Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, you couldn’t have helped but notice the Chicago Cubs’ history-making World Series win on November 2nd. Now people can finally stop talking about the "Billy Goat curse," "the black cat curse," Steve Bartman, and other superstitions fans either exaggerated or dreamed up to explain the Cubs’ previous lack of a World Series win since 1908.
The Chicago Cubs, founded in 1870, was the first American professional sports team to play in any sport. It began as the Chicago White Stockings (not to be confused with the Chicago White Sox). The White Stockings featured many top players of the time, including Cap Anson, who later became the team manager. Another early member of the team was Billy Sunday, who would later become a famous evangelist.
Apparently, the team couldn’t make up its mind about its name, though, because it later became known as the Orphans, Colts, Panamas, Rainmakers, Spuds, Trojans, Microbes, and Zephyrs. In 1902, a sportswriter commented on the number of young players on the Chicago team. His nickname for the team, the Cubs, stuck; the team officially adopted it in 1907.
The first decade of the 1900s was good for the Cubs. In 1906, they not only won the major league record for number of wins in a single season (with 116 wins) and the record winning percentage (.763), but they won their first pennant. That year, for the only time in history, the two final teams at the World Series were both from Chicago, as the Cubs faced the White Sox. The White Sox won, but the Cubs fought back, winning the pennant again in 1907, along with the World Series that year and the next. In 1910, they won the pennant yet again, for a total of four pennants out of five seasons.
Originally, the World Series was played among three major leagues: the Chicago-based National League, founded in 1876; the American League, founded in 1901; and the Federal League, founded in 1913. In 1916, the Federal League disbanded, and its former owner bought the Chicago Cubs and moved them to the ballpark that he had built for his now-bankrupt league. Eventually, the park would become known as Wrigley Field. It is the second oldest ballpark in major league baseball, beside the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park.
For the next 100+ years, the Cubs fluctuated between greatness and mediocrity. They managed to win several more pennants, but never a World Series. In 1945, they won another pennant; this would be their last for 71 years, although they came close a few times.
In the end, the cure for the “curse” that plagued the Cubs had nothing to do with superstition. In 2011, the Cubs hired Theo Epstein who, in 2004, had led the Boston Red Sox to their first win in 96 years. (Ironically, the last time the Red Sox had won a World Series prior to that was when they had beaten the Cubs for the title in 1918.)
Epstein’s unconventional methods, used with the Red Sox, proved successful once again; the Cubs, after giving their fans a real cliffhanger, finally won the World Series after 108 years!