Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Early History of The Chicago Cubs, Baseballs 1st Dynasty

The National League team that plays in Chicago now known as the Cubs is one of the original Major League baseball teams. Before they were the Cubs they were the White Stockings then the Colts and finally the Orphans before finally picking up the nickname cubs because of all their young stars. That name stuck and the team started their second dynasty. Because before they became known as the "lovable losers" this team dominated the league twice. We have recently posted a couple of videos on ChiTownView that show where they played and tells some of their history.

Chicago's baseball history begins in 1870 when The Chicago White Stockings are formed. They begin play the following year in 1871 and do well. So good that with three games left they found themselves tied for first place. Then disaster strikes on Oct. 8 as the Great Chicago Fire rages for three days burning down much of the city. Including Lake Front Park and all the teams uniforms & equipment. They are able to round up the gear they need but finish the season losing two of the three games and finishing in 2nd place.

For the next two years the team didn't play as the whole city plunged into rebuilding following the fire. They came back in 1874 but floundered for the next couple of years as their league, the National Association, came under attack for fixing games. In 1876 Chicago and seven other cities began a new league, The National League, and almost 140 years later it still endures.

The opening season was one of tremendous success for the White Stockings as they won the first pennant with a winning record of 57 - 14 and percentage of  .788 no major league team has ever topped that. The team was led by player/manager Cap Anson one of the games early stars, he was the first ballplayer to get 3,000 hits. Unfortunately he was also an avowed racist who is generally given credit for keeping the Majors for whites only. Another of that championship tams stars was pitcher Albert Spaulding, yes the same Spaulding that started the sporting goods company. His record during that season was 47-12 with a 1.45 ERA!!!!

They played at Lake Front Park until 1884 winning three more pennants before the city decided to take the land back forcing the team to do what a lot of people were doing at the time, go west. Their first west side home was near Halsted and Congress on Chicago's near west side from 1885 to 1891. They continue to be led by Cap Anson who would lead the team until 1897. They were National League champs the first two years at the new park. Including 1885 where they were winners of an early version of the World Series.

The place had it's problems it only held 10,000 people and the park was shaped like a bathtub with the foul lines only 215'. It also shared the space with a bicycle racing track that encircled the already crowded field. One additional note on September 21 1888 three White Stockings players were arrested flirting with Mrs. Seth Blood, the proprietor of a "house" just beyond the wall at old West Side Park. What kind of "house" it was was never clarified but in Chicago at that time vice was king.

Then they have no real home for a couple of years, earning the name orphans, before settling back to the west side in 1893 near Ashland and Congress not far from the old park. Here is where they would develop some exciting new players including the famed combo of Tinkers, Chance & Evans. The Chicago Daily News decides to nickname this young team the Cubs. Than name sticks and in 1903 it becomes official.

By the middle of the decade they were a dynasty at one point winning 538 games out of a possible 765 games. No team has ever done something like that. They were National League champs in 1906,07,08 & 1910 and World Series Champs in 07' and '08. In 1906 they won a record 116 games but would end up being beaten by by crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox. Known as the hitless wonders.The Cubs would continue to play here without much success  until 1915 when they moved. Perhaps they felt they were to close to their upstart rivals the White Sox who were playing not far away.

One more little nugget about the old ball park is that it is where the term "out of left field" came from. As in; the idea was from out of left field meaning it's not a normal or "traditional" idea. The saying began here because beyond the left field wall was an insane asylum and people in the park could hear the moans and babbling of the patients.

 They ended up on the north side at Weegham park  which became Wrigley field in 1925. And although there have been some World Series games played here no World Series winning team have called Wrigley home.

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