3 fun stories from 1907

For many years, Major League batters received various awards for specific feats on the field, such as hitting a sign on the outfield wall.

The reward usually was a suit or other article of clothing.

But not always.

For example, in the Cubs' first game of 1907, Frank Schulte won something that he literally was able to sit back and enjoy for years to come.

The game took place at Pittsburgh's Exposition Park, on the bitterly cold afternoon of April 17.

Here is how "Sy" of the Chicago Tribune described what happened:

"The Cubs' hits were longer than their opponents', and Schulte began furnishing a home in anticipation of his coming nuptials by earning a big upholstered chair, which a local furniture company advertised as a reward for the first home run of the local season.

"Schulte didn't wait long, either.

"The chair was suspended in a prominent place on the side of a building across from the players' hotel, and Frank was seen sizing up all morning. It apparently looked so good he took no chances of letting someone beat him to it, but swatted a liner over [left fielder Fred] Clarke's head the first time up, and went around the bases in whirlwind time."



Sy's report continued:

"It was the stereotyped 1907 diamond openings -- cold, dreary, and comfortless, yet with a big crowd of faithful bugs on hand, braving germs of every breed.

"The Cubs rode into town early this morning in the wake of a snow storm of mild proportions. There was ice as well as snow in the air, and the gray sky threatened to let loose enough fluffy water to bury the diamond, but kindly refrained. Not until noon was a definite decision made to play, the conditions were so bad.

"Both teams were ready and willing, having become hardened, but President [Barney] Dreyfuss has been sick with a cold and did not dare take the chance of sitting outdoors in such weather. Consequently the Pirates' boss was anxious to have the game called off rather than have it played without him.

"However, when the weather bureau reported the outlook for the next two days promised worse instead of better conditions, it was decided not to put off the lid prying, but to pull off the contest without Barney."



The planned pregame festivities quick went awry:

"The usual parade indigenous to rural districts was the starting feature and was to have been taken in automobiles, preceded by a brass band, but only three-fourths of the parade came off. Seven or eight machines were ordered to convey the star exhibits through the principal streets, but apparently the magnitude of the order floored the local agent to whom it was given.

"Only five autos showed up and after three had been packed full of Pirate crews not enough were left for the champions. A long delay occurred while frenzied efforts were made to get more buzz wagons, and finally the parade started, leaving seven Cubs stranded on the curb.

"They were finally rescued by Treasurer Williams, who hired a railroad hotel bus and had the marooned lads conveyed direct to the grounds. They fared better than their exhibited fellows, for they escaped a long ride in open machines."



"The Pirate field, which recently was flooded many feet deep, was in better condition than could have been expected, but still was damp and slow, balls dropping dead in the outfield. It required a mighty hit by Schulte to drive that ball to the left field fence for a home run.

"That hit came after [Vic] Willis had retired the first Cubs to face him with ease. Therefore, it was all the more exhilarating.

"At that, Frank had some help to complete the circuit. Clarke started in on the line drive, which would have cleared his head twenty feet if he had gone the right way at first, then had to turn and chase the ball, and slow work in relaying it gave Schulte the right of way to the plate."


The Pirates evened the score in the bottom of the first, but the Cubs regained the lead in the fourth on a double by Solly Hofman and a throwing error by shortstop Honus Wagner.

They broke the game open in the fifth, when Schulte singled home runners on second and third, and went on to win, 6-2.

By winning, Sy wrote, "The Cubs maintained their unbroken record and still are champions of the Polar Bear and National leagues."



On May 17, a day short of a month later, it was player-manager Frank Chance who was out the cost of a hat but gained a pair shoes.

Cubs starter Jack Pfiester shut out the host Doves at Boston through the first 3 innings, but spitballer Vive Lindaman blanked the Cubs, too.

"Not until the fourth round did the Cubs open on the moist artist," Charles Dryden reported in the Tribune. "Chance reached out and rapped a wild pitch for a double that counted the first run. Such conduct is enough to put a dent in any pitcher.

"Capt. Chance had what might be called an in and out day. He was first out a $5 hat that he promised Pfiester for [the pitcher] making a hit.

"Then the peerless leader cashed in on a pair of shows for swatting a home run over left field among the railroad tracks. The ball knocked a dinner pail off a handcar passing at the time.

