This article was written by Dennis Bingham
This article was published in Road Trips: SABR Convention Journal Articles
This article was originally published in “Baseball in Chicago,” the 1986 SABR convention journal.
You and I embark on a wondrous journey as we are magically whisked away to a long-ago time and place. We stand on the corner of State and Madison. The familiar iron-facade entrance of Carson, Pirie, Scott’s is behind us . . . but the view in front is anything but familiar.
Cable cars, horse-drawn carriages, and crank-operated automobiles entangle themselves on “The World’s Busiest Comer.” We see a wagon ﬁlled with vegetables rumble across, and we watch our step after some plodding hooves pass by on the brick pavement. The attire of the people is fascinating. Men wear high- banded collars and derbies with little brims. Women wear wide ﬂowery hats and muslin skirts that almost sweep the sidewalk.
The date is Monday, October 8, 1906. The day before the ﬁrst intra-city World Series in history and the only one between the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs. Usually on this date the talk of the town is “Chicago Day,” the annual city holiday held in remembrance of the great ﬁre. In fact, tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of that devastating inferno. But a different blaze sweeps the city today—World Series fever.
The entire city is baseball crazy as the Series touches every citizen. Hotels overﬂow with the arrival of people from as far away as Europe and Mexico. A former Chicagoan living in China rushes back to attend the games.
Hundreds of grandmothers are unaware they are about to “die” as children scheme to be excused from school. A church bulletin announces that next Sunday’s sermon will be on “The Moral of the Home Run.” Various social clubs decorate chartered trolley cars and load them with wooden kegs of beer.
The natural habitat of the baseball fan, away from the ballpark, is the tavern, so we ﬁnd ourselves sipping a ﬁve-cent beer with a foot on a brass rail. We discover that few give the White Sox any chance of winning. No team has ever won more games than these Cubs, and no team has ever won with weaker hitters than these Sox. The Cubs right ﬁelder alone has hit as many homers as the entire White Sox team.
We rush to the Auditorium on Michigan Avenue where the National Commission, the supreme court of baseball, has assembled both teams to discuss the rules of the Series. It’s here we get our ﬁrst look at the players, looking out of place in their dapper street clothes and high-buttoned shoes. You nudge me and point out scrawny Johnny Evers, the feisty Cub second baseman with the jaw like Dick Tracy.
There’s no need for travel dates so the best-of-seven series will be played straight through, opening at the Cubs’ West Side Park and alternating every day with the Sox’ South Side Grounds. (The site of the seventh game, if necessary, will be announced at a later time). The reserved seats for both parks have long since been sold, and every day long lines of people will wait for hours to purchase the remaining tickets. World Series tickets can be obtained for $2.00 for box seats, $1.50 for pavilion, $1.00 for grandstand and 50 cents for bleachers—exactly double the regular season prices. Games begin at 2:30, a half-hour earlier than usual, to reduce the chance of the fun being cut short by darkness.
In this era of few player rights, owners Charles Comiskey of the Sox and Charles Murphy of the Cubs do all the talking for their athletes. Murphy boldly announces that his players have decided they should receive souvenir cuff buttons when they win. National League President Harry Pulliam pleads with the players for “clean play” and to refrain from inciting the crowd. “Any player disciplined for misconduct,” he warns, “will have his portion of the prize money reduced by an amount assessed by the umpires!”
One ﬁnal detail we ﬁnd interesting is the depositing of a $10,000 check as a forfeiture should one team fail to complete the Series. Chairman Garry Herrmann ends the meeting with the inevitable, “May the best team win!”
Ordered by their manager to relax, the Sox visit some vaudeville houses. The Cubs, however, head out to their ballpark for two hours of strenuous workouts. We watch, along with about 100 other fans, as rookie sensation Jack Pﬁester tosses batting practice and neighborhood youths, having the time of their lives, shag ﬂies in the outﬁeld. In this day the players conduct their own practices and even take turns coaching the bases during games. At a boarding house operated by an old woman taking advantage of the crowds invading her city, we pay triple the going rate for two rooms. As you fall asleep you realize you’re about to attend a World Series game — and not just any World Series, one of the most remarkable of all time.
GAME ONE: ONE BEARSKIN RUG, or “BRING IN THE CLOWN”
Everywhere we turn we are accosted by ticket scalpers. Two $20 bills get us box seats behind third base. Street hawkers are stationed every few feet and peddle anything and everything that could be made into baseball paraphernalia. Postcards with players’ pictures. Hand-made emblems to be pinned to your coat announcing your team’s loyalty. Paper megaphones, seat cushions, and pennants. Horns striped with colors one vendor insists are the “ofﬁcial” colors of the teams. One unique item is a button, about the size of a half-dollar, printed with a bear wearing white stockings. If the Sox win you are to wear it with the bear on its back and the stockings on top. If the Cubs win, ﬂip it over with the bear on its feet. We enter the park and are escorted to our seats by an usher wearing a white hat.
What amazes us is the heavy and open betting taking place in the stands. We hear wild rumors that either one or both managers have been kidnapped, all designed to affect the odds. It’s said that members of the Board of Trade have made bets of up to $30,000, a staggering amount for any day. Most people wager in ﬁve, 10, and 25 dollar increments — or for a box of cigars. The prevailing odds have the Cubs as 2 to 1 favorites, but some are offering 3 to 1. Nearby, several slicksters smile after coaxing Sox fans to bet heavily on their heroes.
