History of Chicago-Cleveland Sports Battles Began in 1887

History of Chicago-Cleveland Sports Battles Began in 1887
Preparations being made for Cubs-Indians game two?

The Cubs-Indians World Series is being billed as a battle of two teams that have not won the World Series in a combined 176 years. There is a lot of history between Chicago and Cleveland on the Courts and Fields.

Cleveland's history with Chicago athletes dates to the Golden era of Cleveland sports in the 1940's and 50's. Former Browns Quarterback Otto Graham grew up in Waukegan, former Indians Player-Manager, and Cubs broadcaster Lou Boudreau is from Harvey, Former Cub, White Sox, and Indian Kenny Lofton is from East Chicago, In. Current Indians 2B Jason Kipnis is from Northbrook.

Both cities have a deep history in sports. The Indians are one of the American's League's Charter Franchises with the White Sox and the Cubs are one of the National League's charter franchises.

The Browns history dates to 1946 in the All-American Football Conference (AAFC) and they joined the NFL four years later. The Rams played their first nine seasons in Cleveland from 1937-45. Cleveland also had eight other iterations of professional football teams in the first two decades of American Pro Football.

The first meeting between a Chicago and Cleveland sports team was May 8, 1871, when the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Forest City's 18-10. That was five months to the day before the Great Chicago Fire.

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The Browns history dates to 1946 in the All-American Football Conference and they joined the NFL four years later. The Rams played their first nine seasons in Cleveland from 1937-45. Cleveland also had eight other iterations of professional football teams in the first two decades of American Pro Football.

Chicagoans like to boast that we have the most pain when it comes to sports. In the 52 years between the Browns 1964 NFL Championship and the Cavs title in June, Chicago claimed six NBA titles, three Stanley Cups, one World Series and one Superbowl.

Cleveland's first title was the long-defunct Cleveland Spiders of the National League in 1892. The Indians began play as the Naps beginning in the American League's first season in 1901. Their first World Series was a 5-2 victory (from 1919-22 the series was best of nine) over the then Brooklyn Robins (now Dodgers) in 1920.The Spiders began as the Blues in 1887.

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From 1884-92, the World Series was only played as an exhibition. The Cubs who were then known as the White Stockings played the St. Louis Browns to a 3-3-1 tie in the 1895 World Series. They would play again the next season with the Browns winning four games to two.

Although the Cubs and Indians have combined for 257 seasons of baseball, this will be their first meeting in the World Series. The first battle between Chicago and Cleveland teams that involved the postseason was the 1908 American League Pennant Race. The Tigers won by a half game over the Indians and a 1.5 over the White Sox.

The White Sox were never in first that season. They trailed by 3.5 games on September 17 and had cut the deficit to a half-game on October 5, which was the second to last game of the season. The Indians were also a half game behind Detroit.

The last time the Cubs won the World Series... FITCHBURG DAILY NEWS, Massachusetts, October 15, 1908 newspaper...:

The White Sox had a chance to capture the pennant with a win over the Tigers and a loss by Cleveland. Ties were counted back then. That's why the Tigers won the Pennant by a half game. The first MLB tiebreaker was not until 1946.

The Indians defeated the Red Sox in a 1948 tiebreaker. The Cubs, Tigers and White Sox have all participated in one tiebreaker.

The Bears postseason history dates to 1933 when the defeated the New York Giants 23-21 to win their second NFL Championship and their first of two titles in a row.

Chicago was represented in the AAFC with the Chicago Rockets and for their last season the Hornets. The Rockets/Hornets and Browns never met in the postseason. The Browns joined the NFL with the Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers for the 1950 season. The Browns won all eight meetings by an average of 18.4 points per game.

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The Bears and Browns would come close to meeting in the postseason on numerous occasions. The first of those was in 1950. The Bears finished in a first place tie with the Rams at 9-3 in the National Division, while the Giants and Browns tied in the American at 10-2.

