The Cubs: The Complete Story of Chicago Cubs Baseball

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The definitive narrative history of the Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have won the hearts of generations of fans, even if they haven’t always won those pivotal games. They were America’s most successful baseball club at the turn of the twentieth century, but by the turn of the twenty-first, things had changed. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, and the last time they clinched the National League Pennant was in 1945. Yet the Cubs have some of the most devoted fans ...

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The definitive narrative history of the Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have won the hearts of generations of fans, even if they haven’t always won those pivotal games. They were America’s most successful baseball club at the turn of the twentieth century, but by the turn of the twenty-first, things had changed. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, and the last time they clinched the National League Pennant was in 1945. Yet the Cubs have some of the most devoted fans in all of sport. As Glenn Stout writes in the introduction, “They are the game’s last unsolved mystery, the final conundrum, a historical enigma, baseball’s oldest story, with an ending that has yet to be written.” The Cubs chronicles the long, rich, counterintuitive history of this team in all its depth, nuance, and color. We catch a rare glimpse of the early days of Chicago baseball in the 1860s and 1870s and witness the magical 1906 season, with its 116 wins, still the most in major league history. Ernie Banks’s legendary career is covered in detail, as are decisive seasons, such as 1969’s heartbreaking loss to the Amazin’ Mets. Sammy Sosa’s sixty-plus home runs are here too—together with later allegations regarding corked bats and steroids. The authors cast an analytical eye on the tumultuous reign of chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley and his son Philip, as well as the Tribune Company's planned sale of the Cubs. And we hear the true story behind the “Curse of the Billy Goat”—what has really “cursed” the Cubs all these years.
A must-have for Cubs fans past and present, The Cubs tells the complete story in a single narrative for the first time since 1945.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A definitive account of the last remaining team to have gone almost a century without earning a World Series championship, this illustrated team history displays the superb gifts that have graced the authors' similar studies (Yankees Century; The Dodgers). Stout combines skillful writing with methodical research to produce detailed and insightful reporting on the truth behind team myths. (The book is not authorized by the Cubs organization.) He shows how the 1906 Cubs, "perhaps the best club of that time period," won the 1907 and 1908 world championships while also being "underachievers" who quickly collapsed after their championships. He notes long-time owner P.K. Wrigley took almost seven seasons after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign black players. And his account of the 1969 season, when they lost the division title to that year's "Amazin' Mets," deftly shows that the team really wasn't as good as its record looked, with too many wins earned against weaker new expansion teams. Johnson's copious selection of photographs brilliantly displays all Cub eras in their glory and misery, from a cover photo of "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks joyously clicking his heels in Wrigley Field, to a full-page photo of a black cat crossing third baseman Ron Santo's path during a game against the Mets that helped decide the fate of the 1969 season. (Oct. 1)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618595006
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Only the Cubs remain.
Until recently, a common history has linked the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox. All three teams had gone almost a century since winning a world championship, and in the interim all had experienced a string of almost comical bad luck and futility.
Boston fans traced their frustration back to 1918 and included the seasons of 1946, 1948, 1975, 1978, 1986, and 2003 in their litany of pain. White Sox followers counted the days since 1906 and the dark era of the Black Sox scandal that followed soon after and had not even experienced a pennant since 1959.
Cubs fans cite 1908, an era they know only through old newspapers, an era so far back in the distant past that there were no airplanes then, no radio. The blues had yet to take root in Chicago. Wrigley Field had not been built. The Model T was still on the drawing board, and the Loop was still a shining marvel, impervious to rust. The Chicago Bears football club did not exist because neither did the National Football League. Notorious gangster Al Capone was just a runny-nosed kid in Brooklyn. Carl Sandburg was an unknown poet and political organizer. Put it this way—in 1908 the New York Yankees had yet to win a single pennant, never mind the World Series. They have since won twenty-six world titles.
The Cubs have won none.
It was not always this way. In 1908 the Cubs were kings. They had supplanted New York’s Giants as baseball’s most dominant and successful franchise, won three straight National League pennants and two consecutive world championships, and averaged 107 wins in each of the three previous seasons. The “Cubs” moniker seemed too tame for such a potent ball club. Scribes sometimes called them the “Bruins,” and even that name failed to encompass the terror other clubs felt when facing the powerful National League champions. All baseball cowered before them.
So in the name of God, what the hell happened? The Red Sox shed their past by winning the World Series in 2004, and the White Sox—the White Sox, for crying out loud!—did the same in 2005. And when the Red Sox and White Sox won the World Series, their nonagenarian fans who remembered the last time it happened became instant celebrities.
No one alive today remembers the 1908 Cubs with any clarity. No one.
Now only the Cubs remain. Only the Cubs and their fans do not know what it is like to experience a world championship. The club of Tinker and Evers and Chance, Charlie Weeghman, William Wrigley, Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Leo the Lip, Bruce Sutter, Greg Maddux, Harry Caray, Ryne Sandberg, and Mark Grace. They stand alone, singular in their discontent, confounding the “friendly confines” and the laws of probability, if not the laws of nature itself, checking off their failure season after season, now in its ninety-ninth straight year, a near-century of perennial agony and frustration. For over this time the Cubs have also been the club of Rabbit Maranville, P.K. Wrigley, the “College of Coaches,” Kenny Hubbs, Ernie Broglio, Don Young, the Tribune Company, Kerry Wood’s tender elbow, Sammy Sosa’s corked bat, and Steve Bartman.
They have been loved, but they have not won. That is the short version of the story. The longer version follows.
This book tells the story of the Cubs and tries to explain how and why they have come to be so loved, how and why they have not won, and how and why the latter does not seem to affect the former. The challenge of this book is to explain how, in the face of such record failure, the Cubs still inspire more joy than angst, more pleasant memories than pain. They are baseball’s last unsolved mystery, the final conundrum, a historical enigma, baseball’s oldest story, with an ending that has yet to be written.
That makes them as irresistible to a historian as they are to their fans. For in the end their story, against all odds and logic, is not quite a tragedy.
At least not yet. But it’s getting close.