Overcoats, earmuffs, hot water bottles, and ﬂasks are the order of the day. It’s bitterly cold and a misty rain smacks us in the face. Fans seated in the last row of the grandstand stick scorecards in their collars to protect themselves from the icy wind. When snow ﬂurries start to fall, the guy next to us says it’s an omen that the White Sox will win. Despite the weather the crowd’s in good spirits and even begins to sing when a man with a cornet plays “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” a tune from the Spanish-American War fought eight years earlier.
A loud roar rips through the park when the Chicago Cubs walk slowly onto the ﬁeld from their clubhouse in center ﬁeld. Although the vast majority of the crowd is intensely partisan, there’s always the few thousand who cheer for both clubs. One fan, with a waxed black mustache and a curl carefully plastered to one side of his forehead, actually says, “I hope each team wins three games and then it rains for three months so both will be World Champions.” He has the same wimpish look as the modern Chicago fan who wears one of those split hats with the Sox on one side and the Cubs on the other.
Arrangements have been made for the visiting team to dress at the downtown Victoria Hotel and then be driven to the park in horse-drawn carriages. A parade of uniformed athletes is a common sight for the 1906 fan because few stadiums have facilities for either the visiting team or umpires. When the Sox arrive, another cheer shakes the park.
The ﬁeld itself is in excellent shape, one of the ﬁnest in all of baseball and a tribute to Cubs groundskeeper Charlie Kuhn. You point out a common feature of old ballparks—the strip of dirt running from the plate to the mound. There are no dugouts, just two benches on each side of the ﬁeld where bats and other equipment are scattered all about. We keep waiting to see if any player trips on the gear constantly underfoot but none ever do. We believe there had to be at least one player during the long season who pulled a Gary Cooper and went head-over-heels.
The bad weather has made for a disappointing crowd. Red, white and blue bunting peek through several bare sections of the mob. Even if you count the courageous fans standing on the windy rooftops behind the outﬁeld and the newsmen and telegraph operators on the new white benches behind home plate, the total wouldn’t exceed 14,000.
The old press box has been given over to the dignitaries. We see a young pencil-thin Connie Mack and the managerial mastermind Ned Hanlon. There’s the dominating Ban Johnson, founder of the American League. And here comes Cap Anson, who might be called the “Mr. Cub” of the day, entering to an ovation and bowing to the fans.
While the rules are essentially the same as they will be 80 years later, we prepare for a totally different brand of ball than what we’re accustomed. We’re in the heart of the deadball era and the pitchers rule as kings. The ball, without a lively cork-center, doesn’t travel for much distance and loses its shape quickly. Often the same ball is used for innings on end. Foul balls hit into the stands are retrieved by umpires or ushers and put back into play. Before long the ball is scuffed-up to a dark gray color, its cover loosened and covered with dirt and tobacco stains. There’s a ﬂutter of excitement when the crowd learns the identities of the starting pitchers. Three Finger Brown, short on digits but long on talent, will do the honors for the Cubs. We can clearly see Brown’s deformed right hand as he warms up. The farming accident which mangled the hand was a blessing in disguise because it gave Brown the most wicked drop-curve in the business.
The Sox counter with Nick Altrock, a southpaw just coming off his third consecutive 20-game winning season. On games he’s not pitching he can be found coaching ﬁrst base, where his good-natured joking with the fans has made him the team’s most popular player. His antics go well with his clownish face. His large ears, curly Harpo-like hair, wide grin and putty features make it seem as if his head belongs on a ventriloquist’s dummy. The more sarcastic sportswriters refer to him as “Handsome Nick.” But he’s all seriousness on the mound with a crossﬁre delivery and a wide assortment of breaking balls.
A wild surge of betting takes place when a man on the ﬁeld, armed with a large megaphone, makes an announcement. White Sox shortstop George Davis, clean-up hitter and star performer, has a bad back and will not be playing! With the 17-year veteran knocked out of action, the team must move third baseman Lee Tannehill to short and place utility man George Rohe at the hot comer. It’s a severe blow because not only do the Sox lose one of their few good hitters, they weaken one of their strengths— defense on the left side of the inﬁeld.
A loud bell rings at 2:30 signaling the start of the game. The two umpires, Jim Johnstone of the NL behind the plate and his AL counterpart Silk O’Loughlin on the bases, confer with the managers on the ground rules. Husky Cubs skipper Frank Chance leans over and shakes the hand of the wonderfully-named Fielder Jones, the genius who has brought the “Hitless Wonders” to the World Series.
The special ground rules, established because of the crowd lining the outﬁeld, will prove to have a bearing on almost every game. Any ball that bounces into the crowd on fair territory is a triple, a live ball that scoots into the crowd in foul territory is a double. Any ball hit directly into the outﬁeld crowd will be scored as a double and not a home run.
A local club, accompanied by a band, enters the ﬁeld and presents silver loving cups to both teams. As someone makes a speech that nobody hears, we check out the Cubs as they’ll bat in the order, the exact same line-up they will use in every game except for the pitcher’s slot.
In center and leading off is “Circus Solly” Hofman, a superb back-up man playing for the disabled Jimmy Slagle. (The diminutive Slagle, called “The Human Mosquito,” will spend the Series as a base coach.) In left is Jimmy Sheckard, who has boasted he will bat .400 against Sox pitching to make up for not hitting .300 during the season. Right ﬁelder Wildﬁre Schulte, league leader in triples and owner of a riﬂe for a right arm, bats third. First baseman Chance, stolen base champ, and third baseman Harry Steinfeldt, RBI king, provide a strong one-two punch. Skillful shortstop Joe Tinker follows. The bottom three are the kinetic Evers at second; Johnny Kling, often regarded as the best catcher of the decade; and pitcher Brown.
