Cubs and Memorial Day

Two weeks from today, the Cubs will revive a long-dormant tradition: a Memorial Day doubleheader, at home against the Brewers.

It will be a split doubleheader, but a doubleheader all the same, with Game 1 starting at 1:05 and Game 2 at 7:40.

The second game was added after the teams were rained out on the second day of the season, Friday, April 8.



The Cubs have played 1,835 doubleheaders since 1871.

Their first was on Sept. 2, 1880, at Troy, N.Y., following a rainout the previous day.

Their second, also at Troy, was their first on Memorial Day: May 30, 1882.

That was the first of 77 times that the Cubs have played 2 games on the holiday, 28 at home and 49 on the road.

But the last of those 77 came 46 years ago, on May 31, 1976, when the Cubs won, 7-5, then lost, 4-1, at Philadelphia, in front of a throng of 51,211.



Multiple communities maintain that they held the first Memorial Day observance.

Carbondale, Ill., about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, was the site of a ceremony honoring the Civil War dead on April 29, 1866, less than 13 months after the war had ended.

Historian Mabel Thompson Rauch said she was told about the event by an aunt who was 15 at the time and attended it.

"The success of the occasion did so much toward softening the bitterness remaining from war days that immediately following it plans were discussed for a permanent Memorial Day to be held each year. The 30th of May was tentatively agreed upon. It was more suitable because in the late spring a greater quantity of flowers would be in bloom."

Memorial Day was first observed nationally on May 30, 1868.

New York became the first state to make it an official holiday in 1873. All other states followed suit by 1890.

But it did not become a federal holiday until 1971. When it did, its date was set as the last Monday of May, rather than the traditional May 30.



The Cubs' last Memorial Day doubleheader at home had come the previous year, 1970, against the Padres, who were in just their second season as a franchise.

It was a 2-for-1 doubleheader, on Saturday afternoon, and it attracted a crowd of 37,943.

Ken Holtzman was knocked out of Game 1 after just 2 innings, in which he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and a walk.

Jim Hickman delivered a 3-run homer in the third, then Don Kessinger tied the score with a 2-out RBI triple in the fourth.

But San Diego regained the lead in the fifth, on a double, single and sacrifice fly off reliever Jim Dunegan.

Then the Padres broke the game open in the seventh, scoring 4 runs off Phil Regan. The final score was 11-4.


In the rematch, the Cubs again fell behind, 4-0, midway through the third.

They closed to within 4-3 in the bottom of the inning, on an error, doubles by pitcher Joe Decker and Don Kessinger, and a single by Glenn Beckert.

Ernie Banks tied the game with a homer leading off the fourth.

After the first 2 Cubs were retired in the fifth, Billy Williams doubled, Hickman was walked intentionally and Banks delivered a go-ahead single.

Paul Popovich was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Willie Smith was announced as a pinch hitter for catcher J.C. Martin. When the Padres changed pitchers, Phil Gagliano was sent up instead of Smith. Gagliano singled home 2 runs, making the score 7-4.

Cubs starter Joe Decker was lifted after giving up back-to-back doubles to start the seventh. Regan notched a strikeout, then surrendered a pair of RBI singles that tied the game again.

It stayed 7-7 until 2 out in the bottom of the eighth, when Beckert homered.

Dunegan gave up a walk to the first batter in the ninth. He struck out the second batter looking, then snared a grounder by the third batter and started a 1-6-3 double play that ended the game and earned the Cubs a split for the day.



The Cubs had split their previous Memorial Day doubleheader at home, too, in 1967 against the Braves, winning by 12-5, then losing, 4-1.

Their last sweep at home on the holiday had come 3 years earlier, in 1964, also against the Braves.

First, Ernie Banks homered in a 4-2 win, as Bob Buhl scattered 6 hits, including a homer by Hank Aaron.

