(a.k.a. Remnants 1898–1901)
The Chicago Cubs
are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Cubs are one of the two remaining charter members of the National League (the other being the Atlanta Braves) and one of two active major league clubs based in Chicago, the other being the Chicago White Sox of the American League. The team is currently owned by a family trust of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.
The Cubs have not won the World Series in 104 years, the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team, and are often referred to as the "Lovable Losers" because of this distinction. They are also known as "The North Siders" because Wrigley Field, their home park since 1916, is located in Chicago's north side Lake View community at 1060 West Addison Street (as opposed to their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox, who play on the city's South Side).
The club played its first games in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings
. This makes the Cubs, along with the Braves who were founded in 1871, the two oldest active teams in major North American sports. There is an argument as to who is actually older because although the Cubs are a full season "older" they lost two seasons to the Great Chicago Fire; thus the Braves have played more seasons. The Cubs are still the longest continuously existing franchise (notwithstanding the two lost seasons), having existed in the same city for their entire history. The Cubs are characterized by their 100+ year World-Series-winning drought (last won in 1908).
Although 1876 is generally recognized as the birth-year of the Cubs franchise, the Chicago club was initially founded in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings and played a single season in a pro-am league called the National Association of Base Ball Players. The White Stockings won that league's championship and followed that effort playing the next five seasons (with the exception of 1872 and 1873, when the club temporarily ceased operations following the Great Chicago Fire) in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players along with the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves). Both of these early leagues were hampered by a variety of ethical issues, such as the "throwing" of games and the league's inability (or unwillingness) to enforce rules and player contracts. Because of these challenges, William Hulbert, the president of the Chicago club, spearheaded the development of the National League, whose inaugural season was 1876.
Hulbert signed multiple star players, such as pitcher Albert Spalding and infielders Ross Barnes, Deacon White, and Adrian "Cap" Anson, to join the team prior to the N.L.'s first season. The White Stockings played their home games at West Side Grounds, and quickly established themselves as one of the new league's top teams. Spalding won 47 games and Barnes led the league in hitting at .429 as Chicago won the first ever National League pennant, which at the time was the game's top prize.
After back-to-back pennants in 1880 and 1881, Hulbert died, and Spalding, who had retired to start Spalding sporting goods, assumed ownership of the club. The White Stockings, with Anson acting as player/manager, captured their third consecutive pennant in 1882, and Anson established himself as the game's first true superstar. In 1885 and '86, after winning N.L. pennants, the White Stockings met the short-lived American Association
champion in that era's version of a World Series. Both seasons resulted in match ups with the St. Louis Brown Stockings, with the clubs tying in 1885 and with St. Louis winning in 1886. This was the genesis of what would eventually become one of the greatest rivalries in sports. In all, the Anson-led Chicago Base Ball Club won six National League pennants between 1876 and 1886. As a result, Chicago's club nickname transitioned, and by 1890 they had become known as the Chicago Colts
, or sometimes "Anson's Colts," referring to Cap's influence within the club. Anson was the first player in history credited with collecting 3,000 career hits. After a disappointing record of 59-73 and a 9th place finish in 1897, Anson was released by the Cubs as both a player and manager. Due to Anson's absence from the club after 22 years, local newspaper reporters started to refer to the Cubs as the "Orphans".
After the 1900 season, the American Base-Ball League
formed as a rival professional league, and incidentally the club's old White Stockings nickname would be adopted by a new American League neighbor to the south.
In 1902, Spalding, who by this time had revamped the roster to boast what would soon be one of the best teams of the early century, sold the club to Jim Hart, and the franchise became known as the Chicago Cubs.
During this period, which has become known as baseball's dead-ball era, Cub infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were made famous as a double-play combination by Franklin P. Adams' poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon
. The poem first appeared in the July 18, 1910 edition of the New York Evening Mail
. Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Jack Taylor, Ed Reulbach, Jack Pfiester, and Orval Overall were several key pitchers for the Cubs during this time period. With Chance acting as player-manager from 1905 to 1912, the Cubs won four pennants and two World Series titles over a five-year span. Although they fell to the "Hitless Wonders" White Sox in the 1906 World Series, the Cubs recorded a record 116 victories and the best winning percentage (.763) in Major League history. With mostly the same roster, Chicago won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first Major League club to play three times in the Fall Classic and the first to win it twice. However, the Cubs have not won a World Series since; this remains the longest championship drought in North American professional sports.
The next season, veteran catcher Johnny Kling left the team to become a professional pocket billiards player. Some historians think Kling's absence was significant enough to prevent the Cubs from also winning a third straight title in 1909, as they finished 6 games out of first place. When Kling returned the next year, the Cubs won the pennant again, but lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1910 World Series.
In 1914, advertising executive Albert Lasker obtained a large block of the club's shares and before the 1916 season assumed majority ownership of the franchise. Lasker brought in a wealthy partner, Charles Weeghman, the proprietor of a popular chain of lunch counters who had previously owned the Chicago Whales of the short-lived Federal League. As principal owners, the pair moved the club from the West Side Grounds to the much newer Weeghman Park, which had been constructed for the Whales only two years earlier. The Cubs responded by winning a pennant in the war-shortened season of 1918, where they played a part in another team's curse: the Boston Red Sox defeated Grover Cleveland Alexander's Cubs four games to two in the 1918 World Series, Boston's last Series championship until 2004.
Beginning in 1916, Bill Wrigley of chewing-gum fame acquired an increasing quantity of stock in the Cubs. By 1921 he was the majority owner, maintaining that status into the 1930s.
Meanwhile, the year 1919 saw the start of the tenure of Bill Veeck, Sr. as team president. Veeck would hold that post throughout the 1920s and into the 30s. The management team of Wrigley and Veeck came to be known as the "double-Bills."
Near the end of the first decade of the double-Bills' guidance, the Cubs won the NL pennant in 1929 and then achieved the unusual feat of winning a pennant every three years, following up the 1929 flag with league titles in 1932, 1935, and 1938. Unfortunately, their success did not extend to the Fall Classic, as they fell to their AL rivals each time. The '32 series against the Yankees featured Babe Ruth's "called shot" at Wrigley Field in Game 3. There were some historic moments for the Cubs as well; In 1930, Hack Wilson, one of the top home run hitters in the game, had one of the most impressive seasons in MLB history, hitting 56 home runs and establishing the current runs-batted-in record of 191. That 1930 club, which boasted six eventual Hall of Famers (Wilson, Gabby Hartnett, Rogers Hornsby, George "High Pockets" Kelly, Kiki Cuyler and manager Joe McCarthy) established the current team batting average record of .309. In 1935 the Cubs claimed the pennant in thrilling fashion, winning a record 21 games in a row in September. The '38 club saw Dizzy Dean lead the team's pitching staff and provided a historic moment when they won a crucial late-season game at Wrigley Field over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a walk-off home run by Gabby Hartnett, which became known in baseball lore as "The Homer in the Gloamin'".