The ﬁrst pitch is a strike and the Cub fans scream their approval. It’s apparent early that this is going to be a ﬁne exhibition of deadball play. There is no score after four complete innings with only one man reaching base.
The rapid retirement of batters gives us time to check out the South Siders around the diamond. At ﬁrst is the incomparable ﬁelder Jiggs Donahue, an excellent base runner and one of only three Sox to bat over .250. Frank Isbell, a member of the Sox ever since the team ﬁrst came into existence, plays an erratic second base. Last year he took over the position when regular Gus Dundon suffered a broken jaw and lost half his teeth when hit with a bat during practice. Despite his ﬁelding, Isbell has kept the spot because his hitting greatly improved after Comiskey himself suggested he use a heavier bat.
Tannehill, a veritable Brooks Robinson at third, can handle it defensively at short but is pathetic at the plate. One of the few things his bat has hit in recent years was Dundon’s face. Catcher Billy Sullivan is also one-dimensional with both a reputation as a ﬁne handler of pitchers and a terrible batter. Rohe is a decent substitute at third. The three outﬁelders, traditionally a strong offensive unit, are merely fair. Patsy Dougherty and little Eddie Hahn play left and right respectively and ﬂank the superb ﬁelder Jones in center.
Let’s get back to the game because it could break open at any time. Top of the ﬁfth, Rohe steps in and immediately drills a liner up the left ﬁeld line. When it hits foul and he’s called back, a Cubs fan behind us snickers. However, the towheaded substitute isn’t discouraged and sends the next pitch to virtually the same spot, only this time fair! Sheckard frantically hustles over but the ball just eludes his mitt and bounces into a pile of lumber left by a construction crew. Rohe is awarded a triple.
Dougherty enters the box with hopes of hitting a sacrifice ﬂy, takes a mighty cut but merely taps a dribbler to the third base side of the mound. Brown is off quickly, makes a nice play and tosses home as Rohe comes charging in from third. The runner is a dead duck—but wait—the ball hits the catcher’s mitt and trickles away. The Cub fans let loose with a single low groan. Kling has made a classic Little League mistake by attempting to tag the runner before having possession of the ball.
The following inning, Evers pulls a cute trick by blufﬁng he can catch a liner, causing Altrock to hesitate around third base. A second later Hofman’s throw has the slow-footed Nick nailed at the plate. But Jones takes second on the play, reaches third when Kling lets another ball get away, and scores the second Sox run on a single by Isbell. As Chance walks to the mound to steady his ace, the Sox fans chant “one . . . two”, “one . . . two!” It’s a popular custom to chant the number of your team’s runs to unnerve the opposition.
Brown shuts down the Sox for the remainder of the game, but it’s obvious he’s ﬂustered and is probably thinking about the sudden impotence of his teammates’ bats. In the seventh, Dougherty steals second while Brown holds the ball on the mound! Altrock also mows down his enemies, once being helped by a dazzling catch of a liner by Rohe.
With one out away from losing the ﬁrst game of the Series, the Cub fans are troubled. They’re not used to praying for ninth inning rallies. Steinfeldt sends a towering ﬂy to left-center. Jones, his smile visible from the stands, spreads his hands in joy and clasps them around the ball just before it hits him in the noggin. The player-manager then dances a little jig.
David has defeated Goliath by a score of 2 to 1, the odds the Cub fans have offered all week.
Suddenly, we’re shoved to the ground. First scores, then hundreds and ﬁnally thousands of fans rush onto the ﬁeld, a swirling mass of humanity. Their target? The White Sox, of course. Several hoist Altrock on their shoulders. Dozens of police ofﬁcers come to the rescue and hustle the pitcher, Rohe and Jones outside but several players fail to escape and are carried to the carriages. As the cops clear a path, we can see the Cubs looking down on the scene from the windows of their clubhouse. They’re stunned by the defeat but remain conﬁdent. Chance holds a pep talk and emerges saying, “We will win the next four!”
The Chicago Tribune, which this season has never called the National League champs by the nickname “Cubs” but rather “Spuds” in honor of their Irish owner, runs a headline reading: “Mashed Potatoes!” Another paper, which this year has dubbed the team “The Killers,” refers to them by the same name even in defeat. While the loss is a shock, many view it merely as a minor setback.
GAME TWO: UNRAVELED WHITE SOX, or “A-ONE AND A-TWO”
A long wait in the ticket line rewards us with two seats in the left- ﬁeld bleachers. Several fans bring canvas chairs and box lunches for the vigil. The wooden park is similar to that used by the Cubs except this one has a smaller capacity and some walk-in roofed dugouts. The ﬁeld itself, however, is another story. The Cubs ﬁeld can be compared to a ﬁne pool table, the Sox play on one that is hilly, spongy and often dotted with puddles. Some baseball men claim that a few of the Sox (Davis, Donahue, Jones) would be among the league’s best hitters if only they played on another ﬁeld.
With our teeth chattering, we order some hot sasparilla from a vendor. It’s even colder than yesterday. Many fans are better prepared this time with fur coats, horse blankets and bedroom quilts. One fan isn’t content with a knee-length overcoat, he has newspapers wrapped around his legs. “The wind is keen enough to cut your hair, sonny,” says one old gent.
