After several off season moves this winter made by both the Cubs and White Sox, there is suddenly renewed optimism on both sides of Chicago. Some of the more exuberant fanatics are even wondering if the impossible could happen in 2015. Let me be clear. I am not one of them.
I am however very optimistic that this year will be the start of a great resurgence in Chicago baseball. Eventually possibly even leading to a crosstown World Series.
But it has happened once before. In fact, it was the first intracity matchup in Series history. The year was 1906 and for the most part it has long since been forgotten by everyone but the most zealous baseball historians. So maybe this is a good time to relive one of the greatest upsets ever recorded.
To begin with the Cubs were the monsters of the National League. By the end of June, they had all but sewn up the title. At the close of the regular season they had a record of 116 wins and only 36 defeats. Enough to beat the New York Giants by 20 games and the last place Boston Braves by a whopping 66 and a half.
With Frank Chance at the helm the Cubbies led the N.L. in just about every category. Runs scored (705), fewest runs allowed (381), batting average, slugging and fielding percentages, strikeouts, shutouts, and earned run average.
Over on the south side the White Sox won only 93 games. Three fewer than the second place Giants in the other league. The Sox were known as the "hitless wonders" and relied heavily on their brilliant pitching staff led by future Hall of Famer Ed Walsh.
So the windy city was in an uproar when the two teams came together on October 9th for the Series opener. The Cubs were heavily favored. The Goliath to the White Sox David. Game 1 got started among snow flurries at West Side Grounds, home to the N.L. club.
The Sox took the opener in a pitchers dual between Nick Altrock of the Sox and the Cubs ace Mordecai "three finger" Brown. The final was 2-1 with both teams getting only 4 hits. The only run scored by the Cubs came on a Altrock wild pitch in the sixth inning.
In game two the Cubs bats came alive with 10 hits and an easy 7-1 victory. The White Sox got only 1 hit off winning pitcher Ed Reulbach while Joe Tinker got 3 hits for the winners. Games three and four featured shutouts by each of the teams aces. Walsh winning 3-0 followed quickly by Brown's 1-0 win in game four.
With the series tied at two games a piece game five was set for October 13th at West Side Grounds. It was the game that changed the 1906 World Series. In it the hitless wonders exploded for 12 hits, 8 of them doubles, including 4 doubles by Frank Isbell.
The Sox took the game 8-6 and followed that with a Series clinching 8-3 win in game 6. In that final game Cubs manager Chance may have made an egregious mistake. He decided to send his ace Mordecai Brown to the mound on just one days rest.
Three finger never made it past the second inning. The White Sox torched Brown for 7 runs in an inning and two thirds and the Cubs never recovered from the outburst. Although the Sox won the 1906 World Series while batting only .198, the Cubs were even worse hitting just .196 over the six games.
Now let's hope the White Sox get a chance to defend and the Cubs get a chance for revenge. Soon.
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