After the "double-Bills" (Wrigley and Veeck) died in 1932 and 1933 respectively, P.K. Wrigley, son of Bill Wrigley, took over as majority owner. He was unable to extend his father's baseball success beyond 1938, and the Cubs slipped into years of mediocrity, although the Wrigley family would retain control of the team until 1981.
The Cubs enjoyed one more pennant at the close of World War II, finishing 98–56. Due to the wartime travel restrictions, the first three games of the 1945 World Series were played in Detroit, where the Cubs won two games, including a one-hitter by Claude Passeau, and the final four were played at Wrigley. In Game 4 of the Series, the Curse of the Billy Goat was allegedly laid upon the Cubs when P.K. Wrigley ejected Billy Sianis, who had come to Game 4 with two box seat tickets, one for him and one for his goat. They paraded around for a few innings, but Wrigley demanded the goat leave the park due to its unpleasant odor. Upon his ejection, Mr. Sianis uttered, "The Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more."
The Cubs lost Game 4, lost the Series, and have not been back since. It has also been said by many that Sianis put a "curse" on the Cubs, apparently preventing the team from playing in the World Series. After losing the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers, the Cubs finished with winning seasons the next two years, but those teams did not enter post-season play.
In the following two decades after Sianis' ill will, the Cubs played mostly forgettable baseball, finishing among the worst teams in the National League on an almost annual basis. Longtime infielder/manager Phil Cavarretta, who had been a key player during the '45 season, was fired during spring training in 1954 after admitting the team was unlikely to finish above fifth place. Although shortstop Ernie Banks would become one of the star players in the league during the next decade, finding help for him proved a difficult task, as quality players such as Hank Sauer were few and far between. This, combined with poor ownership decisions such as the College of Coaches, and the ill-fated trade of future Hall of Famer Lou Brock to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio (who won only 7 games over the next three seasons), hampered on-field performance.
The late-1960s brought hope of a renaissance, with third baseman Ron Santo, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and outfielder Billy Williams joining Banks. After losing a dismal 103 games in 1966, the Cubs brought home consecutive winning records in '67 and '68, marking the first time a Cub team had accomplished that feat in over two decades.
In 1969 the Cubs, managed by Leo Durocher, built a substantial lead in the newly created National League Eastern Division by mid-August. Ken Holtzman pitched a no-hitter on August 19, and the division lead grew to 8 games over the St. Louis Cardinals and by 9 games over the New York Mets. After the game of September 2, the Cubs record was 84-52 with the Mets in second place at 77-55. But then a losing streak began just as a Mets winning streak was beginning. The Cubs lost the final game of a series at Cincinnati, then came home to play the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates (who would finish in third place). After losing the first two games by scores of 9-2 and 13-4, the Cubs led going into the ninth inning. A win would be a positive springboard since the Cubs were to play a crucial series with the Mets the very next day. But Willie Stargell drilled a 2-out, 2-strike pitch from the Cubs' ace reliever, Phil Regan, onto Sheffield Avenue to tie the score in the top of the ninth. The Cubs would lose 7-5 in extra innings.
Burdened by a four-game losing streak, the Cubs traveled to Shea Stadium for a short two-game set. The Mets won both games, and the Cubs left New York with a record of 84-58 just 1⁄2 game in front. Disaster followed in Philadelphia, as a 99 loss Phillies team nonetheless defeated the Cubs twice, to extend Chicago's losing streak to eight games. In a key play in the second game, on September 11, Cubs starter Dick Selma threw a surprise pickoff attempt to third baseman Ron Santo, who was nowhere near the bag or the ball. Selma's throwing error opened the gates to a Phillies rally. After that second Philly loss, the Cubs were 84-60 and the Mets had pulled ahead at 85-57. The Mets would not look back. The Cubs' eight-game losing streak finally ended the next day in St. Louis, but the Mets were in the midst of a ten-game winning streak, and the Cubs, wilting from team fatigue, generally deteriorated in all phases of the game. The Mets (who had lost a record 120 games 7 years earlier), would go on to win the World Series. The Cubs, despite a respectable 92-70 record, would be remembered for having lost a remarkable 17 1⁄2 games in the standings to the Mets in the last quarter of the season.
Following the '69 season, the club posted winning records for the next few seasons, but no playoff action. After the core players of those teams started to move on, the 70s got worse for the team, and they became known as "The Loveable Losers."
In 1977, the team found some life, but ultimately experienced one of its biggest collapses. The Cubs hit a high-water mark on June 28 at 47–22, boasting an game NL East lead, as they were led by Bobby Murcer (27 Hr/89 RBI), and Rick Reuschel (20–10). However, the Philadelphia Phillies cut the lead to two by the All-star break, as the Cubs sat 19 games over .500, but they swooned late in the season, going 20–40 after July 31. The Cubs finished in 4th place at 81–81, while Philadelphia surged, finishing with 101 wins. The following two seasons also saw the Cubs get off to a fast start, as the team rallied to over 10 games above .500 well into both seasons, only to again wear down and play poorly later on, and ultimately settling back to mediocrity. This trait became known as the "June Swoon
." Again, the Cubs' unusually high number of day games is often pointed to as one reason for the team's inconsistent late season play.
P.K. Wrigley died in 1977. The Wrigley family sold the team to the Chicago Tribune in 1981, ending a 65-year family relationship with the Cubs.
After over a dozen more subpar seasons, in 1981 the Cubs hired GM Dallas Green from Philadelphia to turn around the franchise. Green had managed the 1980 Phillies to the World Series title. One of his early GM moves brought in a young Phillies minor-league 3rd baseman named Ryne Sandberg, along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus. The 1983 Cubs had finished 71–91 under Lee Elia, who was fired before the season ended by Green. Green continued the culture of change and overhauled the Cubs roster, front-office and coaching staff prior to 1984. Jim Frey was hired to manage the 1984 Cubs, with Don Zimmer coaching 3rd base and Billy Connors serving as pitching coach.
Green shored up the 1984 roster with a series of transactions. In December, 1983 Scott Sanderson was acquired from Montreal in a three-team deal with San Diego for Carmelo Martinez. Pinch hitter Richie Hebner (.333 BA in 1984) was signed as a free-agent. In spring training, moves continued: LF Gary Matthews and CF Bobby Dernier came from Philadelphia on March 26, for Bill Campbell and a minor leaguer. Reliever Tim Stoddard (10–6 3.82, 7 saves) was acquired the same day for a minor leaguer; veteran pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was released.
The team's commitment to contend was complete when Green made a midseason deal on June 15 to shore up the starting rotation due to injuries to Rick Reuschel (5–5) and Sanderson. The deal brought 1979 NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Rick Sutcliffe from the Cleveland Indians. Iowa Cub Joe Carter and CF Mel Hall were sent to Cleveland for Sutcliffe and back-up C Ron Hassey (.333 with Cubs in 1984). Sutcliffe (5–5 with the Indians) immediately joined Sanderson (8–5 3.14), Eckersley (10–8 3.03), Steve Trout (13–7 3.41) and Dick Ruthven (6–10 5.04) in the starting rotation. Sutcliffe proceeded to go 16–1 for Cubs and capture the Cy Young Award.
