubilant when Chicago reversed its usual customer, and got away in the lead.
[Topsy] Hartsel, who was the whole works all day, started out with a two-bagger, which would have been a home run had the ball not hit a wire and fallen back into the hands of the pursuing fielder.
[Danny] Green let one whack him in the ribs, and [Charlie] Dexter sacrificed. [Frank] Chance came up, whanged the leather smoking into the rurals, and in came two runs.
That put the populace in good humor, and the joy was rendered keener when, in the third, Hartsel broke loose again.
He caught a straight high shoot -- that is, high for him, about five inches off the ground -- and sent it to exactly the same spot as his two-bagger.
Phillies Even Up.
This time the ball went through, and the little man galloped round with the gay abandon of a head cheese rolling down a shuffleboard. And that was Chicago's finish, for the remnants never scored again.
For eight long innings the Quakers struggled in vain against the high outcurves of Eason. Their best men fanned wildly at that curve, and fell back heartbroken. The bleachers guyed the visitors, asking them where they learned the national game, and what was the difference between a home run and a hen's half-brother.
Matters stood thus in the ninth, when Jack Barry was sent to bat for Hokus Dugglesby, who made a hit last September and hasn't touched the ball in the interim.
Barry hit down to [third baseman] Raymer, and Fred made a throw so wild the ball was buried under a gate. Eason dug it up and shied it over third, so that Barry circulated, and a panic was instilled into the regular losers.
Thomas came up, [catcher] Kahoe muffed an easy foul, and Roy followed his luck with a single Then came [Harry] Wolverton with a two-bagger, and Elmer Flick, with one of the same.
In three minutes the whole hue of the game had been repainted, and Eason stood in the middle, wailing bitterly.
White Pitches Well.
J. Harry White, the college wart, who pitches for Philadelphia between intervals of tying a calf in the professor's room, went in, and blanked Chicago scientifically the remainder of the game.
There was some sharp work by both teams, and both pitchers abused the umpire.
Mr. White became so expressive that [Umpire] Cunningham asked him, "Do you mean that for me, or for the ball?"
"That goes double and takes in your grandmother," snarled Mr. White, and there were prospects of trouble, but a fly ball went up, and all hands got interested.
Thus the game spun on, with everybody confident -- that Chicago would soon be beaten.
So it proved, for Flick made his homer, the remnants were shut out, and darkness came to scowl upon another beating.
Incredible, right? Alas, there is no byline on the story to identify its author.
The Orphans remained in eighth place after every game until Sept. 3. They claimed seventh that day, and 3 more times later in the month after having fallen back to eighth.
They were last again with 2 games left in the season, but split those games and almost miraculously finished in a tie for sixth, at 53-86-1, along with New York (52-85-4). Cincinnati brought up the rear at 52-87-3.
The Pirates (90-49-1) won by the pennant by 7.5 games over the runnerup Phillies (83-57) -- and 37 over the Orphans and Giants.
THE UMPIRE'S NEW PANTS
In 1902, the Orphans had a new manager, Frank Selee, and got off to a hot start. They won 3 in a row and 6 of 7 to begin the season, and on May 25 beat the Giants, concluding a 23-game homestand in which they went 14-8-1.
The next day, they began a 21-game road trip at St. Louis with a 5-4 victory that improved their record to 21-10, good for second place -- although 6 games behind the front-running Pirates, who were a gaudy 28-5.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, were just 10-19, leaving them last, 16 games behind Pittsburgh.
So when the Orphans and Cardinals met in the second game of their series, no one expected St. Louis to win by a score of 11-2.
And it really should have been 11-0.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of May 28, 1902:
If Manager Selee can round up the remnants of his baseball team a game will be played at League Park this afternoon by the Chicagoes [sic] and the Cardinals.
Nobody would believe the statement after witnessing yesterday's burlesque by the visitors, but Manager Selee makes the positive statement that his men can play baseball. . . .
"How we came to be second in the league race" would be an interesting topic to the curious, if Manager Selee would consent to treat it in pamphlet form.
To the casual spectator at the League Park games participated in by the Chicagos the subject would be of great interested as showing how the impossible may be possible.
Yesterday's game was an enjoyable one from the standpoint of burlesque; as a baseball exhibition it rather palled. The number of abortive hits that went safe was appalling and some of the plays made would be a disgrace to the Cardinals.
Pitcher [Fred] Glade is a lovely player to have in the game -- for the opposition. He fields his position so well that he let [third baseman Charlie] Dexter break his neck trying to get a pop fly that fell safe about 15 feet south of the pitcher's box.
He also let everybody else work callous places on their feet trying for balls that were properly his. As a pitcher he was a shining mark and the best advance that be given him on yesterday's showing is to go back to the hiding place from which he so unfortunately for Chicago emerged.
Cold Marred the Game.
The contest was one round of pleasure for the spectators, who enjoyed the vaudeville quite as much as the Cardinals' victory. There was comfortable feeling throughout the contest that St. Louis would win and the only drawback to perfect happiness on the part of the onlookers was the tendency of the mustache to accumulate icicles.
Next to Glade the most interesting adjunct to the game was Umpire O'Day. But for him the visitors probably would have been shut out.
O'Day had on a new suit with a nicely creased front to the trousers. So intent was he upon admiring the set of his trousers on nether extremities that when [Joe] Tinker struck out he did not even see the play.
