Chicago Cubs glory of 1945...or not.

Chicago Cubs glory of 1945...or not.

I am one of  a select group of people who was actually alive in 1945 when the Chicago Cubs played in their 10th world series. After all that was only 66 years ago. This generation understands that the Cubs won the series in 1908 against the Detroit Tigers. However, they also claimed the title one year earlier in 1907 in a 5 game series. Not many people remember that.

In case you're wondering,  I was born in 1932. As a gift to my entering our world the Cubbies played in the 1932 World Series against the New York Yankees and of course, you guessed it: they lost it 4 games to 0. So for you die hard fans of our dearly beloved Cubs their world series record is 2 wins and 8 losses for a combined total of 10 appearances in over 100 years. Many people don't remember that either!

I WAS THERE FOR THE 1945 WORLD SERIES. Now as you can imagine the delirious fans of Chicago were still celebrating the end of World War 2 and now we had a shot at the winning the world series! How much could our hearts stand?

Many of the players had enlisted in the Armed Forces and most of them didn't return to baseball.  But, fortunate for the Detroit Tigers the great Hank Greenberg returned from Service.  Greenberg had hit 58 home runs, the closest at that time to tie Babe Ruth. But that's another story for a future blog. I was at the Howland Elementary school at 1616 S.
Spaulding and along with many other students asked our teacher if we could at least hear the game. We didn't have the internet, Ipad, twitter, cell phones, computers and whatever else technology is available today.   It was the radio or newspaper coverage and for that we had to wait until the day after the game.

The Cubs and Detroit were tied at 3 games apiece with the deciding game played on October 10th, 1945 at Wrigley Field. With well over 41,000 screaming fans, the school let us hear our heroes play the 7th game of the World Series. One can only imagine how thrilled we were just to listen to the play by play broadcast and be allowed to cheer at the few great plays of the game.

Slowly but surely it became apparent the Tigers would take the game and the series. Detroit had Hal Neuhauser, one of the greatest pitchers in Tiger history and  he pitched a fabulous game against our hapless Cubs.  History and some of the commentaries of that time thought Charley Grimm, our manager made a tactical mistake by using his best pitcher with very little rest. At the top of the first inning Detroit didn't waste any time, scoring 5 runs. The game was played out to the dreaded end and as teenagers our hearts were broken as Mighty Casey had struck out in Mudville.The Cubs used six pitchers while Newhauser pitched a complete game, not unusual in the time period.

There was a bright spot in that series as Claude Passeau pitched a complete one hitter in game 3. Up to that time only 3 other pitchers achieved that success. It took 25 years for the Cubs to even come close to another pennant. In 1969 they blew their lead to The New York Mets who went on to win the world series. And Lord help us, we lost the 2003 pennant race due to that game changing famous foul ball. To the Florida Marlins, an expansion team no less and they went on to win the World Series. We should get credit for two assists.

And that my friends was the Chicago Cubs then. Maybe next year folks. I've been saying that for way too long.

Memories light the corners of my mind and I hope yours too. Till next time.

Comments

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  • Really enjoyed your first hand account and the peek back at a very different time...well, different except for the high hopes Cubs fans had for their team. Great stuff, Norm.

  • Thanks John, appreciate it. You're right, except for the high hopes. That will never change!

  • You imply, but don't really get into, whether all able bodied men who were eligible for the draft were in the war had anything to do with the Cubs even getting to the WS.

    It also sounds like you went to the same grade school my father did, but he certainly had no interest in the Cubs, and he had 5 years on you.

  • In reply to jack:

    To the best of my memory the 1945 Cubs did not have returning veterans at that time. Most of the veterans started to be discharged in 1946.
    Then, some of the greats of that period reshaped the game. Remember, the old St.Louis Browns won their only WS championship during war time.

  • In reply to Norm:

    I guess you missed my point. From what you indicate above, about the only returning veteran in MLB in Oct. 1945 was Greenberg.

    What I am asking or implying is that if all the able bodied men of MLB were still in the armed forces, it made it that much easier for the Cubs to win their last pennant over softened opposition.

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