Well over a decade ago, my colleague and close friend Richard Johnson and I conceived of this series of illustrated team histories, which began with Red Sox Century (2000) and continued with Yankees Century (2002) and The Dodgers (2004). The Cubs posed a special challenge, for their history begins in the game’s dark ages, and perhaps that explains why no previous narrative history has ever attempted to tell their entire story. Nearly two-thirds of their history is, in a sense, almost pre-historical, virtually without living witnesses.
Fortunately, there is still a wealth of material available from which to reconstruct their story. As with our previous books, newspaper accounts preserved on microfilm aand now online have served as the primary resource material for this book. I spent a glorious week in the microfilm department at the Chicago Pubbbbblic Library making thousands of copies from various Chicago newspapers; through the miracle of modern technology, I also spent countless hours online plumbing the depths of the Chicago Tribune, the Sun- Times, and the Daily Herald—all of which are substantially available in electronic form—as well as the archives of other newspapers from around the country, slowly extracting the story of the Cubs from millions of words of agate type. Similarly, I read as many books about the Cubs as possible to create a road map and framework for the story, as well as to identify both areas for additional exploration and areas that had been ignored by others. The Chicago Cubs organization was not consulted about the project, nor was this project done with its approval. In our experience, independence has proven more valuable than the kind of controlled access that comes when one partners with a subject. Interviews did not play an overly significant role in this book—as previously stated, most Cubs history is without witnesses, and to change approach as we came up on the modern era would have been jarring. Interviews were used primarily as background and include conversations I have had with Cubs players and their opponents periodically over the last twenty years while pursuing a variety of other projects. I have often found that conversations with fans and others are just as enlightening as those with players, and all these perspectives have combined to inform this project.
Richard Johnson’s inimitable explorations in Cubs imagery mirrored my own excursions into print, and he shares my belief, earned over the two years we have spent on this project, that the Cubs are at least as worthy as their peers of a book of this scope. We only hope that we are worthy enough to write it. I trust the readers will let us know. We have been honored that Scott Turow, Penny Marshall, William Nack, the estate of Mike Royko, Rick Telander, and John Schulian agreed to add their insight to this project with their essays.
The best part of any project of this type is, of course, what you learn along the way, and I have to say that in that regard this book has not been disappointing. Ever since I was a young boy, along with my dreams of one day playing in the major leagues, I would occasionally fantasize that I knew someone who had done that, or that I would find a distant uncle or cousin who had.
While writing this book, that actually happened. My brother, while researching a family genealogy, informed me that we were related to a former big leaguer. In fact, he was a former Cub, the Depression-era pitcher Clyde Shoun, nicknamed “Hardrock.” It seems that several generations ago the Shouns and the Stouts both sprouted from the same small northeastern Tennessee town, Mountain City, and that some generations back a Stout and a Shoun married, making Clyde Shoun and myself something like fourth cousins twice removed. That’s close enough for me, and I hereby claim my Cubs birthright.
Although I have been living in the Northeast for the past twenty-five years, I am a native of the Midwest and was born and raised in a small town outside Columbus, Ohio. Several months after I graduated from college, I was back in Columbus pouring concrete for a living, precisely what I had been doing before attending college. I determined that it was time to leave and decided that I would move to a city with an old ballpark, a place where I could go see major league baseball just about anytime I wanted, something I had never been able to do.
At the time, the choices were few, and I quickly narrowed my potential destination to either Chicago or Boston. I had, in fact, made the decision to go to Chicago before changing my mind at nearly the last minute, when I decided that I’d had enough of the Midwest and would try my luck nearer the ocean. I went to Boston, spent many hundreds of hours in Fenway Park, and have since returned to the Midwest only for funerals and holidays.
In the course of researching this book, I spent a few weeks in and around Chicago—it was really the first time I had been back to the Midwest for any length of time since I left. It was a bit different than I remember—Chicago, after all, is quite a bit more cosmopolitan than a small town outside Columbus, Ohio—but I was also struck by the friendly and open nature of the people. Living in the Northeast, I had grown accustomed to being greeted with suspicion, sometimes even after living years in a place, and I had long ago developed the persistent defensive wariness that characterizes so many who live out this way. But from the instant I stepped off the plane in Chicago, I realized that veneer was not needed anymore. It seemed that I never took more than a few steps without ending up in a conversation that might have started with a simple pleasantry but, once the Cubs were mentioned, morphed into one of those talks where you look at the clock and wonder where the time went and whether you have enough change for one more beer.
This was nowhere more true than in and around Wrigley Field, a place I had never been before I began this book. Wrigley was all that it was advertised to be and quite a bit more—instantly comfortable, like an old chair. I felt surrounded by friends, something I have never, ever felt in Fenway Park, which over time has become increasingly standoffish and full of “us against them” antagonism.
Although I don’t regret that instead of taking a left to Chicago I took a right to Boston, I must admit that when I was visiting Chicago I could not help but wonder how different my life might have been had I taken that other direction. Then, wandering through a near-empty Wrigley Field one day, as the sun set behind the third-base grandstand and cast long shadows out across the outfield and bathed the bleachers in the golden glow of late summer, I knew exactly what would have happened had I decided, twenty-five years before, to move to Chicago.
I would have been right where I was, in Wrigley Field.

