Cubs (née White Stockings) join National League

After five years in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) left the league to join the nascent National League, which had been formed in part by team financier William Hulbert. Behind Hall of Fame infielder Cap Anson, the Cubs were one of the NL’s early powerhouses, finishing first in the league six times in its first 11 years of existence.

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Team is unofficially named the Cubs

By the end of the 19th century, the Chicago team had dropped its White Stockings name, going as the Colts from 1890 to ‘97 and then as the Orphans (a reference to Anson’s departure after the ‘97 season) from ‘98 to 1902. It was in that year that the Chicago Daily News first began to refer to the team as the “Cubs,” in reference to the roster’s abundance of young players. The moniker stuck and was adopted as the franchise’s official name in 1907.

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Cubs set major league record for wins and winning percentage but lose World Series

Led by the Hall of Fame infield trio of first baseman Frank Chance, second baseman Johnny Evers and shortstop Joe Tinker as well as the pitching of Hall of Fame righthander Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown, the Cubs set a major league record with 116 wins—a mark that stood unmatched for nearly 100 years until the 2001 Mariners tied it—and a winning percentage of .763, still the best in baseball history. Despite that overpowering regular season and despite facing the crosstown White Sox, known as the Hitless Wonders after they finished last in the American League with a .230 average, the Cubs lost the World Series in six games.

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Cubs win franchise’s first World Series

The 1907 team won 107 games, still the second-most in franchise history, en route to the teams first World Series title, a four-game sweep over Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers. Chicago’s five starting pitchers—Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Carl Lundgren and Ed Reulbach—each posted an ERA under 2.00 in 192 innings or more. In the Series, all but Lundgren got a start as the Cubs held the Tigers to just six runs.

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Cubs win second World Series title

The 1908 season was a rollercoaster for Chicago, which jumped out to an early lead in the NL standings but spent most of the summer trailing the New York Giants. Trailing by 4 ½ games with just two weeks left in the season, the Cubs rallied to win 14 of their final 18 games. That stretch included a controversial tie against the Giants on Sept. 23, when New York’s rookie first baseman, Fred Merkle, committed a base-running blunder in the ninth—forever known as “Merkle’s Boner”—by failing to touch second base after what should have been a walk-off single. Chicago alertly—and controversially—forced Merkle out at second, taking the winning run off the board for the Giants. With the two teams tied in the standings on the season’s final day, a makeup of the tie game was played to decide the pennant, which the Cubs won, 4-2. Chicago went on to beat Detroit once again for its second straight championship. They would have a long wait until their third.

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Team moves to North Side

In 1910 the Cubs won their fourth pennant in five years but lost a five-game World Series to the Philadelphia Athletics. Over the course of the next decade, Brown, Tinkers, Evers and Chance all left, and the team slumped to the bottom of the league. In 1916, however, the Cubs were sold to Albert Lasker and Charles Weeghman, who moved the team from Chicago’s West Side to the North Side park that had opened as the home of a Federal League team in 1914 and would be rechristened in 1927 as Wrigley Field.

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First of four World Series losses over next decade

The new ownership soon brought a pennant back to the Cubs, who finished first in the NL in 1918 but again lost the World Series, this time to a Boston Red Sox team led by ace southpaw Babe Ruth. Chicago’s next pennant didn’t come until ‘29, with Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby and stout slugger Hack Wilson leading the Cubs to 98 wins and a berth in the World Series against the Philadelphia A’s. Chicago was poised to tie the Series at 2-2 in Game 4 when it carried an 8-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh. But the A’s—who boasted a lineup featuring future Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons—erupted for 10 runs, still a Series record, and won 10-8 before closing out the Series in Game 5.

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Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” helps sink Cubs in World Series

With an aging Hornsby acting as player-manager for the first half of the season, the Cubs won 90 games to secure the pennant but ran into the buzzsaw that was the New York Yankees. Coming off a 107-win season and playing in their fourth World Series in seven years, the Bronx Bombers easily swept aside the Cubs. The series is best known for Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” in Game 3, when the legendary slugger allegedly called his own home run at Wrigley Field, but it was Lou Gehrig (.529, three home runs, eight RBIs) who really doomed Chicago.

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Ivy added to Wrigley Field’s outfield walls

In the summer of 1937, construction began on the centerfield bleachers and the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, both of which remain in place to this day. That same year, team president Bill Veeck suggested planting ivy on the outfield walls as part of team owner P.K. Wrigley’s desire to make the stadium look more like a park. Wrigley approved, and the ivy has remained an iconic part of the ballpark ever since.

