2 fun stories about Cubs games at Brooklyn

Next Aug. 28 will mark 65 years since the Cubs played their final game at Brooklyn.

By 2025, they will have traveled to the West Coast to play the Dodgers for as many seasons, 68, as they did to the East Coast before their long-time rivals relocated to Los Angeles.


Between an 8-4 loss at Washington Park on May 29, 1890, and a 4-3, 14-inning loss at Ebbets Field on Aug. 28, 1957, the Cubs played 698 games at Brooklyn.

They won 328, lost 364 and tied 6, a .474 winning percentage

During the same span, in 708 games at Chicago, the Cubs were 393-308-7, .560.


The Cubs were part of many memorable events at Brooklyn. Following are the stories of 2 of them



In 1912, the Dodgers finished seventh in the National League. Their record of 58-95 was better only than that of the Braves (52-101) and left them 46 games behind the champion Giants (103-48). They trailed the third-place Cubs (91-59) by 33.5 games.

Opening Day of 1913 found the Dodgers with a brand new home, named after owner Charlie Ebbets, and an old name: Superbas, which had been their nickname from 1899 through 1910.

A crowd of 10,000 witnessed the first game at the new park on April 9. The home team lost, 1-0, to the Phillies, and lost 3 more games to the same opponent April 18-21 before finally winning for the first time in its new digs against the Giants on April 26.

Then they lost their next game there in 13 innings -- by a score of 6-0, no less. After that, they won 13 of 15, including 2 of 3 when the Cubs paid their first visit May 6-8.

On May 19, the Superbas completed a 3-game sweep of the Cardinals, 2-1, in 11 innings. Beginning the next day, with a 4-1 loss to the Pirates, they dropped 7 in a row at home; beat the Braves, 15-3, on July 2; then lost 10 straight.

The last of those 10 was an 11-inning, 6-5 defeat by the Cubs in the opener of a 4-game series on Saturday, July 12. That loss left the Superbas in fifth place, 35-38 overall but just 15-25 at home, compared to 20-13 on the road.


Those 40 games represented more than half the total games scheduled for Brooklyn in 1913. And it was the site of yet 1 more game, a 9-2 win over the Cubs on Monday, before Ebbets Field finally was "dedicated" prior to the series finale on Tuesday, July 15.



Here is I. E. Sanborn of the Chicago Tribune began his account of that peculiar, months-late, mid-week celebration -- an account in which he still called the hosts the Dodgers.


Chicago's Cubs made the midsummer retroactive dedication of Ebbets Field one to be forgotten as fast as possible by defeating the representatives of Brooklyn, 9 to 6, in an unstable combat, in spite of the many joy fixings and the presence of several notable potentates of the baseball world.

From the time Vic Saier's tall fly dropped over the crest of the right field fence in the second inning until Jake Daubert's elevated fly sank safely into [Art] Phelan's mitt in the ninth there was as much uncertainty surrounding the outcome as there is about the date of turning the first spade of dirt for Chicago's subway.

Not that the game was airtight. It was so loose you never could tell what was going to happen.

The Trojans [i.e., Cubs] went along with a lot of help from the home fellows and increased Vic Saier's second inning tally to five rounds. At that period the Dodgers had done so little to Larry Cheney that it looked like Bathhouse John running uncontestedly for mayor of the First Ward.



Brooklyn rallied to score 3 times in the sixth, but the Cubs responded immediately with 4 runs in the seventh. They proved important when the Superbas got a 2-out, 3-run homer in the ninth.

More from Sanborn:


Otherwise, the retroactive dedication was [a] considerable success. The denizens of the burrow [sic] of Brooklyn were regaled by a swell brass wind concert for two hours or more before there was anything else doing. Meantimes the notables of the land were congregating in the spacious lobby of many entrances.

And thereby hangs a tale.

President Frank Farrell of the New York Yankees conveyed President [Ban] Johnson of the American League and several others invited guests to Ebbets Field in his motor car and disembarked them in the lobby.

While Farrell and one of his friends were parking the machine in a nearby lot the notables were ushered into the inner shrine by President Ebbets himself.

When Farrell and his friend sought entrance there was no one except hoi polloi in sight, so they hunted up the pass gate and told the guardian who they were.

Said guard could not find their names on his list, and so informed Farrell; whereupon the owner of the Yankees sidestepped to a nearby booth and purchased reserved seat tickets for himself and friend.



There was one other pre-game obstacle, according to Sanborn's notes column:

"When the boy who operates the megaphone was announcing the batteries of the day, the great Zim [Heinie Zimmerman] playfully dropped a baseball into the megaphone, effectually choking the information bureau until the obstruction was extracted.

"This was done without injury to Zim's ankle, although he nearly dislocated his lower jaw laughing."



The Superbas earned a split of the series 24 hours later with an 11-inning, 4-3 win. But by season's end, they were just 29-47-1 at home, compared to 36-37-2 on the road.

Despite playing 2 more games at home, they scored 3 fewer runs, 296 to 299, and they surrendered nearly a run per game more in Brooklyn, 343, than they did everywhere else, 270.

They would have finished above .500 on the road had they won either of 2 games at Boston on the final day of the season. Those losses made the Superbas 65-84-3, placing them sixth, 34.5 games behind the Giants (101-51) and 13 in back of the third-place Cubs (88-65-2), who wound up 1 game below the runnerup Phillies (88-63-8).



Besides his home run on Dedication Day at Ebbets Field, Vic Saier also had 2 singles, walked twice and stole a base.

