On Wednesday October 14th, 1908 Tigers catcher Boss Schmidt hit a weak grounder in front of the plate which was fielded by Cubs catcher Johnny Kilng and thrown to first baseman Frank Chance. For the second year in a row the Cubs had won the World Series. They had beaten the Detroit Tigers at Bennett Park in Detroit in front of a paid crowd of 6,210. This was the sixth World Series and second time the Cubs had one it the first being in 1907. The Cubs home field was West Side Grounds; Wrigley Field would not be opened for another 6 years. The average salary for Cubs players at the time was $3,500. It cost $0.10 to get into the park and all you could buy to eat was a beer and some peanuts, both were most likely less than $0.50. The mayor of Chicago was Fred A. Busse. The Busse administration was known for its extensive corruption and organized crime, something that seems like it hasn't changed in the past 108 years. The Cubs would not appear in the World Series again until 1945 and they wouldn't win another until this year.
1908 in America was also an election year. William Howard Taft, the president whose legacy lies in the fact that he would eventually get stuck in the White House bath tub and become the fattest man to ever be the commander in chief, would go on to defeat his Democratic opponent William Jennings Bryan. Taft carried 29 out of the at the time 46 states and won 51.6% of the popular vote. The Taft administration would be known as rolling back progressive reform put into place by his predecessor Theodore Roosevelt as well as turning a blind eye to corruption. Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska were not yet states. The United States had not even been yet involved in a world war. The civil rights movement had not yet happened so blacks really weren't part of the big picture in the U.S. Immigrants were still coming into the country the legal way through Ellis and Angel Islands respectively. There was no iPhone or television and radios were still hard to come by. We were also still living in the age of yellow journalism where newspaper writers would publish sensationalist headlines to sell papers (seems like nothing has changed). This was also the first year a ball had dropped in Times Square for the New Year's Eve celebration. Mother's Day was observed for the first time. Automobiles were still hard to come by as horse and buggy or trolley car was the main means of transportation. Henry Ford's Model-T would not come out until September of 1908.
Chicago in 1908 was a thriving industrial city in 1908. A major expansion of industry took place during WWI which attracted many African American men; their population jumped from just under 50,000 in the whole city to over 230,000. This had a great impact on the culture and led to the Chicago Black Renaissance. The 1920's were dominated by gang activity and organized crime led by Al Capone. He and his gangs battled law enforcement fiercely during the Prohibition era. In 1942 physicist Enrico Fermi conducted the world's first controlled nuclear reaction as part of the Manhattan Project. This led to the creation of the atomic bomb. In 1955 Richard J. Daley was elected mayor. Daley's administration definitely had its ups and downs as white middle class families left the city of more suburban areas. This drastically changed many neighborhoods. The tumultuous Democratic National Convention of 1968 was also held there which featured wide spread anti-war protests. The upside of Daley's administration was its major construction projects. This included the Sears Tower which is now known as Willis Tower, University of Illinois at Chicago, McCormick Place, and O'Hare International Airport. It had its first female mayor elected in 1979 in Jane Byrne and its first black mayor elected in 1983 in Harold Washington. The current mayor is Rahm Emanuel.
There were 16 major league baseball teams in 1908. 7 of them no longer exist. Honus Wagner had the highest batting average in baseball which was .354, Tim Jordan of the Brooklyn Superbas led baseball with 12 homeruns, and White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh had 40 wins. There were no playoffs, the teams that finished on top of the 2 leagues played in the World Series. There were also no awards specifically the Cy Young Award. Why? Because Cy Young was still a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
On Wednesday November 2nd, 2016 after 10 innings and a rain delay the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in game 7 of the World Series 8-7 at Progressive Field before a paid crowd of 38,104. The 108 year drought was over. The Cubs had won the world series for the first time since 1908. The average game 7 ticket price cost around $4,300, more than the salary of Cubs star pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown in 1908. Now at the ball park rather than just peanuts and a beer you could get nachos, pizza, pretzels, ice cream, a burger, a hot dog and much more. Fans held up signs saying "Now I can die in Peace!" as the Cubs players rushed to the field to celebrate following the win. 2 days later an estimated 5 million people attended the victory parade in downtown Chicago and rally at Grant Park. This was the 7th largest gathering in U.S. history. This year was the first year the Cubs even appeared in the World Series since 1945.