The Cubs 1984 starting lineup was very strong. It consisted of LF Matthews (.291 14–82 101 runs 17 SB), C Jody Davis (.256 19–94), RF Keith Moreland (.279 16–80), SS Larry Bowa (.223 10 SB), 1B Leon "Bull" Durham (.279 23–96 16SB), CF Dernier (.278 45 SB), 3B Ron Cey (.240 25–97), Closer Lee Smith(9–7 3.65 33 saves) and 1984 NL MVP and Ryne Sandberg (.314 19–84 114 runs, 19 triples,32 SB).
Reserve players Hebner, Thad Bosley, Henry Cotto, Hassey and Dave Owen produced exciting moments. The bullpen depth of Rich Bordi, George Frazier, Warren Brusstar and Dickie Noles did their job in getting the game to Smith or Stoddard.
At the top of the order, Dernier and Sandberg were exciting, aptly coined "the Daily Double" by Harry Caray. With strong defense – Dernier CF and Sandberg 2B, won the NL Gold Glove- solid pitching and clutch hitting, the Cubs were a well balanced team. Following the "Daily Double," Matthews, Durham, Cey, Moreland and Davis gave the Cubs an order with no gaps to pitch around. Sutcliffe anchored a strong top to bottom rotation and Smith was one of the top closers in the game.
The shift in the Cubs' fortunes was characterized June 23 on the "NBC Saturday Game of the Week" contest against the St. Louis Cardinals. it has since been dubbed simply "The Sandberg Game." With the nation watching and Wrigley Field packed, Sandberg emerged as a superstar with not one, but two game-tying home runs against Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter. With his shots in the 9th and 10th innings Wrigley Field erupted and Sandberg set the stage for a comeback win that cemented the Cubs as the team to beat in the East. No one would catch them, except the Padres in the playoffs.
In early August the Cubs swept the Mets in a 4-game home series that further distanced them from the pack. An infamous Keith Moreland-Ed Lynch fight erupted after Lynch hit Moreland with a pitch, perhaps forgetting Moreland was once a linebacker at the University of Texas. It was the second game of a double header and the Cubs had won the first game in part due to a three run home run by Moreland. After the bench-clearing fight the Cubs won the second game, and the sweep put the Cubs at 68–45.
When the Cubs clinched the Eastern Division with a Sutcliffe complete-game 2-hitter at Pittsburgh on September 24, the franchise had its first title of any kind since 1945. The celebrating crowd outside at Wrigley Field was enormous despite the fact the Cubs were on the road. The Cubs concluded the regular season with a 96–65 record, 6.5 games ahead of the 2nd place Mets.
In 1984, the two leagues, American and National, each had two divisions, East and West. The divisional winners met in a best-of-5 series to advance to the World Series, in a "2–3" format, first two games were played at the home of the team who did not have home field advantage. Then the last three games were played at the home of the team, with home field advantage. Thus the first two games were played at Wrigley Field and the next three at the home of their opponents, San Diego. A common and unfounded myth is that since Wrigley Field did not have lights at that time the National League decided to give the home field advantage to the winner of the NL West. In fact, home field advantage had rotated between the winners of the East and West since 1969 when the league expanded. In even numbered years, the NL West had home field advantage. In odd numbered years, the NL East had home field advantage. Since the NL East winners had had home field advantage in 1983, the NL West winners were entitled to it.
The confusion may stem from the fact that Major League Baseball did decide that, should the Cubs make it to the World Series, the American League winner would have home field advantage unless the Cubs hosted home games at an alternate site since the Cubs home field of Wrigley Field did not yet have lights. Rumor was the Cubs could hold home games across town at Comiskey Park, home of the American League's Chicago White Sox. Rather than hold any games in the cross town rival Sox Park, the Cubs made arrangements with the August A. Busch, owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, to use Busch Stadium in St. Louis as the Cubs "home field" for the World Series. This was approved by Major League Baseball and would have enabled the Cubs to host games 1 and 2, along with games 6 and 7 if necessary. At the time home field advantage was rotated between each league. Odd numbered years the AL had home field advantage. Even numbered years the NL had home field advantage. In the 1982 World Series the St. Louis Cardinals of the NL had home field advantage. In the 1983 World Series the Baltimore Orioles of the AL had home field advantage.
In the NLCS, the Cubs easily won the first two games at Wrigley Field against the San Diego Padres. The Padres were the winners of the Western Division with Steve Garvey, Tony Gwynn, Eric Show, Goose Gossage and Alan Wiggins. With wins of 13–0 and 4–2, the Cubs needed to win only one game of the next three in San Diego to make to the World Series. After being beaten in Game 3 7–1, the Cubs lost Game 4 when Smith, with the game tied 5–5, allowed a game-winning home run to Garvey in the bottom of the ninth inning. In Game 5 the Cubs took a 3–0 lead into the 6th inning, and a 3–2 lead into the seventh with Sutcliffe (who won the Cy Young Award that year) still on the mound. Then, Leon Durham had a sharp grounder go under his glove. This critical error helped the Padres win the game 6–3, with a 4-run 7th inning and keep Chicago out of the 1984 World Series against the Detroit Tigers. The loss ended a spectacular season for the Cubs, one that brought alive a slumbering franchise and made the Cubs relevant for a whole new generation of Cubs fans.
The Padres would be defeated in 5 games by Sparky Anderson's Tigers in the World Series. Baseball experts felt the Cubs would have better represented the National League and would have won at least two World Series games.
The 1985 season brought high hopes. The club started out well, going 35–19 through mid-June, but injuries to Sutcliffe and others in the pitching staff contributed to a 13-game losing streak that pushed the Cubs out of contention.
