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When the Chicago Cubs were champions of the world
The Philadelphia Phillies recently hosted the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series. The Phillies have the talent and potential to return to the World Series for the third time in the past four seasons. On the other hand, the Cubs have been playing sub-.500 ball and are not expected to contend this season.
However, there was a time when the fortunes of these two franchises were reversed. The Cubbies, coming off a World Series championship year in 1907, were trying to repeat in 1908.
Tinker to Evers to Chance
One of the most famous double play combinations in baseball history took that field that year in Chicago.
Their three future Hall of Famers were: shortstop, Joe Tinker, second baseman, Johnny Evers and first baseman Frank Chance, who was also the team's manager. The trio is most remembered for having their names immortalized in a 1910 poem.
Despite their effectiveness on the diamond, Evers and Tinker were believed to despise each other. The pair stopped speaking while they were teammates and didn't communicate again until they were summoned by their dying teammate and manager Chance, in 1924.
Chicago's staff wasn't deep that year. But, their top two starters were phenomenal.
Mordecai 'Three Finger' Brown, led the staff and turned in the best season of his Hall of Fame career. The Indiana native gained his nickname because he had lost part of his index and pinky finger on his pitching hand in a farm machinery accident as a child.
Brown, who started and relieved, threw 312 1/3 innings, went 29-9, recorded five saves and a 1.47 ERA.
Fellow right-hander, Ed Reulbach, followed Brown in the rotation and also had a superb season, going 24-7.
Pennant and the Series
The Cubs went 99-55, to win the National League Pennant that season.
Hall of Fame manager John McGraw led the Giants to within one game of the Cubs that season. His top pitcher, future Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson posted a gaudy 37-11 record during their second place finish.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and their shortstop Honus Wagner tied the Giants with a 98-56 record. Wagner would become as famous for his Hall of Fame career, as he did for his rare tobacco baseball card.
Chicago beat twenty-one-year-old future Hall of Famer Ty Cobb and his Detroit Tigers four games to one to win back-to-back World Series titles in 1908. The franchise has lost the World Series seven times since then, mostly recently in 1945.
Growing up in the Philadelphia region during the late 1970s and early 1980s naturally enabled everyone to become Phillies fans. My friends and I learned the game on little league fields, through trading cards and by playing APBA. Immediately after graduating from Penn State in 1990, I started my career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons front office. At that time they were the Phillies Triple A farm team. Follow me on Twitter @ SeanyOB
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Memories of Los Angeles Dodger Fernando Valenzuela
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