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Cubs historical sleuthing: West Side Grounds edition

This was a tremendous find.

This ticket was sent to me by BCB reader Killian Tobin, who wrote:

I found this ticket while remodeling my Lincoln Square 1900’s era brick home. It was placed in the door jamb and when we removed the century old door, this ticket popped out.

Sorting out Game Number 55 of the 1911 season was hit or miss! I don’t have much to go on, but I imagine the attendee might have taken the Ravenswood train line (now Metra) downtown to Union Station to head over to catch a game at the West Side Ballpark.

Or, possibly, taken a train on what is now the Chicago L Blue Line (then the Logan Square Branch) to within a block of West Side Grounds. You can see there was such a station on this 1898 system map. Here’s a portion of that map showing where the stop was, right near “Base Ball Grounds,” which was where the Cubs played.

Anyway, this was fairly easy to suss out, thanks to having a photo of both the front and back of the ticket. The schedule of games was listed on the back. The implication was that you could buy a ticket for “Game No. 55” even at the beginning of the season.

There were some postponements in 1911, but all of them had been made up by the time Game No. 55 was played at West Side Grounds, some of them as doubleheaders — but per this ad, doubleheaders in 1911 were separate-admission affairs:

That was typical in those days. The ad you see is for a doubleheader on July 4, 1911, but that’s not when the ticket we have here is from.

Regularly-scheduled games in 1911 began at 3 p.m., as you can see on the ad above. Counting from the beginning of the season and accounting for postponements and makeups of said postponements, Game No. 55 was the afternoon game Sunday, September 3, 1911.

The Cubs in 1911 had just finished a stretch of winning four NL pennants in five years, and were still considered among the best teams in the league. They had inhabited first place off and on for much of the early part of the season, but they began September 3 in second place, 3½ games behind the first-place Giants.

The September 3 doubleheader was against the Cardinals. The Cubs lost the morning game 3-2, but won the afternoon contest, the one our long-ago fan had the pictured ticket for, by a score of 4-2. The Cubs lost the first game of another twin bill the next day, but then went on a six-game winning streak. They would get no closer than a game out of first place and eventually finished second, 7½ games behind the Giants.

Frank “Wildfire” Schulte was the winner of the 1911 NL Chalmers Award, a predecessor of the modern MVP, by batting .300/.384/.534 with 21 home runs (a massive total for the time, leading both leagues), and leading the NL in RBI, SLG, OPS+ and total bases. He is the only player in Cubs franchise history to have 20+ doubles (he had 30), triples (21), home runs (21) and stolen bases (23) in the same season (though Ryne Sandberg came close with 36 doubles, 19 triples, 19 home runs and 32 steals in 1984).

The 1911 Cubs finished 92-62, the eighth straight time they had won 90 or more. They’d do it again in 1912 while finishing a distant third, then not again until 1928.

And that’s a little summary of what our ticket holder from 113 years ago would have been experiencing as a fan of the Chicago Cubs.