The Sox are slow going out to practice, choosing to stay near the clubhouse heater. When they do emerge a loud ovation greets Altrock and Rohe, heroes of yesterday’s battle. Ironically, both players share the same birthday (Rohe is a year older) and both played together as kids on the streets of Cincinnati.
Dozens of fans lining Chicago streets razz the Cubs as they make their way to the park by carriage. A few shut up when they see the ﬁerce look in their eyes. Tall, graceful Ed Reulbach, the year’s leader in winning percentage, is on the mound for the Cubs. Doc White, the little lefty with surprising endurance, is on the hill for the Sox. Both have great control with the former possessing vast speed and White the owner of a wondrous curve.
As White gets ready to deliver the ﬁrst pitch, we look at the scene at home plate and are reminded how different the game will become. The catcher doesn’t get into a squat but remains almost completely upright with his knees slightly bent. He stands farther back from the batter than his modem counterpart. Shin guards won’t be publicly introduced until next year, which leaves his legs unprotected. His face is covered with an unpadded thin wire mask, not unlike a bird cage, and his throat is exposed as the ﬂat chest protector hangs loosely around his neck.
The umpire behind him stands erect and wears a similar mask and protector. A small whisk broom is in his back pocket and he holds an indicator. Just two years earlier, the umpires used a long- handled broom to clean the plate before tossing it aside. When a Chicago Cub named Jack McCarthy injured his ankle by stepping on one as he rounded third, the umps were ordered to use the whisk broom. And just recently the umpires took control of the game balls from the home team to prevent the balls from being doctored.
During the game there are several interruptions but the game still takes less than two hours. (The pitchers don’t seem to scratch, stare and stall as much as they do in modern times.) In the bottom of the ﬁrst, Fielder Jones is at bat and a pitch has already been delivered when his team charges from the dugout to the plate. They present their manager with a set of silver in a beautiful case, a speech is made and Jones stands there humbly with his cap in hand—all taking place while the game is in progress.
But that’s the last of the cheering for the Sox supporters. The game itself proves to be an intriguing, complex (and for the Sox fans) frustrating contest. Although the Cubs are victorious by a convincing score of 7 to 1, the Sox could have won it (or at least made it more interesting) had they not booted the game away and were more patient at the plate.
The fact that Reulbach came within one ground ball of pitching a World Series no-hitter would indicate that he was in total command, but this was not the case. He had his catcher jumping all over the plate with his lack of control. He walked six (four to start an inning), made a wild pitch, hit a batter and would have walked half a dozen more if the Sox weren’t swinging at pitches four inches off the plate.
For all practical purposes, the game was put to bed in the ﬁrst 15 minutes. In the top of the second, with one out and men on ﬁrst and second, Evers grounded weakly to Isbell. Instead of getting the sure out at ﬁrst, Issy thinks he’s Napoleon Lajoie and ﬂips the ball backwards towards second. “Towards second” may be an exaggeration. The ball doesn’t even come close and before the left ﬁelder can run it down, one Cub has dented the plate and two are in scoring position. The error leads to three unearned runs.
In the next inning, another unearned run is scored by the Cubs on a wild throw into center by Sullivan. White, the league’s leader in earned run average, leaves in disgust after three innings. But credit must also go to the Cubs. Bold base running, solid hits up the middle, three vicious liners to left by Steinfeldt, a beautiful squeeze bunt by Reulbach, a hit-and-run, several stolen bases including a double steal, and their specialty, the hard bunt between inﬁelders for singles, are executed—all elements that helped compile their astounding 116 wins.
While the Cub batters provide the offensive punch, Reulbach continues to do his job. In the seventh, with a two-strike count, Donahue hits a grounder up the middle and into center for the ﬁrst and only White Sox hit. However, while the ofﬁcial records have Reulbach pitching a one-hitter, there was some confusion about it at the time.
Earlier in the game Jones hit a hard smash to right, Evers scooted over, and the ball bounced off his foot and into the crowd for a ground-rule double. At least most of the fans thought it was a double. Several newspapers did also and reported the game as a two-hitter. Only one paper had it as an one-hitter and even then questioned the judgment of awarding a hit on such a hot smash. A week later newspapers still report it as a two-hitter in their composite box score.
At the time of Jones’ smash there was no discussion of its status because the game was only in the fourth inning. There are no modem scoreboards that ﬂash the big “E” or “H” to assist the fans. And nobody jeered Evers for his “error” because most assumed it was a hit. It would be interesting to look at the ofﬁcial scorecard sent to the National Commission for any clues that might indicate that the scorers, A. J. Flanner and the great Frank Richter, had originally scored it as a hit but later changed it as Reulbach continued his masterpiece. We don’t know. You and I couldn’t get seats in the press box, we were out in left ﬁeld.
With the lopsided score and bitter weather, half of the crowd had left the park by the ninth inning, and we’re talking World Series game here, folks. It was cold! During a lull while the Sox were at bat, Sheckard and Hofman chased each other around the outﬁeld playing tag in an effort to keep warm. Overcoats were worn on the bench and a few players of both teams would voice their complaints that the games should not have been played in such terrible weather. They were expecting crowds of nearly twice the size and are concerned because they share only in the receipts of the ﬁrst four games.