In 1989, the first full season with night baseball at Wrigley Field, Don Zimmer's Cubs were led by a core group of veterans in Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe and Andre Dawson, who were boosted by a crop of youngsters such as Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddux, Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton, and Rookie of the Year Runner-Up Dwight Smith. The Cubs won the NL East once again that season winning 93 games. This time the Cubs met the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. After splitting the first two games at home, the Cubs headed to the Bay Area, where despite holding a lead at some point in each of the next three games, bullpen meltdowns and managerial blunders ultimately led to three straight losses. The Cubs couldn't overcome the efforts of Will Clark, whose home run off Maddux, just after a managerial visit to the mound, led Maddux to think Clark knew what pitch was coming. Afterward, Maddux would speak into his glove during any mound conversation, beginning what is a norm today. Mark Grace was 11–17 in the series with 8 RBI. Eventually, the Giants lost to "The Bash Brothers
" and the Oakland A's in the famous "Earthquake Series
The '98 season would begin on a somber note with the death of legendary broadcaster Harry Caray. After the retirement of Sandberg and the trade of Dunston, the Cubs had holes to fill and the signing of Henry Rodriguez, known affectionately as "H-Rod"
to bat cleanup provided protection for Sammy Sosa in the lineup, as Rodriguez slugged 31 round-trippers in his first season in Chicago. Kevin Tapani led the club with a career high 19 wins, Rod Beck anchored a strong bullpen and Mark Grace turned in one of his best seasons. The Cubs were swamped by media attention in 1998, and the team's two biggest headliners were Sosa and rookie flamethrower Kerry Wood. Wood's signature performance was one-hitting the Houston Astros, a game in which he tied the major league record of 20 strikeouts in nine innings. His torrid strikeout numbers earned Wood the nickname "Kid K,"
and ultimately earned him the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year award. Sosa caught fire in June, hitting a major league record 20 home runs in the month, and his home run race with Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire transformed the pair into international superstars in a matter of weeks. McGwire finished the season with a new major league record of 70 homeruns, but Sosa's .308 average and 66 homers earned him the National League MVP Award. After a down-to-the-wire Wild Card chase with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago and San Francisco ended the regular season tied, and thus squared off in a one game playoff at Wrigley Field in which third baseman Gary Gaetti hit the eventual game winning homer. The win propelled the Cubs into the postseason once again with a 90–73 regular season tally. Unfortunately, the bats went cold in October, as manager Jim Riggleman's club batted .183 and scored only four runs en route to being swept by Atlanta. On a positive note, the home run chase between Sosa, McGwire and Ken Griffey, Jr. helped professional baseball to bring in a new crop of fans as well as bringing back some fans who had been disillusioned by the 1994 strike. The Cubs retained many players who experienced career years in '98, and after a fast start in 1999, they collapsed again (starting with being swept at the hands of the cross-town White Sox in mid-June) and finished in the bottom of the division for the next two seasons.
Despite losing fan favorite Grace to free agency, and the lack of production from newcomer Todd Hundley, skipper Don Baylor's Cubs put together a good season in 2001. The season started with Mack Newton being brought in to preach "positive thinking." One of the biggest stories of the season transpired as the club made a midseason deal for Fred McGriff, which was drawn out for nearly a month as McGriff debated waiving his no-trade clause, as the Cubs led the wild card race by 2.5 games in early September. That run died when Preston Wilson hit a three run walk off homer off of closer Tom "Flash" Gordon, which halted the team's momentum. The team was unable to make another serious charge, and finished at 88–74, five games behind both Houston and St. Louis, who tied for first. Sosa had perhaps his finest season and Jon Lieber led the staff with a 20 win season.
The Cubs had high expectations in 2002, but the squad played poorly. On July 5, 2002 the Cubs promoted assistant general manager and player personnel director Jim Hendry to the General Manager position. The club responded by hiring Dusty Baker and by making some major moves in '03. Most notably, they traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Kenny Lofton and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and rode dominant pitching, led by Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, as the Cubs led the division down the stretch.
Chicago halted St. Louis' run to the playoffs by taking 4 of 5 games from the Cardinals at Wrigley Field in early September, after which the hapless Cubs finally won their first division title in 14 years. They then went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves in a dramatic five-game Division Series, the franchise's first postseason series win since beating the Detroit Tigers in the 1908 World Series.
After losing an extra-inning game in Game 1, the Cubs rallied and took a 3 games to 1 lead over the Wild Card Florida Marlins in the NLCS. Florida shut the Cubs out in Game 5, but young pitcher Mark Prior led the Cubs in Game 6 as they took a 3–0 lead into the 8th inning and it was at this point when a now-infamous incident took place. Several spectators attempted to catch a foul ball off the bat of Luis Castillo. A Chicago Cubs fan by the name of Steve Bartman, of Northbrook, IL, reached for the ball and deflected it away from the glove of Moisés Alou for the second out of the 8th inning. Alou reacted angrily toward the stands, and after the game stated that he would have caught the ball. Alou at one point recanted, saying he would not have been able to make the play, but later said this was just an attempt to make Bartman feel better and believing the whole incident should be forgotten. Interference was not called on the play, as the ball was ruled to be on the spectator side of the wall. Castillo was eventually walked by Prior. Two batters later, and to the horror of the packed stadium, Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez misplayed an inning ending double play, loading the bases and leading to eight Florida runs and a Marlin victory. Despite sending Kerry Wood to the mound and holding a lead twice, the Cubs ultimately dropped Game 7, and failed to reach the World Series.
In 2004, the Cubs were a consensus pick by most media outlets to win the World Series. The offseason acquisition of Derek Lee (who was acquired in a trade with Florida for Hee-seop Choi) and the return of Greg Maddux only bolstered these expectation. Despite a mid-season deal for Nomar Garciaparra, misfortune struck the Cubs again. They led the Wild Card by 1.5 games over San Francisco and Houston on September 25, and both of those teams lost that day, giving the Cubs a chance at increasing the lead to a commanding 2.5 games with only eight games remaining in the season, but reliever LaTroy Hawkins blew a save to the Mets, and the Cubs lost the game in extra innings, a defeat that seemingly deflated the team, as they proceeded to drop 6 of their last 8 games as the Astros won the Wild Card. Despite the fact that the Cubs had won 89 games, this fallout was decidedly unlovable, as the Cubs traded superstar Sammy Sosa after he had left the season's final game early and then lied about it publicly. Already a controversial figure in the clubhouse after his corked-bat incident, Sammy's actions alienated much of his once strong fan base as well as the few teammates still on good terms with him, (many teammates had tired of Sosa's playing of loud salsa music in the locker room)and possibly tarnished his place in Cubs' lore for years to come. The disappointing season also saw fans start to become frustrated with the constant injuries to ace pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Additionally, the '04 season led to the departure of popular commentator Steve Stone, who had become increasingly critical of management during broadcasts and was verbally attacked by reliever Kent Mercker. Things were no better in 2005, despite a career year from first baseman Derrek Lee and the emergence of closer Ryan Dempster. The club struggled and suffered more key injuries, only managing to win 79 games after being picked by many to be a serious contender for the N.L. pennant. In 2006, bottom fell out as the Cubs finished 66–96, last in the NL Central.
After finishing last in the N.L. Central with 66 wins in 2006, the Cubs re-tooled and went from "worst to first" in 2007. In the offseason they signed Alfonso Soriano to the richest contract in Cubs history at 8 years for $136 million, and replaced unpopular skipper Dusty Baker with fiery veteran manager Lou Piniella. After a rough start, which included a brawl between Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs overcame the Milwaukee Brewers, who had led the division for most of the season, with winning streaks in June and July, coupled with a pair of dramatic, late-inning wins against the Reds, and ultimately clinched the NL Central with a record of 85–77. They met Arizona in the NLDS, but controversy followed as Piniella, in a move that has since come under scrutiny, pulled Carlos Zambrano after the sixth inning of a pitcher's duel with D-Backs ace Brandon Webb, to "....save Zambrano for (a potential) Game 4." The Cubs, however, were unable to come through, losing the first game and eventually stranding over 30 baserunners in a 3-game Arizona sweep.
