A Brief History of the Cubs and Athletics

October 4, 1929 (CHICAGO)- Hello there sports fans, Hap Jackson here. So glad you’ve decided to join us here at the Philadelphia Bugle for exclusive coverage of the 1929 World Series between the National League champion CHicago Cubs and American League champion Philadelphia Athletics. Let’s take a look at the history of these squads, starting with Chicago.

CHICAGO CUBS– The Cubs were founded as the White Stockings in 1871, though they didn’t play the next season due to the Great Chicago Fire.  In 1876, they became one of the charter members of the National League. Led by and later owned by Albert Spalding (founder of Spalding Sporting goods), the team was quite successful in the 1880s, and went through several name changes, first the Colts and then the Orphans.

In 1902, Spalding sold the team to Jim Hart, and they became known as the Cubs. Led by Tinkers, Evers and Chance, (Does any schoolboy in America not know the poem about them by heart?) the squad was the bee’s knees, winning 4 pennants and 2 World Series between 1906 and 1910. That includes the 1910 World Series, which they lost to Mack and the A’s, 4 games to 1. Therefore their last World Series win was way back in 1908. Can they end their 21-year drought this year? We’ll soon find out.

Strangely, the Cubs are both owned and managed by Philadelphia natives. The team is owned by William Wrigley, who took over majority ownership in 1921. They are led on the field by Joe McCarthy, who took over management duties in 1926.

PHILADELPHIA A’S– The A’s got their start in 1901 (There were other teams called the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1870s but none was a forerunner of this team). The new American League wanted a team in Philly to compete with the Phillies. Former Pittsburgh Pirate catcher and manager Connie Mack agreed to take over control of the team and purchase 25% of it. He convinced sporting good magnate Ben Shibe to become majority owner.

The team then went about poaching players from the National League, including the highly controversial signing of Nap Lajoie. The battle between the Phillies and the A’s for Lajoie was so acrimonious that he was finally sent packing to Cleveland. Less than 10 years after forming, the team was a dominant force in the majors, winning the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913, and getting upset in the 1914 Series. But after Mack sold all of his star players in 1915, the team tanked harder than any team ever has before, going 43-109 in 1915. They finished last 7 straight years before finally starting to right the ship in the past few years. In 1927, the A’s finished 2nd to the Yankees, and in 1928, they missed a pennant by 2 games. This year, they dominated, and cruised to the pennant, rocking Ruth and the Yankees by 18 games.

1929 Chicago Cubs Starters

Here’s a bit of info on each member of the Cubs starting lineup. Links on their names will go to photos of each player. You can click on the pic above to see larger view. 

CATCHER: The Cubs had a disastrous season behind the plate, as numerous catchers went out with injuries. Zach Taylor will be their starter for game 1, but Mike Gonzalez, Earl Grace, Johnny Schulte, and Gabby Hartnett all played in more than 20 games as well.

FIRST BASE: Charlie Grimm mans the bag at first. “Jolly Cholly” as he’s known actually began his career with the Athletics in 1916 as a 17 year old. Ironically, while he is now playing against a team many consider the best of all time, that 1916 squad was the worst of all time. A .298 hitter, he’s even better known for his defense…and his vaudeville act. He’s a skilled left handed banjo player.

SECOND BASE: Rogers Hornsby may be 33 years old, but he certainly shows no signs of slowing down. Five years ago, in 1924 with the Cardinals, “The Rajah” had one of the most remarkable hitting seasons of all time, batting .424. That’s a record I don’t foresee being broken for some time to come. He and Cobb are the greatest pure hitters in the history of the game. And though he doesn’t have as much power as Ruth, he can still pop that old sphere over the fences, hitting 39 homers and knocking in 149 Runs this year, his first season with the Cubs. The only knock on Hornsby is his attitude, which is why he seems to bounce around the league. But make no mistake…he’s still one of the premiere players in the Bigs, and he’ll have a big impact on this Series.

SHORTSTOP: Considered the clubhouse leader, even at the young age of 23, Woody English is one of the few players on the squad who gets along with Hornsby, and his diplomacy has been vital in keeping the squad on even keel. A contact hitter and an average defensive shortstop, he batted .276 this season.