Then, Sterling Slaughter pitched a 1-hitter, allowing only a 2-out single in the fourth, as the Cubs won, 2-0. Slaughter scored the only run he needed when he walked in the third, was bunted to second and came home on a 2-out hit by Ron Santo.



Between 1882 and 1900, the Cubs played 16 doubleheaders on Memorial Day, but only 1 at home, on Friday. May 30, 1884, against the Detroit Wolverines.

The Cubs, then known as the White Stockings, had played their home opener only the previous day, winning, 15-5. The Whites had begun the season with a 20-game road trip that took them to 7 different cities, including Providence twice.

The first game of the holiday doubleheader began at 10:45 a.m.; the second, at 3:30 p.m.

In the opener, the Whites allowed 4 runs in the top of the ninth and fell behind, 10-8, then scored 3 times in the bottom to win, 11-10. Attendance was 1,000.

Pitcher George Crosby hit a home run during the decisive rally, the last of 3 homers by the Whites.

They hit 3 more in Game 2 -- all by Ed Williamson, making him the first Cub to do so. He also doubled.

The Whites broke a 2-2 tie with 4 runs in the third and cruised to a 12-2 win, delighting the crowd of 5,000.



The next year, 1885, the Whites were scheduled to play a highly unusual doubleheader on Memorial Day: a morning game at Providence, then an afternoon game at Boston. They lost in the morning, 4-1, but rain postponed the afternoon contest.

Detroit did play at both sites, losing at both by 4-3.

There was no game on the holiday in 1885, because it fell on a Sunday, when baseball was prohibited.

From 1887-96, the Whites played twice on every Memorial Day, doing so twice each at Boston, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and Washington.


After playing a single game at Baltimore in 1897, they played a pair again on the next 13 Memorial Days, from 1898 through 1910.

In 1903, for the first time in 19 years, the doubleheader was at home.

The Cubs made 14 hits in the morning, half by Dick Harley (4) and Davy Jones (3) as they won in the morning, 5-2.

They had only 3 hits in the afternoon game when they came to bat in the eighth, with the score knotted 1. Johnny Kling led off with a double, Harley was hit by a pitch and Jimmy Slagle singled to load the bases. Frank Chance's a sacrifice fly drove home Kling and the Cubs held on to win, 2-1.



The Cubs played Memorial Day doubleheaders at home in consecutive seasons for the first time in 1909-10, losing both games to the Pirates, then splitting with the Cardinals.

They weren't at home for 2 games on back-to-back Memorial Days again until 1945-46, when they split with the Giants, then the Reds.

They never have done it again.

They played doubleheaders on Memorial Day, home or road, for 18 seasons in a row, 1944-61. They played 10 straight in 1927-36.

In fact, from 1901, the start of the Modern Era, through 1967, they played 2 games on Memorial Day in 59 seasons.



During the Modern Era, the Cubs have played on Memorial Day of every season except 5:

1968, when they were rained out at Philadelphia

1984, when they were rained out at home against the Reds

1992, when they were off on Monday after a 12-game road trip that ended in San Diego

1999, when they were off on Monday between 2 series at home

2020, when the pandemic delayed the start of the season until July 24



The Cubs have played 216 total games on Memorial Day.

Their first was a 14-8 win at home against Hartford in 1874, when they were a member of the National Association.

Their first in the National League was a 5-1 win at Boston in 1876, the NL's first season.

In all of their Memorial Day games, beginning in 1871, the Cubs' record is 111-105, a winning percentage of .514 -- just .001 higher than their .513 in every game they have played.

Here are some breakdowns of their Memorial Day games:


Home: 51-40

Road: 60-65

Total: 111-105


Home: 4-0

Road: 18-17

Total.: 22-17


Home: 47-40

Road: 42-48

Total: 89-88


Home: 31-25 (swept 9, split 13, swept in 6)

Road: 47-51 (swept 13, split 21, swept in 15)

Total.: 78-76 (swept 22, split 34, swept in 21)

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