By Glen Sparks
The Chicago White Stockings played their first game in 1870 and took off two seasons following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The club played as the Colts from 1890-97 and the Orphans from 1898-1902. They have been the Cubs ever since. The franchise has won 16 pennants (10 since 1900) and two World Series. (None since 1908, but you knew that.) Wrigley Field opened in 1914 on the city’s north side. It’s worth a visit or two.
1. This pitcher retired in 1878 with a sparkling won-loss record of 252-65.
2. Before joining the Cubs, he enrolled at the University of California with the intention of becoming a dentist.
3. He shut out he Detroit Tigers in the clinching game of the 1908 World Series.
4. This catcher left the team in 1909 to become a professional pool player.
5. He gave up Babe Ruth’s supposed called-shot home run in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series.
6. This player hit the home run that would go down in history as the Homer in the Gloamin’.
7. He played fast-pitch softball for a church league because his high school did not field a baseball team.
8. This pitcher went 7-19 in his three seasons with the team after being traded for one of baseball’s all-time greats?
9. Name the pitcher who was acquired, along with Adolfo Phillips and John Hernstein, for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl?
10. He once held the National League record for consecutive games played.
1. Al Spalding. The right-hander packed plenty of wins into just six full seasons and a couple of weeks of another. Spalding actually accumulated 204 of his career victories with the Boston Red Stockings (forerunner of the Braves), then went 47-12 with the 1876 White Stockings. He retired early in the 1877 campaign but stayed on as manager and part-owner of the Cubs. He later co-founded the prominent sporting goods company that bears his name.
2. Frank Chance. Chance, a first baseman, did not play organized ball until he enrolled at Cal in the late 1890s. Cubs scouts saw him playing for an independent league team in California in 1897 and signed him to a deal. Chance became a Hall of Famer instead of a dentist. He was one/third of the Tinker to Evers to Chance combination in Chicago.
3. Orval Overall (one of my favorite names). The pitcher from Farmersville, Calif., (He attended Cal just like Chance) compiled a 108-71 life-time mark with Cincinnati and Chicago. He won a game in the 1907 World Series, helping the Cubs to their first title, and two in 1908 against Detroit, including the three-hit shutout in the clincher. The Cubs were the first team to win back-to-back Series.
4. Johnny Kling. One of the great defensive catchers, the Kansas City, Mo., native also played a great game of pool. During exhausting contract disputes, Kling usually threatened to retire from baseball and become a professional billiards player. He made good on his threat in 1909 but returned to the Cubs in 1910.
5. Charlie Root. This episode, played out at Wrigley Field on Oct. 1, 1932, remains a source of mystery and controversy. Ruth did point, grainy film attests to that. But was he pointing to the center-field bleachers, to Root, or to something else? We do know that the score was 4-4 and in the fifth inning of Game 3. Root had one strike against Ruth when the Babe pointed. Root hung a curveball on the next pitch. Ruth crushed the ball to the deepest part of centerfield. The legend of the “called shot” began shortly thereafter. Root was in the midway point of his career at that point. He won 201 games before retiring after the ’41 season. He broke in with the St. Louis Browns in 1923 but won all of his big league games as a Cub.
6. Gabby Hartnett. The Hall of Fame catcher out of Woonsocket, R.I., hit 236 home runs in his career. None is more famous than the one he blasted Sept. 28, 1938, as a player-manager with the Cubs. It was edging toward darkness at lightless Wrigley Field with the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates tied 5-5. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the count against him at 0-2, Harnett connected on a pitch from Mace Brown. The ball headed straight for the bleachers, a Homer in the Gloamin’. The expression was a take-off of a popular play, Roamin in the Gloamin. “Gloamin” is a region term for twilight.
7. Ernie Banks. The man who made “Let’s play two” lettered in football, basketball and track at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas. Booker T. did not offer baseball. Instead, Banks played fast-pitch softball for a local church and baseball for a semipro team in Amarillo. Banks played his entire 19-year career with the Cubs and hit 512 home runs. He was a two-time National League MVP and first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977.
8. Ernie Broglio. Brock for Broglio. You hear it all the time in St. Louis. “Brock for Broglio. HA! HA! HA! What a steal.” And, of course, Lou Brock did steal 888 of his 938 bases as a Cardinal, en route to the Hall of Fame. But, Broglio was a good pitcher in St. Louis. He went 21-9 in 1960 with a 2.74 ERA (league-leading 148 ERA+) and finished 18-8 in 1963 with a 2.99 ERA (119 ERA+). Brock, meanwhile, was still learning the game in Chicago. When the two were traded for one another (There were other players involved, but it was essentially indeed Brock for Broglio), on June 15, 1964, Brock learned fast, helping his new team to a pennant. Broglio, meanwhile, had a sore arm and couldn’t do much for the Cubs. He had gone 70-55 in St. Louis. … Apparently, he is a pretty good sport about the whole “Brock for Broglio. HA! HA! HA!” thing.
9. Ferguson Jenkins. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was originally a Philadelphia Phillie. He played on four other teams in his career, but won 167 of his 284 games with the Cubs. Jenkins put up six straight 20 win seasons in Chicago (1967 to 1972. He also won 25 games for the Texas Rangers in 1974.) In 1971, Fergie earned an N.L. Cy Young Award, going 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA (141 ERA+). He threw more than 300 innings five times in his career and finished in the top six in the Cy Young voting six times. The first person born in Canada to be elected to the Hall of Fame, he made it on the third ballot.
10. Billy Williams. Williams was a part of that Hall of Fame quartet that the Cubs had during much of the 1960s and early ‘70s. Along with Jenkins, Banks and Ron Santo, Williams kept the Cubs in the race but the team could never quite make it over the hump. Williams hit 426 career home runs (392 with the Cubs) and was a six-time All-Star. Twice he was runner-up in the MVP voting. He played in 1,117 straight games from 1962-71, a mark that stood until Steve Garvey broke it. Williams was elected to Cooperstown on the third ballot in 1991.