There wasn’t the wild fan demonstration of the ﬁrst game although a small crowd did rush to congratulate Chance and his men and escorted them to their carriages. The Series is now simply tied at one game apiece—and these are the Cubs, they’re expected to win. Murphy, with a big grin, says, “We have just started. Watch our smoke!”
GAME THREE: EXPECTORATED RESULTS, or “LIGHTNING CAN STRIKE TWICE”
As we head out to Polk and Lincoln (now Wolcott) for game three, we pass nearby Cook County Hospital, where doctors claim the excitement over the Series by patients is proving to be excellent therapy. We manage to get tickets for seats on the benches lining left ﬁeld.
We note the special old-time charm of the uniforms. The heavy ﬂannel knickers, bunched just below the knees, and blousy shirts are indeed baggy but not as much as they were at the start of the season. On Opening Day the players wore outrageously large outﬁts to compensate for the high shrinkage that occurs during washing.
Just before the game is to begin you point out a man rushing across the ﬁeld. He reaches center, takes something from under his overcoat and then quickly disappears back into the crowd. The sound of laughter grows until it virtually rocks the wooden grandstands. There, in the middle of the outﬁeld, sits a live hen wearing white stockings on both of its taloned feet. The Cub fans believe it’s an appropriate symbol for the South Siders. The Sox fans hope the bird lays some goose eggs for their rivals. In any case, it’s probably the only instance of a fowl in fair territory.
Throughout the entire game the bird sits in the outﬁeld, occasionally dodging pop bottles thrown by fans and scooting out of the way of spiked shoes that come dangerously close. But on the whole it just sits comfortably and watches the action. The fat hen seems to prefer the company of White Sox right ﬁelder Eddie Hahn, which proves the bird isn’t a dumb cluck after all because, you see, “hahn” in German means chicken.
The bird provides some comic relief in a game featuring two pitchers locked in a ﬁerce conﬂict. One of our greatest pleasures this entire trip is seeing the legendary Big Ed Walsh in person. When he ﬁrst saunters out to the mound, we’re immediately impressed. The 25-year-old right hander with the jet-black hair commands the attention of everyone—fans, rivals, teammates, umpires—with his cocky, conﬁdent walk.
The youngest of 13 children born to Irish immigrants, Walsh has been the pitching sensation of the year. Basically a second- rate pitcher before, he came on to record 10 shutouts and win 17 with a 1.88 ERA.
The spitball (which like the word “baseball” is often spelled as two words in these days) is perfectly legal. While many fans think of it as basically an unhittable trick pitch, it requires true talent to keep the wet sphere under control, and a steady diet of the pitch won’t fool many major leaguers for long. Walsh supplements his spitter with a sweeping curve and a swift fastball.
Prior to the game you saw Walsh reach into his pocket for a tablet made from the bark of the slippery elm tree. Mixing it with chewing gum, he put it into his mouth to provide the substance with which he’ll moisten the ball. Now as he faces the enemy, Walsh holds his glove directly in front of his face before each and every pitch. Sometimes he spits, sometimes he doesn’t in the constant battle to keep the batter guessing. (In later years, Eddie Collins and Ty Cobb would both have an edge after independently noticing that when Big Ed spat, his temples would move causing his cap to wiggle slightly, thus signalling a spitter was on the way.)
Walsh is simply a master. During the entire season, nobody slapped around the Cubs the way Walsh did today. In all, 12 Cubs would strike out. A few such as Tinker rush forward in the box in an attempt to hit the spitter before it breaks, only to be fooled by a curve instead. Frustrated, several try to bunt the infernal pitch but are also thwarted.
In the meantime, 28-year-old rookie Pﬁester keeps his Cubs in the game with a ﬁne pitching performance. He has made a name for himself this year, like his mound opponent, with a 19-9 record and 1.56 ERA.
White Sox fans are anxious for their team to score a run for Walsh and are surprised their heroes haven’t been bunting against the weak-ﬁelding Pﬁester.
But then the sixth inning arrives, a historic one that would live long in the memories of the 1906 White Sox fan. Tannehill opens it by surprising the Cubs with a quick grounder that just tips Steinfeldt’s glove for a single. Walsh follows with a walk. With two men on and no outs, Pﬁester ﬁres a high fastball to the next batter. Hahn attempts to dodge the pellet by falling backwards but it’s too late. The ball smacks him squarely in the face, shattering his nose and spraying blood on the white plate. He drops the bat, raises his hands to his face and collapses.
The umpire grabs his megaphone and shouts, “Is there a doctor in the house?” We take up the call with the other fans in the stands until a man in a dark suit runs down an aisle and onto the ﬁeld. A Dr. Slattery of Dubuque, Iowa has come to the rescue and attends to Hahn. We don’t believe it. These are two champions engaging in the World Series! Don’t they have any medical personnel on hand? We learn that the team trainers of the day have little, if any, medical training and are primarily there to rub down aching muscles. There’s no team physician.
As Hahn is taken off the ﬁeld, Bill O’Neill trots to ﬁrst as the pinch runner. Bases loaded, no outs, Walsh in top form; it doesn’t look too good for the Cubbies. But Kling retires Jones on an outstanding catch of a foul ﬂy and Isbell makes it two outs by fanning.
Rohe, the substitute who shook the town with his triple in game one, steps in and stares back at the pitcher. In his last at- bat he thought he had a hit but was foiled by a nice play by Evers. The thought runs through Rohe’s mind that the rookie southpaw might very well throw him the same pitch, a pitch the utility man knows he can handle.