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“The Homer in the Gloamin’”

The Cubs had trailed in the pennant race by as many as nine games in late August, but a hot September got them to within 1 ½ games of the first-place Pirates, who came into town on Sept. 27 for a three-game series. Behind staff ace Dizzy Dean, Chicago won the first game to cut the lead to half a game. The next day, the two teams were tied at five going into the ninth. With darkness falling and no lights at Wrigley, the umpires ruled that the game would be stopped after the ninth and, if still tied, replayed the next day. But with two outs in the bottom of the frame, catcher Gabby Hartnett launched a walk-off home run to give the Cubs the win that moved them into first place. Chicago ultimately won the pennant by two games but was swept again by the Yankees in the World Series.

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Billy Goat Curse sends Cubs to a sixth straight World Series loss

After several years of sub-.500 mediocrity, the Cubs unexpectedly took the NL pennant in 1945 with a major league-best 98 wins. Led by league MVP Phil Cavarretta, Chicago featured one of the best offenses in baseball, and the pitching staff’s 2.98 ERA was second best in the league. Pitted against the Tigers in the World Series, the Cubs won two of the first three games. But during Game 4 at Wrigley, Billy Sianis, the owner of the nearby Billy Goat Tavern, was asked to leave the game because the smell of his pet goat, Murphy, was bothering the other fans. Sianis did depart, but only after angrily pronouncing, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” Chicago lost Games 4 and 5, then stayed alive with a Game 6 victory. But in the winner-take-all Game 7, the Cubs gave up five runs in the first inning en route to a 9–3 loss. Sianis’s hex would live on as the Curse of the Billy Goat, keeping the Cubs out of the World Series until 2016.

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Cubs begin worst stretch in franchise history

For 20 seasons starting in 1947, Chicago never once finished better than .500 or higher than fifth in the 10-team National League. Along the way, the Cubs twice set a franchise record for losses, finishing 59–103 in 1962 and again in ‘66. That 1962 season came in the midst of the team’s ill-fated “college of coaches” experiment in which a rotating cast of coaches would lead the club. Chicago finished 42 ½ games out of first place, outdone only by the expansion New York Mets, who lost a modern record 120 games in their inaugural year.

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Ernie Banks makes his MLB debut

Not all was lost for the Cubs during their two-decade stint in the wilderness. On Sept. 17, 1953, a Texas native named Ernie Banks made his major league debut and soon established himself as one of the best players in baseball. Over a 19-year career spent entirely on the North Side, Banks won two MVP awards, was named an All-Star 12 times, hit 512 home runs and played dazzling defense at shortstop and, later in his career, at first base en route to the Hall of Fame. “Mr. Cub,” as he was universally known, was an effervescent presence during the franchise’s darkest years, despite the fact that he never played in a single postseason game with the Cubs.

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The Black Cat Curse

Chicago’s long stretch in the NL basement finally came to an end in 1967 and ‘68, when the team put together its first consecutive winning seasons since ‘46 and ‘47. Though neither resulted in an end to the long postseason drought, 1969 looked to be the Cubs’ year. In the first season of divisional play and led by the trio of third baseman Ron Santo, outfielder Billy Williams and rotation ace Fergie Jenkins, the Cubs raced out to a 36–16 start and an 8 ½-game lead in the NL East. They still led by nine games on Aug. 16 but went just 17-26 onward and finished second to the Mets, eight games behind. Prominently figuring in the minds of Cubs fans during that late-summer swoon: a black cat that appeared on the field during a loss to the Mets at Shea Stadium on Sept. 9, which was part of an eight-game losing streak for Chicago. The Mets went on to beat the Atlanta Braves in the first NLCS and then the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series for their first championship.

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Cubs snap 39-year postseason drought

After finishing second again in 1970 and ‘72, the Cubs endured 11 straight seasons in which they finished no better than .500. That streak finally ended in 1984, and so too did the franchise’s postseason drought, as Chicago piled up an NL-best 96 wins to claim the division crown. Led by NL MVP Ryne Sandberg at the plate and with a rotation fronted by trade acquisitions Dennis Eckersley and NL Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe, the Cubs were matched up with the Padres in the NLCS and took a 2–0 lead in the best-of-five series. But Chicago lost the next three games in San Diego, including a Game 5 defeat that is best remembered for a groundball going through the legs of first baseman Leon Durham as part of a four-run seventh that gave the Padres a 6-3 lead that became the final score.

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First night game in Wrigley Field’s history

After decades of darkness, the Cubs finally played the first night game in Wrigley Field’s history on Aug. 8, 1988 against the Phillies under the glow of a newly installed series of lights. The addition of lights marked the end of years of fighting with both MLB and the city of Chicago, with the Cubs hinting that the team would leave Wrigley if the city did not allow the installation of lights and the playing of night games, and with MLB threatening to move playoff games if the Cubs didn’t go electric. Ultimately, the city and team reached an agreement, although the Aug. 8 game was rained out after three innings. The first full night game was played on Aug. 9 against the Mets, a 6-4 Chicago win.