The Tribune company, in financial distress, was acquired by real-estate mogul Sam Zell in December 2007. This acquisition included the Cubs. However, Zell did not take an active part in running the baseball franchise, instead concentrating on putting together a deal to sell it. For that reason, the 2008 season may be regarded as the last hurrah of the Tribune years. New management had not yet had an impact on the team in 2008. Lou Piniella remained as the on-field manager.
The Cubs successfully defended their National League Central title in 2008, going to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1906–08. The offseason was dominated by three months of unsuccessful trade talks with the Orioles involving 2B Brian Roberts, as well as the signing of Chunichi Dragons star Kosuke Fukudome. The team recorded their 10,000th win in April, while establishing an early division lead. Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds were added early on and Rich Harden was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in early July. The Cubs headed into the All-Star break with the N.L.'s best record, and tied the league record with eight representatives to the All-Star game, including catcher Geovany Soto, who was named Rookie of the Year.The Cubs took control of the division by sweeping a four game series in Milwaukee. On September 14, in a game moved to Miller Park due to Hurricane Ike, Zambrano pitched a no-hitter against the Astros, and six days later the team clinched by beating St. Louis at Wrigley. The club ended the season with a 97–64 record and met Los Angeles in the NLDS. The heavily favored Cubs took an early lead in Game 1, but James Loney's grand slam off Ryan Dempster changed the series' momentum. Chicago committed numerous critical errors and were outscored 20–6 in a Dodger sweep, which provided yet another sudden and stunning ending to what had once been looked at as a season of destiny.
The Ricketts family acquired a majority interest in the Cubs in 2009, ending the Tribune years. Apparently handcuffed by the Tribune's bankruptcy and the sale of the club to the Ricketts family, the Cubs' quest for a NL Central 3-peat started with notice that there would be less invested into contracts than in previous years. Chicago engaged St. Louis in a see-saw battle for first place into August 2009, but the Cardinals played to a torrid 20–6 pace that month, designating their rivals to battle in the Wild Card race, from which they were eliminated in the season's final week. The Cubs were plagued by injuries in 2009, and were only able to field their Opening Day starting lineup three times the entire season. Third baseman Aramis Ramírez injured his throwing shoulder in an early May game against the Milwaukee Brewers, sidelining him until early July and forcing journeyman players like Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles into more prominent roles. Additionally, key players like Derrek Lee (who still managed to hit .306 with 35 HR and 111 RBI that season), Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto also nursed nagging injuries. The Cubs posted a winning record (83–78) for the third consecutive season, the first time the club had done so since 1972, and a new era of ownership under the Ricketts' family was approved by MLB owners in early October.
Rookie Starlin Castro debuted in early May as the starting shortstop. However, the club played poorly in the early season, finding themselves 10 games under .500 at the end of June. In addition, long-time ace Carlos Zambrano was pulled from a game against the White Sox on June 25 after a tirade and shoving match with Derrek Lee, and was suspended indefinitely by Jim Hendry, who called the conduct "unacceptable." On August 22, Lou Piniella, who had already announced his retirement at the end of the season, announced that he would leave the Cubs prematurely to take care of his sick mother. Mike Quade took over as the interim manager for the final 37 games of the year. Despite being well out of playoff contention the Cubs went 24–13 under Quade, the best record in baseball during that 37 game stretch, earning Quade to have the interim tag removed on October 19.
On December 3, Cubs broadcaster and former third baseman, Ron Santo, died due to complications from bladder cancer and diabetes. He spent 13 seasons as a player with the Cubs, and at the time of his death was regarded as one of the greatest players not in the Hall of Fame. He has since been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Despite trading for pitcher Matt Garza and signing free-agent slugger Carlos Pena, the Cubs finished the 2011 season 20 games under .500 with a record of 71-91. Weeks after the season came to an end, the club was rejuvenated in the form of a new philosophy, as owner Tom Ricketts signed Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox, naming him club President and giving him a five-year contract worth over $18M, and subsequently discharged the GM Jim Hendry manager Mike Quade. Epstein, a proponent of sabremetrics and one of the architects of two world series titles in Boston brought along Jed Hoyer to fill the role of GM and hired Dale Sveum as manager. Although the team had a dismal 2012 season, losing 101 games (the worst record since 1966) it was largely expected. The youth movement ushered in by Epstein and Hoyer began as longtime fan favorite Kerry Wood retired in May, followed by Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto being traded to Texas at the All-Star break for a group of minor league prospects headlined by Christian Villanueva. The development of Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Brett Jackson and pitcher Jeff Samardzija as well as the replenishing of the minor-league system with prospects such as Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler became the primary focus of the season, a philosophy which the new management said would carry over at least through the 2013 season. The club also made a market savvy move in transitioning its long running single-A affiliation with the Peoria Chiefs to one with the nearby Kane County Cougars]
60-day disabled list
25 active, 15 inactive
7- or 15-day disabled list
† Suspended list
# Personal leave
updated July 26, 2013
→ All MLB rosters
On September 23, 1908, the Cubs and New York Giants were involved in a tight pennant race. The two clubs were tied in the bottom of the ninth inning at the Polo Grounds, and N.Y. had runners on first and third and two outs when Al Bridwell singled, scoring Moose McCormick from third with the Giants' apparent winning run, but the runner on first base, rookie Fred Merkle, left the field without touching second base. As fans swarmed the field, Cub infielder Johnny Evers retrieved the ball and touched second. Since there were two outs, a forceout was called at second base, ending the inning and the game. Because of the tie the Giants and Cubs ended up tied for first place. The Giants lost the ensuing one-game playoff and the Cubs went on to the World Series.
Slugger Hack Wilson had a combative streak and frequently initiated fights with opposing players and fans. On June 22, 1928, a riot broke out in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field against the St. Louis Cardinals when Wilson jumped into the box seats to attack a heckling fan. An estimated 5,000 spectators swarmed the field before police could separate the combatants and restore order. The fan sued Wilson for $20,000, but a jury ruled in Wilson's favor.
Hack Wilson set a record of 56 home-runs and 190 runs-batted-in in 1930, breaking Lou Gehrig's MLB record of 176 RBI. (In 1999, a long-lost extra RBI mistakenly credited to Charlie Grimm had been found by Cooperstown researcher Cliff Kachline and verified by historian Jerome Holtzman, increasing the record number to 191.) As of 2013 the record still stands, with no serious threats coming since Gehrig (184) and Hank Greenberg (183) in the same era. The closest anyone has come to the mark in the last 75 years was Manny Ramirez's 165 RBI in 1999. In addition to the RBI record, Wilson 56 home-runs stood as the National League record until 1998, when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire hit 66 and 70, respectively. Wilson was named "Most Useful" player that year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, as the official N.L. Most Valuable Player Award was not awarded until the next season.