"If Chance does not have to pay for the dinner pail, the day should just balance. The $5 shoes will offset the $5 lid he owes Pfiester."


Chance's double, with 2 out and a runner on first, put a dent in a sign on the right field fence that advertised dog biscuits.

In the next inning, the Cubs doubled their lead on a sacrifice fly that left the bases empty with 2 down.

"When Pfiester started for the pan, Chance promised him a $5 hat if he made a swat. The demon Dutchman range the bell with a line shot through the box that hit second base. Loud laughter on the Cub bench."

A walk, a single, a double steal aided by a wild throw on the trailing runner and an infield single tallied 2 more runs and left runners on the corner.

When the runner on first tried to steal second, the catcher whistled a throw toward third baseman Dave Brain, hoping to catch lead runner Joe Tinker napping.

"The ball hit Brain in the eye, and while he was groping for his lost sight, Tinker sneaked home with the fourth run" of the inning.

Chance's homer came in the eighth and wrapped up the scoring in a 7-0 victory. Pfiester allowed only 5 hits, 3 of them to Brain. All were singles.



The Cubs took 3 of 4 games in the May series at Boston. They also won 3 of 4 the next time they faced the Doves, at home, June 18-20.

When that series ended, the Cubs were 41-12, in first place by 7 games. The Doves, at 22-31, were fifth, 19 games behind.

But when it came to uniforms, the Doves were in a league of their own.

"No more stylish outfit has visited our fair city," Dryden declared in the June 19 Tribune. "They wear real clothes, under the guidance of Mr. G. Dovey [the team's new owner and source of their nickname] and seem fond of the idea.

"Time was on the road when those heavy boys roomed under high sidewalks and took window board in front of the best restaurants. When they did take a hotel it was the kind at which other teams would not let their watches stop.

"Look at them now. Hung up at the Brevoort and riding to the yard in a splendid new yellow bus with No. 7 on the bow. A large squad of fanatics gathered on the roof and at the gate to size up the toilets the athletes wore."



More from Dryden:

"Last season some shapeless bunches of gray burlap devoid of mark or letter fluttered from the weary frames of F. Tenney [Manager Frank Tenney] & Co.

"From the bus stepped a proud and smiling crew. Each man wore a navy blue coat with an ornate white B on the bosom. Around the cuffs was a single white cord, indicating that 1907 is the first year the coats have been used. On each bean sat a jaunty blue cap and each man had shoes either on his feet or in his hand.

"The crowd had another gasp coming when the coats were peeled off, and the athletes hopped forth in traveling suits of the best gray material. Mr. Dovey's chest heaved when he heard words of praise and astonishment exploding on every side. It was, indeed, a proud day for him.

"Nor was that all. Cap Tenney had his hair cut, starting from nothing at the back of the neck and growing longer until the main crop lost itself under the new cap. Welcome, well dressed athletes.

"When the heavy fellows got to fussing with the Cubs those present realized that clothes have plenty to do in making the man."



Indeed, the teams were tied at 1 until the seventh. The Cubs had 2 out, 2 on and Chance coming to the plate. Catcher Tom Needham "called Cy Young into consultation. When they do that stunt look for something good. Said Tom to Cy:

" 'These champions of the N. L. and breakers of the world's record [with 116 wins in 1906] are up against it hard. We are too swell for them. To date they have eleven swats, mostly solid smashes, and one run. If we do not use force they will lose.'

" 'Just as you say,' replied Mr. I. Young, better known as Cy. Thereupon he walked Chance and [Newt] Randall and forced in the winning run. Clever idea.

"The foregoing may not be a verbatim report of what Tom said to Cy, but the main doings are a facsimile of what Young did for the struggling Cubs."

Cubs pitcher Mordecai Brown gave up 9 hits, the last a 1-out triple in the ninth. Brown then notched a strikeout, issued a walk and struck out the final better to preserve the 2-1 win.



The next day, the Cubs spotted the Doves a first-inning run, then went in front on a 2-run homer by Harry Steinfeldt in the third and won, 3-1.

"Mr. Dovey's dry cleaned athletes sawed off another robust game," Dryden wrote, "but it was not quite bulky enough to stop the Cubs. Seeming like nothing short of war or pestilence will dismay that gang."