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Cubs win NL East but lose to Giants in NLCS

Young stars like Greg Maddux, Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston helped complement the veteran core of Sandberg, Sutcliffe and 1987 NL MVP Andre Dawson to carry the Cubs to their second NL East crown in six seasons. Chicago won 93 games—tops in the NL—and was matched against the NL West-champion Giants in the championship series. San Francisco split the first two games at Wrigley Field then came back from early deficits to win all three games at Candlestick Park and advance to the World Series.

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Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and a wild-card playoff berth

The early and mid-1990s were a forgettable period on the North Side, but the emergence of two superstars in 1998 changed the Cubs’ fortune. The first was Kerry Wood, a rookie righthander who announced his presence by tying the major-league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 20 against the Astros on May 6 en route to NL Rookie of the Year honors. The second was Sammy Sosa, who had joined the Cubs in 1992 in a trade with the White Sox and spent the year battling Mark McGwire in a chase to break Roger Maris’s single-season home run record. Sosa finished the year with 66 homers, second to McGwire’s 70, and helped the Cubs to 90 wins. The last of those victories came against the Giants in a one-game tiebreaker for the NL wild-card spot, but the Cubs were no match for the Braves, who swept them aside in the NLDS.

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The Steve Bartman Game

Two last-place finishes followed the Cubs’ 1998 season, but by the start of the new millennium, the team looked like a contender once more, thanks in large part to the hardthrowing duo of Wood and 22-year-old Mark Prior. The Cubs won 19 of their final 27 games to claim the NL Central by one game, then downed the Braves in the NLDS for their first postseason series win since 1945. In the NLCS against the Marlins, Chicago won three of the first four games and, after losing Game 5 in Florida, had a 3-0 lead with five outs to go and Prior on the mound in Game 6 at Wrigley Field. But with one out and one on in the eighth inning, a fan named Steve Bartman interfered with a Luis Castillo foul popup in the leftfield stands, preventing Moises Alou from catching it for the second out. Castillo then drew a walk, sparking an eight-run rally against an exhausted Prior and the Cubs’ bullpen as the Marlins won 8-3. The next night, a Wood home run helped the Cubs to a 5–3 lead in the fifth inning, but again the Marlins’ bats kept pounding away, winning 9-6 and denying Chicago the pennant for the 58th straight year.


Theo Epstein takes over as Cubs’ team president

Despite back-to-back NL Central titles in 2007 and ‘08, the Cubs failed to advance beyond the Division Series in both seasons, then fell into second place in ‘09 and under .500 in ‘10 and ‘11. After that 2011 season, Chicago—under new ownership as of January ‘09—fired longtime general manager Jim Hendry. In his place, the Cubs brought in Theo Epstein, who had helped build the Red Sox team that had ended its 86-year title drought in ‘04 and won another World Series in ‘07, as president of baseball operations. Under Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, the Cubs began the long process of rebuilding, bottoming out with a 101-loss season in 2012 but acquiring the prospects and pieces needed to quickly turn the team into a championship contender.

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Cubs win 103 games, NL Central title

Chicago’s youth movement began to flourish in 2015, when the Cubs won 97 games before beating the Pirates in the wild-card game and the rival Cardinals in the Division Series to reach the NLCS for the first time since ‘03. Although they were swept by the Mets, in 2016, the Cubs were even better, winning 103 games—the franchise’s most since the 1910 squad won 104—and running away with the NL Central. With a rotation fronted by Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and defending NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, and a powerful offense led by NL MVP favorite Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Chicago easily finished with the best record in baseball, then topped the Giants in the Division Series to reach the NLCS for the second straight year.

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Cubs win pennant, advance to World Series

The 71-year drought is over: The Cubs are National League champions. Down two games to one in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago rallied to win the next three games, clinching the series with a Game 6 victory at Wrigley Field against three-time NL Cy Young Clayton Kershaw. The victory gave the Cubs their first pennant since 1945, the year of the Billy Goat Curse, and a berth in the World Series against the American League champion Cleveland Indians, who entered the Fall Classic looking to end a world championship drought of their own, one that stretches to 1948.

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Cubs win first World Series in 108 years

It’s finally happened: The Cubs are World Series champions. Playing in its first Fall Classic in 71 years, Chicago dispatched the Indians in seven games, storming back from a 3–1 series deficit to claim its first title since 1908. The Cubs ripped off three straight wins to clinch the championship, including the final two in Cleveland, with Chicago taking an early Game 7 lead and holding off several Indians rallies to secure the victory. The long-awaited championship ends the longest title drought in North American professional sports history and ends the Cubs' streak of seven straight World Series losses dating back to 1910.

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