EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally ran last year on this date. With baseball on hiatus until the ALCS begins tomorrow, I thought you’d like to read it again. (Lightly edited)
Now that the current Cubs World Series drought is... seven years, I think we can look back at the 108-year drought between 1908 and 2016 with a bit more perspective.
As you know, the 1908 Cubs were the defending World Series champions, having defeated the Tigers with four straight wins after Game 1 in 1907 ended in a 3-3, 12-inning tie.
The Cubs won the 1908 National League pennant by defeating the Giants 4-2 in a makeup game forced by the famous Merkle Game tie September 23.
On they went to the World Series for the second straight year against Detroit. For some odd reason, the Series was scheduled with Game 1 in Detroit, then Games 2, 3 and 4 in Chicago, then the fifth game back in Detroit. The Cubs won Games 1 and 2, lost Game 3 and then defeated the Tigers 3-0 in Game 4, a four-hit shutout thrown by Mordecai Brown.
That set up a possible decisive fifth game in Detroit October 14.
It took three singles, by Johnny Evers, Frank Schulte and Frank Chance, to produce a Cubs run in the first inning. That was all the scoring until the fifth, when a pair of walks and a double by Evers gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Orval Overall, one of the Cubs’ best pitchers in that era, was brilliant. He threw the team’s second straight complete game shutout and retired the side in order in the ninth. The last out was a foul popup, sealing the Cubs’ 2-0 win and their second straight World Series championship.
Overall struck out 10. That’s the Cubs franchise record for a World Series game. The only Cubs pitcher who’s come close to that since is Jake Arrieta, who struck out nine in Game 6 in 2016.
Of the World Series win in 1908, I.E. Sanborn wrote in the Tribune:
Not in the memory of this generation of fans has any team won its honors with greater credit than that which belongs to Frank Chance’s warriors. Not in a thousand years has a team been compelled to fight as hard for its titles as the Chicago team, which won the National league pennant twice inside of five days under the most trying circumstances. But, once assured of the National league’s banner, the rest proved comparatively easy, just as Chance’s men and their admirers have contended. For the same reason undoubtedly today’s final crowd of the year was the smallest that had watched a world’s series battle under modern conditions, the official count showing only a little over 6,000 fans present despite ideal conditions.
To this day, the crowd of 6,210 that day in Detroit is the smallest to ever attend a World Series game. Here’s how the victory was celebrated in the Tribune:
And then there’s this one from the San Francisco Chronicle:
“For a while” turned out to be 108 years.
The Cubs won that World Series 115 years ago today, Wednesday, October 14, 1908.