The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago. The Cubs compete in Major League Baseball as part of the National League Central division. The club plays its home games at Wrigley Field, which is located on Chicago’s North Side. The Cubs are one of two major league teams based in Chicago; the other, the Chicago White Sox, is a member of the American League Central division. The Cubs, first known as the White Stockings, were a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.
Throughout the club’s history, the Cubs have played in a total of 11 World Series. The 1906 Cubs won 116 games, finishing 116–36 and posting a modern-era record winning percentage of before losing the World Series to the Chicago White Sox by four games to two. The Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first major league team to play in three consecutive World Series, and the first to win it twice. Most recently, the Cubs won the 2016 National League Championship Series and 2016 World Series, which ended a 71-year National League pennant drought and a 108-year World Series championship drought, both of which are record droughts in Major League Baseball. The 108-year drought was also the longest such occurrence in all major sports leagues in the United States and Canada. Since the start of divisional play in 1969, the Cubs have appeared in the postseason 11 times through the 2022 season.
The Cubs are known as “the North Siders”, a reference to the location of Wrigley Field within the city of Chicago, and in contrast to the White Sox, whose home field is located on the South Side.
Through 2022, the franchise’s all-time record is 11,161–10,609.
Early club history
1876–1902: A National League
The Cubs began in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings, playing their home games at West Side Grounds.
Six years later, they joined the National League as a charter member. In the runup to their NL debut, owner William Hulbert signed various star players, such as pitcher Albert Spalding and infielders Ross Barnes, Deacon White, and Adrian “Cap” Anson. The White Stockings quickly established themselves as one of the new league’s top teams. Spalding won forty-seven games and Barnes led the league in hitting at.429 as Chicago won the first National League pennant, which at the time was the game’s top prize.
After back-to-back pennants in 1880 and 1881, Hulbert died, and Spalding, who had retired from playing to start Spalding sporting goods, assumed ownership of the club. The White Stockings, with Anson acting as player-manager, captured their third consecutive pennant in 1882, and Anson established himself as the game’s first true superstar. In 1885 and 1886, after winning NL pennants, the White Stockings met the champions of the short-lived American Association in that era’s version of a World Series. Both seasons resulted in matchups with the St. Louis Brown Stockings; the clubs tied in 1885 and St. Louis won in 1886. This was the genesis of what would eventually become one of the greatest rivalries in sports. In all, the Anson-led Chicago Base Ball Club won six National League pennants between 1876 and 1886. By 1890, the team had become known the Chicago Colts, or sometimes “Anson’s Colts”, referring to Cap’s iNational Football Leagueuence within the club. Anson was the first player in history credited with 3,000 career hits. In 1897, after a disappointing record of 59–73 and a ninth-place finish, Anson was released by the club as both a player and manager. His departure after 22 years led local newspaper reporters to refer to the Colts as the “Orphans”.
1902–1920: A Cubs dynasty
In 1902, Spalding, who by this time had revamped the roster to boast what would soon be one of the best teams of the early century, sold the club to Jim Hart. The franchise was nicknamed the Cubs by the Chicago Daily News in 1902; it officially took the name five years later. During this period, which has become known as baseball’s dead-ball era, Cub infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were made famous as a double-play combination by Franklin P. Adams’ poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”. The poem first appeared in the July 18, 1910 edition of the New York Evening Mail. Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown, Jack Taylor, Ed Reulbach, Jack Pfiester, and Orval Overall were several key pitchers for the Cubs during this time period. With Chance acting as player-manager from 1905 to 1912, the Cubs won four pennants and two World Series titles over a five-year span. Although they fell to the “Hitless Wonders” White Sox in the 1906 World Series, the Cubs recorded a record 116 victories and the best winning percentage in Major League history. With mostly the same roster, Chicago won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first Major League club to play three times in the Fall Classic and the first to win it twice. However, the Cubs would not win another World Series until 2016; this remains the longest championship drought in North American professional sports.