The rookie winds up and delivers—and there it is, the same pitch, a straight fastball inside and just above the knees! Right ﬁelder Sheckard sees Rohe turn on the ball and immediately starts for the foul line. The blond connects and the ball travels to within inches of the same spot as his game-one winning triple, just inside the foul line. The ball once again skips past Sheckard and rolls into the seats. The bases are cleared and the Sox lead 3-0. Rohe arrives at third base and is met by a committee of his teammates, who slap him on the back. Later, Rohe will tell reporters with a straight face, “I’m just glad the foul line on the West Side Grounds is located where it is!”
With the help of a spitter and a hitter, the little kid on the block has given another black eye to the big bully. A happy mob of Sox fanatics put on another exhibition by attacking their idols. It takes the intervention of police ofﬁcers to prevent a couple of fans from removing the horses from the Sox carriage and pulling the players to the hotel themselves.
Comiskey, standing in an open automobile waving two White Sox pennants, announces, “Whatever George Rohe may do from now on, he’s signed for life with me!” (Nice try, Chuck. Rohe would be a semi-regular at third the next year, be released at the end of the season and never again play a major league game.)
GAME FOUR: INSIDE BASEBALL, or “THE FICKLE THREE-FINGER OF FATE”
Out in San Francisco, only a few months after its destructive earthquake, a woman by the name of Mrs. Cronin is giving birth to a chubby baby boy who will be named Joseph. Before we walk to the ballpark, we send a note of congratulations to the Cronin family on the arrival of the future Hall of Fame shortstop.
We arrive at South Side Grounds an hour before game time and realize we have made a big mistake. A large crowd surrounds the wooden park as Wentworth Avenue streetcars continue to arrive with people hanging on handrails and windows and riding on roofs. Thousands are being turned away at the gate and we’re among the unfortunate.
How are we going to see the Series? Obviously, there’s no radio or TV broadcast. Sales girls of large downtown stores have devised an ingenious way to relay play-by play accounts between themselves, but that doesn’t help us.
You then remember that the Chicago Tribune is sponsoring “an accurate reproduction” of the games at two locations. We rush to the Auditorium, purchase two tickets and enter the large hall. The audience munches on Cracker Jack and waves pennants as they await the ﬁrst pitch. Vendors selling hot dogs walk up and down the aisles. Unable to ﬁnd two empty seats next to each other, we are separated by a fat gentleman who refuses to move over one space.
With a little imagination we actually feel as if we are at the ballpark. On the stage is a 20-foot square scoreboard displaying a baseball diamond with a glass window for each base. When the lead-off man steps up to bat, the No. 1 appears in the home plate window. If he makes a hit, the number appears at ﬁrst base and a No. 2 is displayed at home. The progress of the runners is thus easily followed by the audience.
Information is transmitted by wire to the hall an instant after there is any action at the ballpark. Tribune “experts” with megaphones announce the play-by-play as each inning, out, run, and ball-and-strike count are recorded on the board. With each play the crowd responds with shouts, screams and suggestions just as if they were at the ballpark.
A look around the hall reminds us that we rarely see a Chicago citizen dressed informally. Whether it’s at a family picnic, at the theater or out at the ballpark, everyone gets decked out in their ﬁnest clothes. Three-piece suits, ﬁne dresses, spats, top hats, stickpins, sharp porkpie hats and celluloid collars are all about.
There are plenty of beards and mustaches but only among the older generation. The safety razor, invented a decade earlier by King Gillette, with its comfortable shave has grown in popularity and is a huge success by 1906. Davis, the oldest member of both clubs, has been a clean-shaven clean-up man for years. And now with Monte Cross recently shedding his whiskers, the only major leaguers still sporting handlebar mustaches are John Titus and Old Eagle Eye Jake Beckley.
While we wait for the game to begin we try to have a little fun with the man sitting between us. You mention that some day there will be a player known as the designated hitter who will bat for the pitcher. The guy doesn’t even blink. “Are they bringing that up again?” he asks and tells us the topic has been discussed at length in the previous decade.
The baseball fan of 1906 is quite used to continual, and often radical, rule changes in the game he loves. Just in the past ﬁve years he’s seen the introduction of the foul strike rule and the shape of home plate changed.
Prior to the game, members of the Board of Trade attempt to inspire the Cubs by leading two one-year-old black bear cubs by chains around the bases. The game itself features a match between the two “Big Eds”—Reulbach and Walsh, both outstanding in their last outings. The Cub fans around us are stunned when the South Siders take a four-run lead in the fourth inning.
In the box seats we can’t miss a hatless white-haired judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis arguing with a group of Sox fans and wishing he could throw the book at them. Landis has spent a great deal of the summer away from the bench and at the old ballpark watching his beloved Cubbies. A vociferous rooter, Landis will say at the end of the game, “How the hell did they do it?”
For the South Siders, their 8 to 6 victory was accomplished in a unique way. Defensively they played sloppily but their hitting, of all things, overcame their ﬁelding mistakes. The “hitless” ones smash 12 hits, eight of which were for two bases, including one by Davis that might have gone for a home run had it not been for the overﬂow crowd. The good luck charms failed to do the trick for the Cubs while the only charms the White Sox needed were their bats and the presence of their ofﬁcial mascot on the bench—Cecil, Manager Jones’ young son. It’s Saturday and the boy was out of school.