On September 28, 1938, with the Cubs and Pirates tied at 5, Gabby Hartnett stepped to the plate in a lightless Wrigley Field that was gradually being overcome by darkness and visibility was becoming difficult. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the umpires ready to end the game, Hartnett launched Pirate hurler Mace Brown's offering into the gloom and haze. This would be remembered as his "Homer in the Gloamin.
" It was ranked by ESPN as the 47th greatest home run of all time.
On April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium, father-and-son protestors ran into the outfield and tried to set fire to a U.S. flag. When Cubs outfielder Rick Monday noticed the flag on the ground and the man and boy fumbling with matches and lighter fluid, he dashed over and snatched the flag to thunderous applause. When he came up to bat in the next half-inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the stadium titantron flashed the message, "RICK MONDAY... YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY..." Monday later said, "If you're going to burn the flag, don't do it around me. I've been to too many veterans' hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it."
On June 23, 1984, Chicago trailed St. Louis 9–8 in the bottom of the ninth on NBC's Game of the Week when Ryne Sandberg, known mostly for his glove, slugged a game-tying home run off ace closer Bruce Sutter. Despite this, the Cardinals scored two runs in the top of the tenth. Sandberg came up again facing Sutter with one man on base, and hit yet another game tying home run, and Ryno
became a household name. The Cubs won what has become known as "The Sandberg Game
" in the 11th inning.
In June, 1998 Sammy Sosa exploded into the pursuit of Roger Maris' home run record. Sosa had 13 home runs entering the month, representing less than half of Mark McGwire's total. Sosa had his first of four multi-home run games that month on June 1, and went on to break Rudy York's record with 20 home runs in the month, a record that still stands. By the end of his historic month, the outfielder's 33 home runs tied him with Ken Griffey, Jr. and left him only four behind McGwire's 37. Sosa finished with 66 and won the NL MVP Award.
On April 23, 2008, against the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs recorded the 10,000th regular-season win in their franchise's history dating back to the beginning of the National League in 1876. The Cubs reached the milestone with an overall National League record of 10,000 wins and 9,465 losses. Chicago is only the second club in Major League Baseball history to attain this milestone, the first having been the San Francisco Giants in mid-season 2005. The Cubs, however, hold the mark for victories for a team in a single city. The Chicago club's 77–77 record in the National Association (1871, 1874–1875) is not included in MLB record keeping. Post-season series are also not included in the totals. To honor the milestone, the Cubs flew an extra white flag displaying "10,000" in blue, along with the customary "W" flag.
In only his third career start, Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters against Houston on May 6, 1998. This is the franchise record and tied for the Major League record. The game is often considered the most dominant pitching performance of all time. Wood hit one batter, Craig Biggio, and allowed one hit, a scratch single by Ricky Gutiérrez off third baseman Kevin Orie's glove. The play was nearly scored an error, which would have given Wood a no-hitter.
The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series championship since 1908, and have not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945, although between their postseason appearance in 1984 and their most recent in 2008, they have made the postseason six times. It is the longest title drought in all four of the major American professional sports leagues, which includes the NFL, NBA, NHL, as well as Major League Baseball. In fact, the Cubs' last World Series title occurred before those other three leagues even existed, and even the Cubs' last World Series appearance predates the founding of the NBA. The much publicized drought was concurrent to championship droughts by the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, who both had over 80 years between championships. It is this unfortunate distinction that has led to the club often being known as "The Lovable Losers." The team was one win away from breaking what is often called "The Curse of the Billy Goat" in 1984 and 2003, in which ironically both runs ended due to errors by Leon Durham and Alex S. Gonzalez, respectively.
On May 11, 2000, Glenallen Hill, facing Brewers starter Steve Woodard, became the first, and thus far only player, to hit a pitched ball onto the roof of a five-story residential building across Waveland Ave, beyond Wrigley Field's left field wall. The shot was estimated at well over 500 feet (150 m), but the Cubs fell to Milwaukee 12–8. No batted ball has ever hit the center field scoreboard, although the original "Slammin' Sammy", golfer Sam Snead, hit it with a golf ball in an exhibition in the 1950s. In 1948, Bill Nicholson barely missed the scoreboard when he launched a home run ball onto Sheffield Avenue and in 1959, Roberto Clemente came even closer with a home run ball hit onto Waveland Avenue. In 2001, a Sammy Sosa shot landed across Waveland and bounced a block down Kenmore Avenue. Dave Kingman hit a shot in 1978 that hit the third porch roof on the east side of Kenmore, estimated at 555 feet (169 m), and is regarded as the longest home run in Wrigley Field history.
Grover Cleveland Alexander
The Chicago Cubs retired numbers are commemorated on pinstriped flags flying from the foul poles at Wrigley Field, with the exception of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers player whose number 42 was retired for all clubs. The first retired number flag, Ernie Banks' number 14, was raised on the left field pole, and they have alternated since then. 14, 10 and 31 (Jenkins) fly on the left field pole; and 26, 23 and 31 (Maddux) fly on the right field pole.
Before signing a developmental agreement with the Kane County Cougars in 2012, the Cubs had a Class A minor league affiliation on two occasions with the Peoria Chiefs (1985-1995 and 2004-2012). Ryne Sandberg managed the Chiefs from 2006-2010. In the period between those associations with the Chiefs the club had affiliations with the Dayton Dragons and Lansing Lugnuts. The Lugnuts were often affectionately referred to by Chip Caray as "Steve Stone's favorite team." The 2007 developmental contract with the Tennessee Smokies was preceded by Double A affiliations with the Orlando Cubs and West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.
The Cubs spring training facility is located in Mesa, Arizona, where they play in the Cactus League. The club plays its games at HoHoKam Park(1979–2013), Dwight Patterson Field. "HoHoKam" is literally translated from Native American as "those who vanished." The park seats just under 13,567, and the Cubs annually sell out most of their games both at home and on the road. The Northsiders have called Mesa their spring home for most seasons since 1952. In addition to Mesa, the club has held spring training in Champaign, Illinois (1901–02, 1906); Los Angeles (1903–04, 1948–1949), Santa Monica, California (1905); New Orleans (1907, 1911–1912); French Lick, Indiana. (1908, 1943-1945); Hot Springs, Arkansas (1909–1910); Tampa (1913–1916); Pasadena, Cal. (1917–1921); Santa Catalina Island, California (1922–1942, 1946–1947, 1950–1951); Rendezvous Park in Mesa (1952–1965); Long Beach, California (1966); and Scottsdale, Arizona (1967–1978).