The next season, veteran catcher Johnny Kling left the team to become a professional pocket billiards player. Some historians think Kling’s absence was significant enough to prevent the Cubs from also winning a third straight title in 1909, as they finished 6 games out of first place. When Kling returned the next year, the Cubs won the pennant again, but lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1910 World Series.
In 1914, advertising executive Albert Lasker obtained a large block of the club’s shares and before the 1916 season assumed majority ownership of the franchise. Lasker brought in a wealthy partner, Charles Weeghman, the proprietor of a popular chain of lunch counters who had previously owned the Chicago Whales of the short-lived Federal League. As principal owners, the pair moved the club from the West Side Grounds to the much newer Weeghman Park, which had been constructed for the Whales only two years earlier, where they remain to this day. The Cubs responded by winning a pennant in the war-shortened season of 1918, where they played a part in another team’s curse: the Boston Red Sox defeated Grover Cleveland Alexander’s Cubs four games to two in the 1918 World Series, Boston’s last Series championship until 2004.
Beginning in 1916, Bill Wrigley of chewing-gum fame acquired an increasing quantity of stock in the Cubs. By 1921 he was the majority owner, maintaining that status into the 1930s.
Meanwhile, the year 1919 saw the start of the tenure of Bill Veeck, Sr. as team president. Veeck would hold that post throughout the 1920s and into the 30s. The management team of Wrigley and Veeck came to be known as the “double-Bills”.
The Wrigley years
1929–1938: Every three years
Near the end of the first decade of the double-Bills’ guidance, the Cubs won the NL Pennant in 1929 and then achieved the unusual feat of winning a pennant every three years, following up the 1929 flag with league titles in 1932, 1935, and 1938. Unfortunately, their success did not extend to the Fall Classic, as they fell to their AL rivals each time. The ’32 series against the Yankees featured Babe Ruth’s “called shot” at Wrigley Field in game three. There were some historic moments for the Cubs as well; In 1930, Hack Wilson, one of the top home run hitters in the game, had one of the most impressive seasons in Major League Baseball history, hitting 56 home runs and establishing the current runs-batted-in record of 191. That 1930 club, which boasted six eventual hall of fame members established the current team batting average record of.309. In 1935 the Cubs claimed the pennant in thrilling fashion, winning a record 21 games in a row in September. The ’38 club saw Dizzy Dean lead the team’s pitching staff and provided a historic moment when they won a crucial late-season game at Wrigley Field over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a walk-off home run by Gabby Hartnett, which became known in baseball lore as “The Homer in the Gloamin'”.
After the “Double-Bills” died in 1932 and 1933 respectively, P.K. Wrigley, son of Bill Wrigley, took over as majority owner. He was unable to extend his father’s baseball success beyond 1938, and the Cubs slipped into years of mediocrity, although the Wrigley family would retain control of the team until 1981.
1945: “The Curse of the Billy Goat”
The Cubs enjoyed one more pennant at the close of World War II, finishing 98–56. Due to the wartime travel restrictions, the first three games of the 1945 World Series were played in Detroit, where the Cubs won two games, including a one-hitter by Claude Passeau, and the final four were played at Wrigley. The Cubs lost the series, and did not return until the 2016 World Series. After losing the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers, the Cubs finished with a respectable 82–71 record in the following year, but this was only good enough for third place.
In the following two decades, the Cubs played mostly forgettable baseball, finishing among the worst teams in the National League on an almost annual basis. From 1947 to 1966, they only notched one winning season. Longtime infielder-manager Phil Cavarretta, who had been a key player during the 1945 season, was fired during spring training in 1954 after admitting the team was unlikely to finish above fifth place. Although shortstop Ernie Banks would become one of the star players in the league during the next decade, finding help for him proved a difficult task, as quality players such as Hank Sauer were few and far between. This, combined with poor ownership decisions such as the College of Coaches, and the ill-fated trade of future Hall of Fame member Lou Brock to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio, hampered on-field performance.
1969: Fall of ’69
The late-1960s brought hope of a renaissance, with third baseman Ron Santo, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and outfielder Billy Williams joining Banks. After losing a dismal 103 games in …
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