THIRD BASE: The Cubs have  journeyman Norm McMillan at third, probably the weak link on this team. He is an average hitter (.276 this season) and not particularly good in the field (led the NL in errors this year). His biggest claim to fame is that just over a month ago he hit the shortest home run in MLB history. The Cubs were playing the Reds, and the game was tied at 5 with the bases loaded. Let’s let Norm tell the rest: “I hit a ball that bounded over third base. It bounced foul and into the Cubs’ bullpen and slipped up inside the discarded jacket of relief pitcher Ken Penner, which had been lying on the ground about ten feet behind the base. As it turned out, the ball went up the sleeve of the jacket and while the Reds’ left fielder, third baseman and shortstop were all looking for the ball, we all raced home.”

LEFT FIELD: The Cubs outfield is incredible, as all three outfielders had over 100 RBIs this season, the only time in baseball history that has ever happened.* In left, they have Riggs Stephenson. Riggs is a question mark defensively thanks to a bad shoulder, but there is no questioning his offensive prowess. He put up a .362 average with a .445 OBP, with 17 homers and 110 RBIs.

CENTER FIELD: There are few legends in baseball bigger than Hack Wilson. As sportswriter Shirley Povich once wrote: “He was built along the lines of a beer keg and not unfamiliar with its contents.” Hack has even admitted, “I never played drunk. Hungover, yes, but never drunk.” Hack hits even harder than he parties. This year, he hit .345 with 39 dingers and 159 RBIs.

RIGHT FIELD: Out in left, the Cubs sport the fast, brash, and excellent hitting Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was part of that Pirates team that won the 1925 World Series, so he’s got experience in these big games. He was traded to the Cubs in 1927, and has done a stadnup job, batting .360 this year with 15 Homers and 102 RBIs.

*As of 2012, it still has never happened again.

Al Capone to Listen to Game 3 From Eastern State Penitentiary

The Cubs most notorious fan (above, getting an autograph from Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett) will be in Philadelphia for Game 3 of the Series, but don’t expect him to have front row seats at Shibe. He’ll be listening from his cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, where he’s been locked up since he was convicted of a gun charge in May. According to the Inquirer, a loudspeaker will broadcast the game in the exercise yard, and the prisoners will listen there. Of course, Capone may choose to just listen to the game in his cell. He’s been supplied with a radio in there.

According to Inky wit George Dixon, “A rumor that Capone had inveigled Warden Smith into betting his uniform against a nice new automatic was denied in toto.”


Ed Delahanty Goes Yard 4 Times in One Game

Ed Delahanty is one of my favorite Phillies to ever put on a uniform, as his skill was matched only by his insanity. A good example of the former came on July 13th, 1896. Big Ed and the Phillies faced the Chicago Cubs at the West Side Grounds (above.) This was the ballpark the Cubs would call home from 1893-1915, and was the last home they’d win a championship in (pretty incredible, but the Cubs have never won a World Series since they moved into Wrigley).

The facts about what Ed did are in question. There are some historians who claim he hit all inside the park home runs, while there are others who say that two of them cleared the wall. Nonetheless, there is no argument that he went 5 for 5 that day, with 4 home runs off Cubs pitcher Ned Garvin. He became the 2nd player to ever hit 4 homers in a game. The story goes that after hitting 3 homers, Cubs center fielder Bill Lange called time and backed all the way up to the center field wall, a full 560 feet away from home. It drew a laugh from the crowd, but it didn’t do the Cubs much good. Delahanty hit a gapper and rounded the bases. Of course, this being the Phillies, they still lost the game, 9-8. He would be the only player to hit 4 homers in a losing cause until 1986, when the Braves’ Bob Horner went yard 4 times in an 11-8 loss to the Expos.

PREVIOUSLY: Lou Gehrig hits 4 homers, and almost a 5th, in a game at Shibe Park.



This is the Coolest Photo You Will See All Day

Just happened to stumble across this one while looking at Baker Bowl photos. It was just such an incredible photo I figured I had to share. Number 2 is Dick Bartell of the Phillies, trying to complete an inside the ballpark home run against the Cubs at the baker Bowl in 1932. The Cubs catcher in the shot is Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett. Hartnett tagged out Bartell on the play.

After doing a little research I am fairly certain it is from the September 17th, 1932 game between the two teams. The Phils won that game 9-2. The starting pitcher that day for the Cubs was Charlie Root. 15 days later, he supposedly gave up the Babe’s famous called shot in Game 3 of the World Series. Bartell was a two time All-Star whose badass behavior (he was known as “Rowdy Richard”) got him traded regularly throughout the years.