The Cubs' 22-year-old first baseman played 9 games at the new park in 1913, and in those games he slashed .400/.526/.700, thanks to 12 hits in 30 at bats, including 2 doubles, 2 triples and that lone home run.

In all games on the road, Saier slashed .281/.348/.797, with 3 homers, well below his .298/.396/.514 with 11 homers in home games.

During 7 seasons as a Cub, Saier batted .293/.404/.447 at Ebbets Field: 44 for 150, with 6 doubles, 4 triples and 3 homers. In all road games, in contrast, his line was .253/.344/.380, with 19 homers.

At home, Saier was .272/.359/.437, with 36 homers, including .283/.366/.466, with 31 homers, in 5 seasons at the West Side Grounds and .241/.354/.354 in 2 seasons at Weeghman Park, today's Wrigley Field.


Saier really played only 1 year at Weeghman/Wrigley. In 1917, he broke his leg sliding into home in the Cubs' fifth game of the season, on April 15, and returned to go 2 for 4 in their final game, on Sept. 30.

Then he spent all of 1918 working in a defense plant to air the war effort. During the off season, he Cubs released Saier. He signed with Pirates, batted only .223/.306/.313 in 58 games through early August, then retired, at age 28.

He played just 2 games at Ebbets Field in his last season, going 1 for 6 and walking 3 times.

Four years earlier, Saier fared much better.



After his Dedication Day home run in 1913, Saier played 8 games at Ebbets Field before he homered again, a solo shot in the second inning of the Cubs' first game of 1915 at Brooklyn, on May 11.

He did not homer in the final 3 games of that series, any of 4 games in July or the first game of a series that began Wednesday, Aug. 18.

The next afternoon, Saier flied out when he led off the second inning. With 2 away, a single, a passed ball and a single gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

But the Robins -- as Brooklyn now was known -- scored 4 runs in the bottom of the inning, on 3 hits, a walk, an error and 2 steals, the second of home, with 2 down.

They added a run in the third, making the score 5-1.



The Brooklyn Eagle sports writer who went by "Sy" composed this one-of-a-kind description of what happened next:


Zimmerman singled over second into center in the fourth. He went right home when Vic Saier clouted a four-bagger to center.

It was a four-base clout. It was not a fluke.

The sunshine, the Democratic Administration, no religious prejudice or such extraneous reasons had aught to do with the blow.

It passed entirely over Brother [Hi] Myers, who was running speedily but was late making the boat.


As has been said before: They don't write 'em like that any more!

The Cubs scored once in the fifth, thereby closing to within 5-4, and pulled even in the eighth.



Sy detailed how the tie was achieved:


Saier singled to right, and went to second when Cy Williams was hit by a pitched ball. Williams was knocked out. George Zabel, a pitcher person, ran for Williams.

The change had hardly been made when Saier and the pitcher started a steal of third and second, with none out, and on the first ball. [Third baseman] Gus Getz was plying in because he had a hunch that Art Phelan would slam the ball in his direction, Art having driven five balls toward third in two games.

With these wrong deductions excusably in his noodle, Gus, as has been said, was far in the infield. Saier ran behind him and was safe at third, [catcher] Lew McCarty making a good throw to Getz. Zabel simultaneously went to second.


The sequence of events showed that [Manager] Roger Bresnahan is using his head as well as his voice in handling the Cubs. We admire Roger, as brains are none too plentiful in these days of free education.

Roger gave us a tip on a horse race once. We didn't take the tip and saved a lot of money. That was back in the olden times when Uncle Wilbert Robinson wore a mustache and won ball games by telling the umpires funny stories.


With the runners on second and third, Phelan delivered exactly as forecasted by G. Getz. He slammed a single through the third baseman's position and that single scored Saier with the run that caused a million spasms to run down the spin of Uncle Wilbert Robinson. Uncle Wilbert and Getz had figured their defensive strategy perfectly, but Phelan had put the strategy stuff on the everlasting blink.

[Jimmy] Archer was thrown out by Getz and the inning was over, which was well. None of the home crowd wanted to see that inning go a step further.



Sy's account of the bottom of the inning, printed earlier in the story, was every bit as colorful:


We wish Rudyard Kipling were around reading copy on this story. Maybe Ruddy would be able to tell us at the proper point at which to make the start.

Ruddy might mention that Brooklyn won eventually because Larry Cheney made one of the most complete wild pitches imaginable when he put a hole in the wire screen with a miscellaneous heave in the eighth inning.

The score was tied at that point, and [George] Cutshaw was on third. Cutshaw went home because he remembered he had left the water running in the bathroom, or something, and the expeditious dispatch from third to fourth base by Brother Cutshaw put the game on the right side of the ledger.


A pitch so wild that it goes through a screen?

It's the kind of play that only could have happened to the Cubs -- and only could have happened in Brooklyn.



The next day, the Cubs lost the rubber game of the series by the same 6-5 score, but in 10 innings. Two losses 24 hours later at Philadelphia dropped the Cubs from third place to fourth, at 55-54-2, and they never were as high as third again.

On Sept. 25, after an 11-inning, 5-4 loss at home to the Phillies, the Cubs found themselves dead last, eighth, at 66-78-3. Then they went 7-2 over the final 8 days to wind up 73-80-3.

The late surge boosted them all the way back up to fourth, at 73-80-3. They led the Pirates (73-81) by half a game; the Cardinals (72-81) by 1; the Reds (71-83) by 2.5 and the last-place Giants (69-83) by 3.5.

The Robins, at 80-72, finished third, 6.5 games ahead of the Cubs and 10 behind the champion Phillies (90-62).

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