By the time [pitcher Ed] Murphy had called his attention to the fact that Tinker should be called out, and as that player was getting ready to take him place on the bench, O'Day came to life and declared he had no knowledge of any ball being pitched.
On the next ball thrown Tinker hammered out a home run with a man on base.
The remainder of the game, aside from the fact that the Cardinals won, should be put away in the archives of oblivion.
Glade achieved oblivion, at least as far as the Orphans were concerned.
The 26-year-old right hander's start against the Cardinals had been his Major League debut. In 8 innings, he had surrendered 11 runs, 8 earned, on 13 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 3.
Five days later, without pitching again, Glade was released.
"Sorry to let him go," the Chicago Tribune quoted Selee as saying. "He is a good pitcher, but we have so many good ones."
Not nearly enough, as it turned out.
After a win at New York on June 3, the Orphans were 12 games above .500, at 24-12-1.
But they went only 44-57-5 after that, to finish 1 game below .500, at 68-69-6. That relegated them to fifth place, half a game behind the Reds (70-70) and 34 in back of the champion Pirates (103-36). The Cardinals (56-78) came in sixth, 10.5 games behind the Orphans.
As for Glade, he returned to St. Joseph, Mo., of the Western League, where he had pitched before coming to the Orphans. He remained there in 1903, then made it back to the big leagues in 1904, with the St. Louis Browns.
He went 18-15 that year, with a 2.27 ERA. He had the most losses in the American League in 1905, going 6-25, but bounced back to post records of 15-14 and 13-9 the next 2 seasons. Over all 4 years, he was 52-63, 2.52. His ERA never was higher than 2.81.
In November 1907, Glad was part of a 3-for-3 swap with the Highlanders, today's Yankees. He made 1 start for New York in April of 1908, another in May and 3 in June. He was 0-4, 4.22 when he was released.
That marked the end of his 6-season MLB career, in which he was 52-68, 2.62. His ERA+ was 96; his WAR, 11.7.
WILD AND WOOLLY WILEY
Glade was not the first pitcher to be worked over by an opposing team, nor by any means the last.
The following year, 1903, it was the Cubs as the team now was known, who did the roughing up, at home against Boston on June 8.
Five days earlier, after their sixth straight game, the Cubs had opened a 3-game lead. Then they lost 4 in a row to the Giants, leaving them 1 game behind New York, 30-15 to 30-13, as they began a series against the sixth-place Beaneaters (17-23).
From the June 9 Chicago Tribune, which persisted in calling the home team the Colts, their name in 1890-98:
BAD GAME WON
BY THE COLTS.
Wild Scramble in One Inning
Gives Selee's Men Vic-
tory Over Boston.
SIX RUNS IN A CLUSTER.
Chicago's Colts got back in their winning stride yesterday and in a poorly played game defeated the tribe of [Manager Al] Buckenburger from Boston in the first game of the series by a score of 8 to 6.
That the locals won was not due to their own good playing, for there was little, if any, improvement shown over that in the disastrous New York series. Boston put up an exceptionally poor exhibition, and this, added to the wild and woolly work of Pitcher Wiley Platt, was enough to cause the defeat of any team.
Platt started out like a whirlwind and threw a scare into the Colts by striking out Harley and Slagle. This intimidation lasted for just three innings, then wore off, and the Colts started doing things. They did not stop until six men had registered at the counting station, and Selee's men were in the majority by two runs.
Nine men in all faced Platt in this round. [Jimmy] Slagle was a dead rabbit on a fly and [Frank] Chance was safe on "Batty's" fumble.
[Boston's second baseman was Ed Abbaticchio, aka "Batty"]
Then [Davy] Jones pumped out a single and Platt, unable to stand the strain any longer, hit [Bobby] Lowe in the ribs, filling the bases. [Doc] Casey bounded one over Platt's head and was safe, Chance scoring.
Everybody Comes Marching Home.
Little [Johnny] Evers sauntered up and smashed the ball an awful crack into right center. [Ex-Cub Charlie] Dexter got it on the bound and whipped it to [Ed] Gremminger to head off Casey, but the third baseman, instead of waiting for the bound, tried to scoop it.
It never touched him and, instead, got lost under the benches near the grand stand, while everybody -- Jones, Lowe, Casey, and Evers -- came home.
Then Johnny Kling, not wanting to be out of the fun altogether, smashed the ball to the left field bleachers and never stopped running until he got back to the players' bench.
All this did not settle Platt down, and when [Bob] Wicker came up he hit the pitcher in the back of the head with the ball and Wicker went down for the count. It looked like a bad knock, but the slab artist gamely went to first, and, strangely enough, hit pitching seemed to improve after that.
The Colts grew tired of base running, and after Wicker had been forced at second, [Dick] Harley tried to steal and was an easy out.
"The fourth was a fierce inning," the uncredited writer said in his accompanying notes of the game, "and the Colts might have been playing yet had Harley not made a martyr of himself. Platt lost all control of the sphere."
That 6-run outburst marked the end of the day for Platt, a 28-year-old lefty. The Cubs added single runs against his replacement in the next 2 innings, then withstood single runs by Boston in the seventh and eighth to notch the victory.
The Cubs won the final 2 games of the series, too, but then went 5-9 the rest of the month and slipped to third place, at 38-24.
Four straight wins in the third week of July lifted them back to second, at 50-33, after which they split 14 games and dropped back to third.
And that is where they finished, with a record of 82-56-1, a game and half in back of the runnerup Giants (84-55-3) and 6 behind the pennant-winning Pirates (91-49-1).