Song-and-dance man George M. Cohan sent his stage manager to present expensive diamond watch fobs to both Chance and Jones. The managers accept them graciously but their minds are on the big game tomorrow. It’s do-or-die for the Cubs while the White Sox are within one game of becoming World Champions.
GAME FIVE: A RIOT, A REGULAR RIOT, or “MA, I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD!”
At two o’clock in the morning we join a few other fans at the ticket window. To kill the time we pick up an early Sunday paper and read a feature article about an actual person—sane, allowed to vote and a respected citizen—who has never heard of baseball or the World Series. By seven o’clock the assembly has grown to approximately 200 people. Three hours later the mob begins to get uncontrollable. It increases with the arrival of every streetcar, elevated train, automobile, carriage and bicycle.
Comiskey has ordered additional police to arrive at 11:30, expecting the majority of the fans to arrive then. It’s now 10:45. The mob begins demanding entry into the park but are told that the gates won’t open until noon. A loudmouthed galoot next to us yells, “Tear down the fence!” The crowd, made bold by the lack of police, takes it as a command. A portion of the fence comes down with a crash just as we see a dozen police ofﬁcers come charging around from 39th Street. Seconds later, another portion collapses at the other side of the gate. A large segment of the crowd rushes toward the open sections, into the park and toward some choice seats.
One ofﬁcer is injured by splinters from the broken fence. We help carry to safety two women who have fainted. Under the feet of rushing fans, we hear the crunch of a broken arm. The ofﬁcers, about 50 strong now, resort to the use of clubs to push back the frenzied throng. Order isn’t maintained until the arrival of several more ofﬁcers from surrounding precincts.
Cops collar many of the free-loaders who had run into the park, but it’s estimated about 500 will watch the game free of charge after hiding under benches. To appease the mob the gates are opened an hour early. The mass pours in and, although quite intimidating, is a happy crowd and not unruly. Despite the chaos, we manage to get a good location in the third row of the overﬂow crowd in right-center ﬁeld.
By 12:30 the gates are closed and no more tickets will be sold. Although in most sections of the park every crevice is ﬁlled by a fan, we can still see several bare benches in the outﬁeld. The confusion has prevented a few thousand more fans from entering the park and witnessing the game. As it is the crowd encroaches as far into the playing ﬁeld as police will permit, all the way around the outﬁeld up both sides to behind home plate.
Those who thought they had arrived in plenty of time, two hours before the scheduled ﬁrst pitch, remain outside and feel betrayed. The owners of reserved tickets have to ﬁght through the sea of faces to get to the gate. As they make their way, onlookers almost drool at the precious piece of pasteboard in their hands. “Hey buddy, ﬁve bucks for that seat,” yells one guy. The lucky owner shouts back, “Are you solid ivory or something? I wouldn’t sell it for $100!”
All ﬂat rooftops behind the outﬁeld are packed with people. On top of a school, a quarter of a mile away, stands a group watching through binoculars. One man crawls onto the steeple of St. George’s Catholic Church and clings to the eaves until the eighth inning. Many suits are ruined by fans sitting on chimney tops, a popular vantage point. Every telegraph pole in the immediate area is spotted with human sparrows. A few who watch the entire game from this position jump to the ground only to ﬁnd they can’t walk on cramped legs. A few fans watch the game between the poles by perilously standing on wires and maintain their balance clutching another wire above their heads. A black gentleman, watching the action from a tall pole, will deliver an eloquent account of the game to people below. When he ﬁnally comes down from his perch, he’ll discover the appreciative fans have taken up a collection for him.
Having now attended ﬁve ball games in this long-ago day, we can conﬁrm that the fans of 1906 are more vocal and noisier than their descendants. Every fan seems to carry some sort of noisemaker—clappers, cow bells, tin horns, gongs with potato mashers, whistles and cymbals. But a man roaming around the park here today takes the cake. Wearing a white stocking over his head, he operates an air-powered siren that emits an ear-piercing wail. To add to the racket, a band comprised of trombones, French horns and a snare drum plays tunes between innings.
The game bell rings at a little after two o’clock, almost a half-hour earlier than planned. The umpires see the maddening hordes getting overly anxious for the game’s start and instruct the managers to ﬁnish their warm-ups early. Evers doesn’t mind. It’s a habit with* him when hitting good in batting practice to cut it short to save some hits for the ball game. It’s a match between the ace of each club. Chance is going with Brown, despite the fact the three-ﬁngered one has had only a single day’s rest after his sparkling two-hit complete game. And Jones answers with White, just coming off three innings of relief work yesterday. As the game gets under way, an engineer of the Rock Island Railroad, whose tracks overlook the park, slows down his train to catch some of the contest.
The Cubs score a quick run and their fans start talking about a seventh game. White escapes the inning by virtue of his ﬁne ﬁelding.
In the Sox half of the ﬁrst, to the amazement of even their most ardent supporters, the South Siders emerge with sizzling bats and bombard Brown with four hits to take a 3-1 lead. A question of interference mars the performance, but what’s a World Series without at least one juicy controversy?
With two men on, Davis hits a deep drive directly at us! Schulte, whose loping style of running is deceptive because he has good speed, moves quickly back to the crowd. Sox fans attempt to rattle the outﬁelder with their noisemakers. As the ball draws closer, we are pushed back by the fans in front. Schulte suddenly stumbles and falls to the ground as the ball sails over our heads and hits some fan farther back. Chance looks like a madman as he storms over to Umpire O’Loughlin. Schulte then joins the argument, claiming that somebody had tripped him and that interference should be called. One report has a Sox fan committing the crime, but Schulte points out a police ofﬁcer at the edge of the crowd as the culprit. The ump listens to as much as he can stand before ordering resumption of play.