He also wrote:

"One word more about the swagger garb the beany boys are wearing this season. It is worth printing by way of contrast to the ragged past.

"They came out again in the lovely varnished bus. Mr. Boultes [22-year-old pitcher Jake Boultes], the youngest and fairest Bean in the pod, dressed in the new clothes, sat on top with the driver. He was the sample athlete, an inkling of what the bus contained. Bully idea. We like to see enterprise and will do our share to boost Boston."



Dryden wasn't quite done with his fashion coverage:

"Here is a secret the other clubs do not know. Each dry cleaned athlete owns four of the very best suits -- two white ones for home service and two grays for duty on the road.

"At every stop on the road one set of gray is dry cleaned for a splurge at the next town. For instance, the togs in which the beany boys staggered the populace at St. Louis are at the dry cleaner's here and will look like new in Gotham, the next stand.

"Mr. Dovey is so pleased with the sensation his dry cleaned athletes have created that he will carry a special dry cleaning car on the circuit next season and have the suits pressed every morning."



Boston scored 3 times in the first inning of the series' third game and wound up winning, 5-4.

"Sooner or later those new regalias were bound to get in their deadly work," Dryden said, "and yesterday was the auspicious epoch.

"By pursuing a pure and spotless policy both as to clothes and export behavior in the ball yard, reward at last came to Mr. G. Dovey's young men."

Pfiester, victim of Boston's early salvo, came to the plate in the seventh with the Cubs down a run.

"Win a suit of clothes, Jack!" yelled a fan, as that was the prize for a home run over the fence at the West Side Grounds.

"Jack smote a single," noted Dryden, "which should be good for one leg of the pants."



Dryden had little to say about the series finale, a 4-0 Cubs victory, because only a few hours before the game began, the teams agreed on a trade, with the Cubs getting outfielder Del Howard in exchange for fellow outfielder Randall and rookie infielder Bill Sweeney, who had played exactly 3 games as a Cub.

"Sweeney and Randall knew not that their names were changed to Bean until called in from the clubhouse at 2 p.m. and introduced to the new proprietor," Dryden explained. "Howard learned he had changed from a Bean to a Cub coming out in the bus.

"He and Randall made a lightning switch of duds, took the oath of allegiance, and played each other's old jobs -- Newt in left and Del in right. . . .

"Owing to the suddenness of the swap a few obituary lines about the athletes involved might not be amiss.


"Newt Randall developed a winning streak before the season opened. A maiden of rare and magic beauty in far Wisconsin saw his picture in a sporting extra. She wrote to Newt offering her budding affection and asking for a comb set with brilliants.

"He sent her a comb with fine teeth set close together, and the maiden's love grew cold. Since then Mr. Randall has realized his mistake. He should do well in Boston, where the girls are too cultured to ask for combs."



In a notes column, Dryden offered this thought:

"While Howard came here as a dry cleaned athlete, Del proved that he would wash.

"While sliding to second in the sixth the new Cub scooped his sweaty face full of the pulverized scenery and washed it off at the water cooler."


Howard wound up playing 51 games for the Cubs by the end of the season, batting only .230/.269/.270, with 2 doubles and 2 triples among 34 hits. He frequently spelled Chance at first base in the late innings.

The Cubs wound up with a glittering record of 107-45-3, won the pennant by 17 games and then won the World Series, 4-0-1, against the American League champion Tigers.

Howard hit .279/.338/.330 in 96 games as the Cubs won the Series again in 1908, then slumped to .197/.282/.251 in 69 games in 1909, the last of his 5 seasons in the big leagues.


Like many players of that era, Howard continue to play in the minors -- in his case, in 1910-14, 1916-17 and, finally, for 2 games in 1919, at age 41.

As a Cub, he hit 2 home runs, the first at Boston in 1908 and the second at New York in 1909.

Neither won him furniture, shoes or a suit.

FanPosts are written by readers of Bleed Cubbie Blue, and as such do not reflect the views of SB Nation or Vox Media, nor is the content endorsed by SB Nation, Vox Media or Al Yellon, managing editor of Bleed Cubbie Blue or reviewed prior to posting.