—GLENN STOUT Alburgh, Vermont December 2006

Copyright © 2007 by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv Introduction xvii

1867–1897 The Captain’s Club 3

1898–1905 “Trio of Bear Cubs” 29

1906–1908 Peerless 47

1909–1918 Dynasty’s End 73

1919–1925 Wrigley In and Wriggling Away 97

1926–1931 And the Last Shall Be First 115

1932–1938 Lights Out 141 Neverland by Richard A. Johnson 152

1939–1945 War Stories 173

1946–1953 Doormats 197 Cubs at Wrigley by William Nack 204

1954–1965 Mr. Cub 223

1966–1968 Here Comes the Sun 249

1969–1971 A Series of Swoons 265

1972–1981 Trials and Tribune-lations 289 A Summer at Wrigley Field by Rick Telander 292 It Was Wrigley, Not Some Goat, Who Cursed Cubs by Mike Royko 310

1981–1984 Big Shoulders 319

1985–1994 Days of Grace and Disgrace 345 The Joke Goes On Forever by John Schulian 362

1995–1998 Say It Ain’t So, Sammy . . . 375 The Meaning of Cubness by Scott Turow 380

1999–2006 CubsWin!!! . . . Doh! 399 There’s No Crying in Baseball by Penny Marshall 414

Appendix A: The Cubs’ Annual Record 431 Appendix B: All-Time Cubs Teams 437 Index 445

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Would highly recommend for the serious Cub fan.

    Excellent book about Cubs history. Lot's of interesting info.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Christmas Gift - HIT!

    Gave this as a gift to a super Cubbie fan and he loved it.
    I bought it based on B&N review and my friend loves it. So thanks for the recommendation - great gift idea.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Cubs History

    Love-love-love the book!

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Great Gift

    I gave this too my boss for Christmas and he absolutely loved it. It is a great gift that is not the norm.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 22, 2008

    Comprenhensive Reading

    A comprehensive history of the Cubs. Well done. This book, along with two others ("The Best Team Ever" about the 1907 Cubs and "Crazy '08" about the 1908 Cubs) gives a fine portrayal of the early Cubs that exists no where else. A perfect gift for any Cub fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2007

    'The Cubs' the book, is better than the Cubs, the team!

    If you think you know everything there is to know about the Cubs, you don't - at least not until you have read this remarkable book. From the very beginning to the start of the 2007 season, this book tells the story of the Cubs in a way no other book has ever even tried - as one big story, full of great characters, drama, and, yes, even victory once in a while. I particularly enjoyed the photographs, few of which I had seen before, that span every era of Cubs history. There are also terrific essays by writers like Rick Telander 'who appears in a photograph shirtless in the bleachers at about age twenty!'. If you must have every Cubs book, you must have this one, and if you have only one Cubs book, his is the one to have. Gift shopping made easy. I just the new owner is smart enough to read this and avoid making the same old mistakes!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2007

    On Our Way!

    So the Cubs just won AGAIN and my copy just arrived and I spent the next five hours DEVOURING this book. It's hard to say what the best part is because I started just looking at the pictures, but then I'd start reading and got hooked each time. I thought I knew a lot of Cubs history becasue I've lived a lot of i and read all the boks I could find but I've got to give it to the author. It's probably the best Cubs book yet except the one that ends with a world championship. An absolute must if you love the Cubbies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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