I myself am a Mets fan and I could definitely identify with Cubs fans longing to win another fall classic or even make it back there. The Cubs had many great teams and made it to the post season many times but always failed to get far. From 1910-1945 the Cubs were defeated 7 times in the World Series. That calculates to every 5th year. Whether it's in the World Series or playoffs the Cubs seem to always have the short end of the stick. In 1929 outfielder Hack Wilson lost 2 fly balls in the sun leading to a 3 run inside the park homerun. In 1932 there was Babe Ruth's famous "called shot."
In 1945 the curse of the Billy Goat was cast upon the Cubs when the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern was asked to leave because his pet goat smelled terribly. He then said: "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more...as long as this goat ain't allowed in there." More recently of course was the crossing of the black cat. This occurred in 1969 on September 9th at Shea Stadium. A black cat crossed in front of Cubs on deck batter Ron Santo. From there on the Mets surged going 18-5 and eventually winning the World Series. The at the time first place Cubs would go 8-12 and blow their lead which was 8 1/2 games in August. 1984 was also a year Cubs fans would like to forget. At the time the NLCS was best of 5. The Cubs would beat the Padres in the first 2 but collapsing in the final 3 leading to Padre victories and NL pennant for the Friars. Hall of Fame reliever Lee Smith would surrender a walk off 3 run homer to Padres first baseman Steve Garvey.
Game 5 was definitely the most heartbreaking. With Rick Sutcliffe pitching, Padres catcher Tim Flannery would hit a routine grounder to first baseman Leon Durham. Durham let the ball go right through his legs to tie the game at 3. The Padres would go on to score 4 in the inning and win the game which gave them the series. Durham claimed the glove was dampened by Gatorade.
1989 gave more bad luck as reliever Les Lancaster would surrender a 2 run game winning homer to Giants' Robby Thompson. The homerun was given up on a 2-0 count in which Lancaster threw a fastball because he "forgot what the count was." The Cubs wouldn't make it to the post season again until 1998 which saw them get swept by the Braves in the NLDS, their first appearance in the new series. 5 years later brought perhaps the greatest baseball Halloween costume ever and a name that became a curse word in Chicago households. It was game 6 of the NLCS, the Cubs were up 3-2 in the series and up 3-0 at Wrigley in the 8th. If they would've won the game they'd be back in the World Series for the first time in 58 years. What happened next was heart breaking. With ace Mark Prior pitching Luis Castillo hit a fly ball down the left field line which was snagged by a fan wearing a hat and ear phones. The fan was identified as Steve Bartman. The ball could've been caught by left fielder Moises Alou who was very visibly angered by the incident. What would've been an out for the Cubs turned into a hit parade for the Marlins. Castillo walked with ball four being a wild pitch which allowed Juan Pierre to advance to 3rd base. Ivan Rodriguez would single, Miguel Cabrera would get on on an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez, Derek Lee would double to tie the game, relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth would intentionally walk Mike Lowell then give up a sac fly to Jeff Conine to give Florida the lead. The cutoff was missed by outfielder Sammy Sosa which allowed Lowell to move to second, Todd Hollandsworth would be intentionally walked to load the bases and finally the game would be broken open by Mike Mordecai's bases clearing double. The Marlins went on to win 8-3 and take the series.
In 2007 they were swept by the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and in 2008 they would also be swept by the Dodgers. In game 1 of the '08 series Ryan Dempster would give up a grand slam to James Loney. The Cubs, who were up 2-0 at the time, would fail to gain a lead for the rest of the series.
With no jumbotron existing at the time in Wrigley Field nobody in the stadium actually knew who he was until viewers at home began calling their friends at the game. Word quickly spread and Bartman was littered with insults and debris. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich said Bartman should join the witness protection program while Florida governor and soon to be 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush offered him asylum in Florida. For the next few days cop cars had to guard Bartman's Chicago home. He later released a statement saying he was "truly sorry" and "got caught up in the heat of the moment." Left fielder Moises Alou has released conflicting statements saying "I wouldn't have caught it anyway" and another a few years later saying "I never said that." Since 2003 Bartman still lives in Chicago but declines any autograph signings, commercial appearances, documentary appearances, or public appearances. He has been offered up to 6 figures but always declines. In 2016 through Cubs spokesman Frank Murtha Bartman congratulated the Cubs on their World Series win. The Bartman seat became a tourist attraction while the ball from that play was detonated in 2004. Many Cubs players eventually came to Bartman's defense saying that it wasn't his fault errors were committed in the following plays.
The differences between 1908 and 2016 are definitely clear in terms of politics, baseball and Chicago itself. One thing that isn't? A Cubs World Series win.