The curious location on Catalina Island stemmed from Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr.'s then-majority interest in the island in 1919. Wrigley constructed a ballpark on the island to house the Cubs in spring training: it was built to the same dimensions as Wrigley Field. (The ballpark is long gone, but a clubhouse built by Wrigley to house the Cubs exists as the Catalina County Club.) However by 1951 the team chose to leave Catalina Island and spring training was shifted to Mesa, Arizona. The Cubs' 30-year association with Catalina is chronicled in the book, The Cubs on Catalina,
by Jim Vitti . . . which was named International 'Book of the Year' by The Sporting News
The current location in Mesa is actually the second HoHoKam Park; the first was built in 1976 as the spring-training home of the Oakland Athletics who left the park in 1979. Apart from HoHoKam Park the Cubs also have another Mesa training facility called Fitch Park, this complex provides 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of team facilities, including major league clubhouse, four practice fields, one practice infield, enclosed batting tunnels, batting cages, a maintenance facility, and administrative offices for the Cubs.
After considering relocating to Grapefruit League in Naples, Florida the Cubs reached an agreement with the City of Mesa to build a new spring training complex referred as Wrigleyville West near Mesa Riverview. The citizens of Mesa voted largely in favor of a 2010 Proposition 420 to fund construction for the facility. The complex is set to be ready for 2014 Spring Training.
The Cubs' flagship radio station is WGN/720 AM. The Chicago Cubs Radio Network consists of 45 stations and covers at least eleven states. WGN Radio is owned and operated by Tribune Company. With the recent end of the Pittsburgh Pirates' run on KDKA, this may now be the longest team-to-station relationship in MLB.
Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland host Cubs radio broadcasts WGN Radio. Prior to 2011, Hughes and Ron Santo had a memorable run as partners on WGN Radio, known as The Pat and Ron Show, which began in 1990 and the show ended with Santo's death on December 3, 2010.
The club also produces its own print media; the Cubs' official magazine Vineline
, which has 12 annual issues, is in its third decade, and spotlights players and events involving the club. The club also publishes a traditional media guide.
Cubs telecasts are locally aired on three different outlets: Over broadcast television via the WGN television outlets (both the local station on Channel 9 and the superstation nationally, produced through the station's WGN Sports department), Weigel Broadcasting's WCIU-TV (Channel 26.1), also produced by WGN Sports, with WCIU games airing over a statewide network of broadcast stations known as "CubsNet", and on cable television over CSN Chicago (of which the Ricketts family owns a 20% interest), with some games, mainly on Wednesday evenings, airing over the supplemental CSN+ channel. Len Kasper has been the Cubs' television play-by-play announcer since 2005 and was joined by Jim Deshaies in 2013. Bob Brenly, Thom Brennaman, Chip Caray, Dave Otto, and Joe Carter also spent time broadcasting from the Cubs booth since the death of Harry Caray in 1998. have announced the team's games on television.
Jack Brickhouse manned the Cubs radio and especially the TV booth for parts of five decades, the 34-season span from 1948 to 1981. He covered the games with a level of enthusiasm that often seemed unjustified by the team's poor performance on the field for many of those years. His trademark call "Hey Hey!"
always followed a home run. That expression is spelled out in large letters vertically on both foul pole screens at Wrigley Field. "Whoo-boy!" and "Wheeee!" and "Oh, brother!" were among his other pet expressions. When he approached retirement age, he personally recommended his successor.
Harry Caray's stamp on the team is perhaps even deeper than that of Brickhouse, although his 17-year tenure, from 1982 to 1997, was half as long. First, Caray had already become a well-known Chicago figure by broadcasting White Sox games for a decade, after having been a St Louis Cardinals icon for 25 years. Caray also had the benefit of being in the booth during the NL East title run in 1984, which was widely seen due to WGN's status as a cable-TV superstation. His trademark call of "Holy Cow!"
and his enthusiastic singing of "Take me out to the ballgame
" during the 7th inning stretch (as he had done with the White Sox) made Caray a fan favorite both locally and nationally. Caray had lively discussions with commentator Steve Stone, who was hand-picked by Harry himself, and producer Arne Harris. Caray often playfully quarreled with Stone over Stone's cigar and why Stone was single, while Stone would counter with poking fun at Harry being "under the influence." Stone disclosed in his book "Where's Harry
" that most of this "arguing" was staged, and usually a ploy developed by Harry himself to add flavor to the broadcast. The Cubs still have a "guest conductor," usually a celebrity, lead the crowd in singing "Take me out to the ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch to honor Caray's memory.
Al Spalding, who also owned Spalding sporting goods, played for the team for two seasons under club founder William Hulbert. After Hulbert's death Spalding owned the club for twenty one years, after which the Cubs were purchased by Albert Lasker and Charles Weeghman. That pair were followed by the Wrigley family, owners of Wrigley's chewing gum. In 1981, after 6 decades under the Wrigley family, the Cubs were purchased by Tribune Company for $20,500,000. Tribune, which also owned the Chicago Tribune
, Los Angeles Times
, WGN Television
, WGN Radio
and many other media outlets, controlled the club until December 2007, when Sam Zell completed his purchase of the entire Tribune organization and announced his intention to sell the baseball team. After a nearly two-year process which involved potential buyers such as Mark Cuban and a group led by Hank Aaron, a family trust of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts won the bidding process as the 2009 season came to a close. Ultimately, the sale was unanimously approved by MLB owners and the Ricketts family took control on October 27, 2009.
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon,"
also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance"
after its refrain, is a 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The poem is presented as a single, rueful stanza from the point of view of a New York Giants fan seeing the talented Chicago Cubs infield of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance complete a double play. The trio began playing together with the Cubs in 1902, and formed a double play combination that lasted through April 1912. The Cubs won the pennant four times between 1906 and 1910, often defeating the Giants en route to the World Series.
The poem was first published in the New York Evening Mail
on July 12, 1912. Popular among sportswriters, numerous additional verses were written. The poem gave Tinker, Evers, and Chance increased popularity and been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
The term "White flag time at Wrigley!"
, coined by former play-by-play broadcaster Chip Caray, means the Cubs have won.
Beginning in the days of P.K. Wrigley and the 1937 bleacher/scoreboard reconstruction, and prior to modern media saturation, a flag with either a "W" or an "L" has flown from atop the scoreboard masthead, indicating the day's result(s) when baseball was played at Wrigley. In case of a doubleheader that results in a split, both the "win" and "loss" flags are flown.
Past Cubs media guides show that originally the flags were blue with a white "W" and white with a blue "L". In 1978, consistent with the dominant colors of the flags, blue and white lights were mounted atop the scoreboard, denoting "win" and "loss" respectively for the benefit of nighttime passers-by.
The flags were replaced by 1990, the first year in which the Cubs media guide reports the switch to the now familiar colors of the flags: White with blue "W" and blue with white "L". In addition to needing to replace the worn-out flags, by then the retired numbers of Banks and Williams were flying on the foul poles, as white with blue numbers; so the "good" flag was switched to match that scheme.
This long-established tradition has evolved to fans carrying the white-with-blue-W flags to both home and away games, and displaying them after a Cub win. The flags have become more and more popular each season since 1998, and are now even sold as T-shirts with the same layout. In 2009, the tradition spilled over to the NHL as Chicago Blackhawks fans adopted a red and black "W" flag of their own.
