Cubs' first games for charity, Part 1

During their 154-year history, the Cubs have played dozens of games from which all proceeds went to charity.

They faced the White Sox in the Boys' Benefit Game from 1949-72.

They played the Sox in 1931, for unemployment relief; in 1939, to benefit former Sox pitcher Monty Stratton; and in 1945, for war relief.

They also played 2 games at Toronto for Canadian war relief, against the Tigers in 1917 and against Great Lakes Naval Station in 1943. They also met Great Lakes at Davenport, Iowa, in 1943, to benefit the town's Junior Chamber of Commerce.

They played the Cardinals at Auburn, N.Y., about 30 miles from Syracuse, in 1924 to aid the local police department.

In 1919, they played the Braves at Syracuse, N.Y., to help the Syracuse University crew program.

In late September of 1905, they played Boston in a regular-season game at home that raised $3,640.25 for Frank Selee, the Cubs' manager since 1902, who had been forced by illness to resign at the end of July.


The Cubs' first benefit games took place long before 1905, however. They played 3 in 1874 -- the fifth year of the team's existence, its second as a member of the National Association and its first following a 2-year hiatus following the Great Chicago Fire on Oct. 9, 1871.



Page 16 of the Chicago Tribune of Sunday, June 14, 1874, featured at its upper left an account of a 14-11 victory at Baltimore by the Cubs, then known as the White Stockings.

The win improved the Whites' record in league games to 6-5, good for fourth place among the 8 teams, 6.5 games behind the front-running Boston Red Stockings (19-5) but just 1.5 to the rear of the runnerup Philadelphia Athletics (12-8) and third-place New York Mutuals (11-9).


"Sporting matters have been exceedingly dull since the departure of the White Stockings on their Eastern tour," the Tribune wrote further down the page. "They have won two handsome victories from the Baltimores, the only club they have yet encountered, and the score of both games, as published in The Tribune, give hopeful indications that the Whites are in excellent trim both as batters and fielders, and will return home with a record that will place them at least second in the race for the championship."

The games at Baltimore were the first of 13 that the Whites would play on the trip, which would not end until July 1.

Following is the rest of what the Tribune had to say that day. Multiple paragraph breaks have been added for easier reading.


Meanwhile, during the absence of the club, about the only matter that will interest the general base ball reader is a proposition to which certain Aldermen are advocating to exact


when professional games are played. Ald. Cullerton, who has no base ball in his soul, is said to be the originator of this movement, and, while it doubtless is not in the least spiteful on his part, it is very easy to detect a little petty spite on the part of many who support him. The Base Ball Association has issued no season tickets to the [members of] the Common Council this year, and that explains the matter fully.

None of the city governments of the country have even broached the license question thus far, and many of them allow the free use municipal grounds. The Chicago Aldermen, perhaps, cannot understand why the exaction should not be made in this city, and it is a good one.


It has been the intention of the Chicago Club, from the beginning of the season, to devote the proceeds of certain games to different charitable institutions, and not only that, but to give open-air musical entertainments on the grounds the evening after a charitable game is played, and allow the proceeds of an admission fee to the grand stand to be added to those of the game, and donate all to the particular institution selected as a beneficiary on the occasion. The ground outside of the grand stand will be free to the general public.

[Team President] Mr. [Norman] Gassette has already made arrangements for two benefit games and concerts early in the coming month, for the relief of the Home for the Friendless and the Old Ladies' Home, two worthy objects of charity, and the ladies connected with their managements have entered into the project heart and soul, and will undoubtedly make the affairs great successes.

The institutions will be treated alike in this matter, and the friends of the various laudable charities of the city will thus be given an opportunity to do a great deal of genuine good for them, and at the same time amuse themselves.


Now, if an exorbitant yearly license is charged, the management of the Base Ball Association cannot afford to do this charitable work, while on the other hand, the City Treasury will be increased a paltry few dollars. Theatres, circuses, and the like pay license, of course, but have never voluntarily offered to assist any benevolent scheme that may have come under their notice. Hence, no parallel can be drawn between them and the base ball club, as at present managed.

It was not the intention of the Directors of the Base Ball Association to announce the charitable plan above sketched quite so quickly, but the persistency with which the license question has been discussed of late, rendered it necessary, so that no blame can attach to them if they fail to keep their promise with the various Homes and Asylums.


One North Side Alderman -- a marvel of official shrewdness and general capacity, whose chance of re-election is so infinitesimally small that he would fain do something smart before he retires for good to the shades of private life -- has even gone so far as to announced in committee that every game of base ball ought to yield the city $1,000.

This, like every other thing the Alderman alluded to evolves from his inner consciousness, [and] is sheer nonsense, of course, but there are other propositions of the same character that have but little sense in them.

