Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playing the Field Since 1876

...and unable to win it all since 1908.

(My sincere apologies to the Wrigley Faithful.)

The National League began play in 1876 with eight teams. Over the years, the original teams moved around or went insolvent. Less than 100 years later, this was the only one of those teams still playing in its original city:

Card #464 -- Chicago Cubs Team Card

Their beginnings actually predated the National League. Just as that league was built from the ashes of the collapse of the National Association in 1875,  Chicago's franchise was founded by William Hulbert in 1871. They were on track to win the 1871 pennant when the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the ballpark, incinerated all the team's possessions and kept them from playing again until 1874. So, the team was literally raised from the ashes itself.

In 1876, they were called the Chicago White Stockings. They won the very first pennant that year and were a dynasty in the early years of the game. They went through another dynasty era at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, after their 1908 team won the World Series...well, let's just say time has been frequently cruel to those who have rooted for the team since.

While many of those years have been marked by bad teams, there have been a few times where the team got close enough to win a title for their fans, only to lose in ways that have tested the tremendous size of those fans' hearts and stomachs. In 1969, they were a team of destiny...until another team decided to take that title for themselves. In 1984, a new generation of bleacher bums suffered through a tremendous season that ended in heartbreak (for them; fans of the Padres have much better memories). Then there was 2003.

As of right now, the Cubs still haven't even made it to the World Series since the end of World War Two. Their fans deserve to see them get there, however. While other fans of long-time drought teams like the White Sox and Red Sox celebrated their championship seasons, it went little noticed that the Cubs had been waiting even longer.

This team photo features the 1972 team. They finished with their best record since 1969; however, this time they weren't in the heat of the race, finishing in second but 11 games behind Pittsburgh. They began the season with Leo Durocher as manager but fired him midseason. The team began to systematically dismantle the veterans from the '69 season and the '73 Cubs finished below .500, setting the standard for the club for the rest of the decade and into the next. The Cubs didn't have another winning season until 1984.


  1. I'd hardly say it went little noticed. I had to hear about it nonstop during the 2008 NLDS when the Dodgers played the Cubs. There was active rooting for the Cubs from the TV goofs throughout the series and everyone acted like someone died when L.A. advanced. Nonstop shots of somber Cubs fans.

  2. I have to agree with Night Owl. At this point, all you hear about the Cubs is how they haven't won in over 100 if its a big deal that a team has had a bad century :)

  3. Hey look! A Cubs' team card without floating heads.

  4. yep, the floating heads were definitely bad cards..I can't believe the team did not take a picture at all those years...

  5. @ WrigleyWax...yeah, NOW. Now that the Red Sox faithful have finally gotten their championships and quit griping about how they've been screwed.

    Before 2004, the sighs of the Wrigley faithful were drowned out by a cacophony of blabbering by those over in Fenway. Today, they've focused more on the Cubs now that that's been dealt with. That's all I was saying in my entry.

  6. And we long-suffering Giants fans - who probably suffered more than anybody (trying to start something here) - finally got one, too!

  7. From where I sit, the Cubs had drought coverage equal to the Red Sox for decades before 2004.

  8. Steve, as a Yankee fan, I will readily admit that my view is likely skewed due to having to listen to BoSox fans more often.

    That may be the crux of it. Cubs fans tend to take the streak in stride compared to others.

    And I still hope to see them win it all someday for their own sake...just not against the Yankees.