We ask one fan, who was in a position to see the entire incident, what had happened. The man, proclaiming himself as a dyed-in-the-wool Cubs fan, says it was simply a master bluff by Chance (quickly supported by Schulte) that had failed. Nice try but no cigar. “I’ll wager a suit of clothes against a ham sandwich that Schulte will now admit that no one touched him,” he says. The fan also says that had someone interfered, the offender would have had to contend with him.
The following frame, the South Siders continue their assault and score four more runs, all after two outs with Sullivan making the ﬁrst and last out. The Sox feast on new baseballs as the spectators throw the day’s ethics out the window and keep the balls as special World Series souvenirs. The ushers and security personnel have a tough time trying to identify the transgressors. Brown doesn’t even make it to the end of the inning.
Meanwhile, White, an off-season dentist with his ofﬁce within sight of Teddy Roosevelt’s White House, doesn’t exactly leave the Cubs toothless, but then again he doesn’t have to. With the rare luxury of a nice cushion, the good doctor coasts to his victory by scattering seven hits, walking four and allowing three runs. The Sox fans are giddy with joy as the game drags on, aware that it’s merely a matter of time before their team is on top of the baseball world.
The top of the ninth arrives and the Cubs are six runs down. The West Siders score a run and then load the bases with two outs and Schulte at the plate. The unlikelihood of a grand slam would bring them within one run. While the game’s outcome was apparent more than an hour ago, at least the Cubs are making it interesting and are going down with a ﬁght. The ever alert Donahue jiggles his feet around the ﬁrst base bag, as White delivers. Donahue snares a grounder, steps on the bag, certifying the Chicago White Sox as the World’s Champions. The crowd, which has been restrained with great difficulty the last inning, charges onto the ﬁeld.
The White Sox players are well prepared and have charted their escape routes perfectly. They quickly make it to safety with only a few losing their caps to the excited fans. Jones displays his speed by hustling his wife and son away from the mob in an instant. Although their heroes have departed, the fans refuse to leave the park and hold a party that lasts for hours. They rush to the boxes containing the wives and sweethearts of the White Sox players and sing, drink, dance and proclaim toasts with them into the evening.
Debates begin in West Side taverns as to what had caused the great Cubs to crumble during the most important series of the year. Some blame Chance for not pitching Carl Lundgren or Jack Taylor in place of Brown in the last game. Others pin the blame on the collapse of the hitters, such as Sheckard, the man who boasted he would bat .400 but failed to get a hit in 21 at-bats. Tavern hoppers on the South Side have several heroes from which to choose from, but if the World Series MVP Award existed in 1906, George Rohe would be the one driving a new car.
Celebrations are being held in every section of the city and would continue well into the night and next morning.One poor man arrived in town late, had not heard the news and assumed the Cubs had won. When he talked at length about how the Cubs would take the championship by winning game seven, he was ﬁnally attacked by a group of West Side fans. Another fan pinned black crepe on the doors of Cub headquarters and the gates to West Side Park.
We hear about an insane bet between a pair of Cub fans and two Sox supporters. The two losers would play the part of horses and pull the two winners in a buggy up Milwaukee Avenue from North to Chicago Avenues and back again. If the Sox fans had lost they would pull the buggy wearing only white stockings on their feet, while the losing Cub fans would perform the chore in their “bare” feet. The Sox fans were now demanding payment! When the two sorry Cub fans arrived at the take-off point, they found the winners in a buggy decorated with white stockings and the entire route lined with torches and friends of the Sox fans. The losers complied with the deal but on the return trip, with their feet aching with sores, ﬁgured it wasn’t against the rules if they hitched a ride. So around Division Street they jumped on the back of a passing streetcar while still holding onto the buggy. A couple hundred feet later the fun ended when the buggy wheel caught in the cable slot, throwing the Sox fans to the brick pavement and pulling the Cub fans from the streetcar. All four gamblers suffered severe injuries.
As for us, we join a group that marches down 35th Street on the way to Fielder Jones’ home. A huge bonﬁre on Cottage Grove blocks trafﬁc, requiring the arrival of ﬁremen to put out the blaze. Our group increases in size with each block as people learn we are heading for the home of the resident genius of Chicago. When we pass an intersection, a fan spots George Davis eating his dinner in a corner restaurant. Several members of the mob rush in, slap him on the back in congratulations and hustle him outside. Before he knows what hit him and his mouth still full of food, the star shortstop is being carried bodily over the heads of the ecstatic fans to the Jones house.
When they arrive at their destination the fans go berserk. Jones’ dinner guest is none other than pitcher Doc White! The three players satisfy their adoring fans with tales of the Series before White suggests we visit Rohe at the Hotel Hayden. The mob continues its trek up the street, and by the time it reaches its goal nearly every resident of the neighborhood has joined the party. The crazed fans chant the World Series hero’s name until he appears at a second-story window. As the people worship from the street as if the blond utility player were some god, Rohe tosses rolled-up white stockings as relics to his admirers below.
The crowd then decides to continue its all-night celebration at nearby White City Amusement Park with its two dance ﬂoors and roller skating rink. Standing in the middle of the street, we hear their shouts become more and more faint as we watch the happy mob disappear in the distance.
We must now return to our time. We’re comforted to know we take with us some special World Series memories.