The question as it stands at present is just in this predicament: License -- no charity; no license -- great charity. What will the Council do about it?

[end of story]


It did nothing. At least, there are no stories in the Tribune during the rest of 1874 that include both "base ball" (or "baseball") and "license." But Gassette made certain that the 2 promised benefit games were played.

A week after the story about licensing appeared in the Tribune, the paper published this:



Mr. Gassette has kindly offered to give the proceeds of a game to be played on the 8th of July, between the White Stockings and Franklins, to this charitable institution, and to add thereto whatever money may be derived from the an admission to the grand stand at an open-air concert in the evening.

The liberal offer has been thankfully accepted, and the benevolently disposed will thus be afford an opportunity to amuse themselves at little expense, and, at the same time, contribute to the support of one of the most laudable of all our charities."


The Franklins were a local amateur team. The game took place not only July 8, however, as the Whites were scheduled to host Baltimore that afternoon. It was played a day earlier, Tuesday, July 7, just 24 hours after the Whites had lost to Boston, 12-6.

"A Poor Attendance and an Indifferent Game" said the headline above the Tribune's account of the game, which follows in full:


The Old People's Home, a benevolent institution which, as its name implies, provides a place of rest for those who days of usefulness are past, and who can no longer take care of themselves, was tendered a benefit on the Twenty-third Street ball grounds yesterday afternoon, in the shape of an exhibition game between the White Stockings and the Franklins, the proceeds of which were turned over to the Managers of the Home.

We regret to state that the donation was not as large a one as the charity deserved, or as it would have undoubtedly received if the persons most directly concerned in its success had taken the proper steps to interest the benevolently-inclined of the city in the matter.


The Managers of the institution, naturally enough, were glad to avail themselves of the use of the grounds and the players, so generously tendered, but they were apathetic in bringing the entertainment to the attention of the public. Hence, not more than 150 persons who paid an admission fee were present yesterday afternoon, and these, with one or two exceptions, were men.

The scarcity of the fair sex was so great as to be observed by every one. The ladies are usually foremost in helping along any good work, especially a work of charity, and more particularly any charitable scheme whereby the aged and infirm will be relieved; but they were exceedingly backward in this instance. This was undoubtedly the result of imperfect advertising and general neglect.


In a little while the Home for the Friendless will have a similar benefit, and it promises to be a substantial affair. For days past the Managers of the institution have been actively engaged in enlisting the sympathies of the charitably-disposed people everywhere -- in church, on the street, and at their homes, -- and asking their friends to patronize the game which is to be played in behalf of the Home, and bring others with them.

It would be disheartening if such energy as this did not have a substantial pecuniary reward, but there need be no fears on that score.

The manager of the Chicago Base Ball Association has promised that all the local charities shall be treated alike in the matter of benefits, and therefore it behooves the director of the various institutions not yet served to stir around, and, like their brethren of the Home for the Friendless, get the public interested.


The game yesterday afternoon was a comparatively tame affair, viewed from the standpoint of the base ball critic. It would have been just as entertaining, however, to those not versed in the points and stratagems of the sport as if the two best clubs that were ever organized were contending for supremacy.

Tameness, of course, was to have been expected, as the Franklins, though a first-class amateur nine, are no match for their professional brethren, however much the latter's recent performances may indicate differently.

It is only necessary to print the score of the game, and to remark that were it not for the errors of the unfortunate man [third baseman Levi] Meyerle, who, as a certain prominent stockholder in the Chicago Base Ball Association said yesterday, does more for an opposing club than any four of its own number, it is exceedingly probably that the Franklins would not have secured a run.

Their batting was very weak, and their fielding, though at times brilliant, marred by numerous errors. The professionals in the main fielded and batted well.

[end of story]


The truncated box scored that followed contains something of a surprise. While the Whites won, 16-6, they had trailed, 4-2, after 2 innings and had remained behind until they scored 4 runs in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead.

After the Franklins closed to within 7-5 in their half, the Whites broke the game open by tallying 7 runs in the sixth.

Of the 22 totals runs, only 8 were earned, all by the Whites, who outhit the Franklins, 16-6, the same as the score.


The same teams met in the second benefit game 3 weeks later, on Tuesday, July 28. Once again, the contest was played between 2 other games. Both were against the Brooklyn Atlantics, but only the first, a 14-2 romp on Monday, was a league game.

The Tribune paid scant attention to the philanthropic event, writing only:



yesterday afternoon, between the White Stockings and Franklins, for the benefit of the Home for the Friendless, was not an astonishing success financially or as an exhibition of skill on the part of either club. The score was 34-5 in favor of the professionals, and if any particularly interest had been taken in the play the discrepancy would have been much greater.


TOMORROW: A much more successful charity game aids a former player and manager

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