The official Cub mascot is a young bear cub, which has gone through various transformations through the years and was the inspiration of the Chicago Staleys changing their team's name to the Chicago Bears, due to the Cubs allowing the football team to play at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have no official physical mascot, though a man in a 'polar bear' looking outfit, called "The Bear-man" (or Beeman), which was not very popular with the fans, was employed by the club briefly in the early 1990s. Currently, there are "Cubbie-bear" mascots outside of Wrigley on game day, but none are employed by the team. They pose for pictures with fans for tips.
Another unofficial but much more notable mascot is Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers who is a longtime fan and local celebrity in the Chicago area. He is known to Wrigley Field visitors for his idiosyncratic cheers at baseball games, generally punctuated with an exclamatory "Woo!" (e.g., "Cubs, woo! Cubs, woo! Big-Z, woo! Zambrano, woo! Cubs, woo!") Longtime Cubs announcer Harry Caray dubbed Wickers "Leather Lungs" for his ability to shout for hours at a time. He is not employed by the team, although the club has on two separate occasions allowed him into the broadcast booth and allow him some degree of freedom once he purchases or is given a ticket by fans to get into the games. He is largely allowed to roam the park and interact with fans by Wrigley Field security, although there have been numerous minor occurrences where Wickers has had confrontations with fans who do not approve of his antics.
The Cubs have played their home games at Wrigley Field, also known as "The Friendly Confines"
since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park
for the Chicago Whales, a Federal League
baseball team. The Cubs also shared the park with the Chicago Bears of the NFL for 50 years. The ballpark includes a manual scoreboard, ivy-covered brick walls, and relatively small dimensions.
Located in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood, Wrigley Field sits on an irregular block bounded by Clark and Addison Streets and Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. The area surrounding the ballpark is typically referred to as Wrigleyville. There is a dense collection of sports bars and restaurants in the area, most with baseball inspired themes, including Sluggers, Murphy's Bleachers and The Cubby Bear. Many of the apartment buildings surrounding Wrigley Field on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues have built bleachers on their rooftops for fans to view games and other sell space for advertisement. One building on Sheffield Avenue has a sign atop it's roof which says "Eamus Catuli!" which is Latin for "Let's Go Cubs!" and another chronicles the time since the last Division title, pennant, and World Series championship, as shown in the picture to the left. The 02 denotes two years since the 2008 NL Central title, 65 years since the 1945 pennant and 102 years since the 1908 World Series championship. On game days, many residents rent out their yards and driveways to people looking for parking spots. The uniqueness of the neighborhood itself has ingrained itself into the culture of the Chicago Cubs as well as the Wrigleyville neighborhood, and has led to being used for concerts and other sporting events, such as the 2010 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, as well as a 2010 NCAA men's football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois Fighting Illini.
In 2013, Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney unveiled plans for a $300M renovation to Wrigley Field to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The proposed plans include a 6000 square foot jumbotron in left center field, and a return of some of the parks features from the 1930s, including recreating the green terra-cotta canopies and wrought-iron fencing that were part of Wrigley in that era. Previously, mostly all efforts to conduct large-scale renovations the field to former mayor Richard M. Daley (a staunch White Sox fan) had been opposed by the city and rooftop owners.
The "Bleacher Bums" is a name given to fans, many of whom spend much of the day heckling, who sit in the bleacher section at Wrigley Field. Initially, the group was called "bums" because it referred to a group of fans who were at most games, and since those games were all day games, it was assumed they did not work. Many of those fans were, and are still, students at Chicago area colleges, such as DePaul University, Loyola, Northwestern University, and Illinois-Chicago. A Broadway play, starring Joe Mantegna, Dennis Farina, Dennis Franz, and James Belushi ran for years and was based on a group of Cub fans who frequented the club's games. The group was started in 1967 by dedicated fans Ron Grousl, Tom Nall and "mad bugler" Mike Murphy, who was a sports radio host during mid days on Chicago-based WSCR AM 670 "The Score". Murphy alleges that Grousl started the Wrigley tradition of throwing back opposing teams' home run balls. The current group is headed by Derek Schaul. Prior to the 2006 season, they were updated, with new shops and private bar (The Batter's Eye) being added, and Bud Light bought naming rights to the bleacher section, dubbing them the Bud Light Bleachers
. Bleachers at Wrigley are general admission.
In 1975, a group of Chicago Cubs fans based in Washington, D.C. formed the Emil Verban Society. The society is a select club of high profile Cub fans, currently headed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin which is named for Emil Verban, who in three seasons with the Cubs in the 1940s batted .280 with 39 runs batted in and one home run. Verban was picked as the epitome of a Cub player, explains columnist George Will, because "He exemplified mediocrity under pressure, he was competent but obscure and typifying of the work ethics." Verban initially believed he was being ridiculed, but his ill feeling disappeared several years later when he was flown to Washington to meet President Ronald Reagan, also a society member, at the White House. Hillary Clinton, Jim Belushi, Joe Mantegna, Rahm Emanuel, Dick Cheney and many others have been included among its membership.
During the summer of 1969, a Chicago studio group produced a single record called "Hey Hey! Holy Mackerel! (The Cubs Song)" whose title and lyrics incorporated the catch-phrases of the respective TV and radio announcers for the Cubs, Jack Brickhouse and Vince Lloyd. Several members of the Cubs recorded an album called Cub Power
which contained a cover of the song. The song received a good deal of local airplay that summer, associating it very strongly with that bittersweet season. It was played much less frequently thereafter, although it remained an unofficial Cubs theme song for some years after.
For many years, Cubs radio broadcasts started with "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ball Game" by the Harry Simeone Chorale. In 1979, Roger Bain released a 45 rpm record of his song "Thanks Mr. Banks," to honor “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks.
The song "Go, Cubs, Go!" by Steve Goodman was recorded early in the 1984 season, and was heard frequently during that season. Goodman died in September of that year, four days before the Cubs clinched the National League Eastern Division title, their first title in 39 years. Since 1984, the song started being played from time to time at Wrigley Field; since 2007, the song has been played over the loudspeakers following each Cubs home victory.
In 2007, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder composed a song dedicated to the team called "All the Way". Vedder, a Chicago native, and lifelong Cubs fan, composed the song at the request of Ernie Banks. Pearl Jam has only played this song live one time, on August 2, 2007 at the Vic Theater in Chicago, IL. Eddie Vedder has played this song live twice, at his solo shows at the Chicago Auditorium on August 21 and 22, 2008.
An album entitled Take Me Out to a Cubs Game
was released in 2008. It is a collection of 17 songs and other recordings related to the team, including Harry Caray's final performance of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on September 21, 1997, the Steve Goodman song mentioned above, and a newly-recorded rendition of "Talkin' Baseball" (subtitled "Baseball and the Cubs") by Terry Cashman. The album was produced in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Cubs' 1908 World Series victory and contains sounds and songs of the Cubs and Wrigley Field.