The Bears lost 24-14 to the Rams, while the Browns defeated the Giants 8-3 to advance to the NFL Championship game. The Browns defeated the Rams 30-28 to win the NFL Championship in their first season in the league.

The Bears and Browns got close to meeting each other in the NFL Championship game a few times in the 1950's and '60s. In 1954 and '55 the Browns won Eastern Division titles and the Bears finished second the Western Division. In 1959 both teams finished second and the Browns finished second in the East in 1963 while the Bears were on their way to an NFL Championship.


In the 1980's both the Browns and the Bears had excellent teams. The Bears won Super Bowl XX after the 1985 season. The Browns lost to the Broncos in the 1985, '86 and '89 AFC Championship games. The Bears lost in the NFC Championship in 1988.

The Browns have not won a playoff game since 1989 when Marc Trestman was their Offensive Coordinator. They have made only two playoff appearances since.

The Bears have seven playoff appearances and only five wins since 1990. In the last 25 seasons including this year and assuming the Bears don't make the playoffs, they have just five playoff appearances and three wins.


The Bulls entered the NBA in 1966 and the Cavaliers in 1971.  The Cavaliers were placed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls remained in the West until they and Milwaukee swapped places with San Antonio and Houston for the 1980-81 season.

The Bulls and Cavaliers have resided in the Central Division together since the '80-'81 season. The Bulls have eight Central titles and the Cavs four. Cleveland did not win their first Division title until the 2008-09 season.

It took over 100 years, but Chicago and Cleveland met in the postseason for the first time when the Bulls and Cavs played in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 1988. The third-seeded Bulls ousted the sixth-seeded Cavs three games to two in a best of five series.

It was a significant series win for the Bulls. It was the first playoff series the Bulls won in the Jordan era. They were ousted in the first round of the playoffs the three previous seasons. The win in Game One against Cleveland broke a seven-game Bulls postseason losing streak.

The 1988 playoff matchup was the first of many meetings between the teams during the Jordan era. Jordan became public enemy number in Cleveland (as well as Detroit and New York).

The Bulls upset the Cavs the next season as the six seed on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Game Five was the epic shot by Michael Jordan at the buzzer that gave the Bulls a one-point win and a 3-2 series victory. They also beat the Cavs in 1992. '93 and '94. The Bulls won those five series with a 17-6 record against Cleveland.

The Cavaliers fortunes against the Bulls changed when LeBron James was drafted by the Cavs in 2003. The teams' first postseason meeting in the James era occurred in 2010. The Cavs ousted the Bulls 4-1 in a best of seven first round series.


James would torment the Bulls twice during his five seasons with the Miami Heat. The Heat eliminated the Bulls four games to one in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals and 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

James and the Cavs continued the domination in the 2015 Eastern Conference Semis with a 4-2 series victory. The 2011 series victory came after the Bulls had the NBA's best record in Tom Thibodeau's first season.

There has been a lot of talk about which city and/or which fan base is has been tortured more. Cleveland went 52 years without a major title before the Cavs victory over Golden State to win their first NBA title in June. Chicago won 11 major professional sports titles in the interim.

The Indians, Cavs, and Browns had all gotten close a few times in between but were never able to get over the top. The Cubs and Indians fans bases have both had a lot of heartbreak.

In the 68 years since the Indians last World Series Title, they have had had 29 winning seasons, ten playoff appearances and three World Series Trips. In that same time frame, the Cubs have had 20 winning seasons and eight playoff appearances. Much of the Indians success came mid-late 1990's/early 2000's. They made five straight playoff appearances from 1995-99 and made it six years with a 2001 playoff appearance.

No matter what happens we are going to hear how great the title is, how much the fanbase deserved it, etc. for the winning team. Parts of both fanbases will complain about curses.

The Goat, Bartman, and the Black Cat will continue to be brought up until the Cubs win a World Series. The most renowned curse in Indians lore is when they traded slugger Rocky Colavito after the 1960 season.

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