Cubs Sang September Song in ’35

This article was written by Whitney Bacon

This article was published in the 1978 Baseball Research Journal


The 1935 Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant with one of the great stretch runs in baseball history. From September 4 through 27 the Cubs won 21 games in a row.

The Cubs returned from a road trip to open a 20-game home stand with a doubleheader with Cincinnati on Labor Day, September 2.  The first game was won by the Cubs but the Reds took the second.  On the morning of September 3, an off day, the Cubs, led by Manager Charlie Grimm, were in third place with 79 wins and 52 losses. The New York Giants held second with a 76-48 record and the St. Louis Cardinals led the race with a 79-47 W/L mark.

The consecutive win streak started modestly enough when Larry French, classy southpaw, breezed to an 8-2 victory over Philadelphia. Thereafter followed a phenomenal run of superior pitching by the Cubs’ staff; 19 of the 21 wins were route-going performances. The foursome of French, Charlie Root, Lon Warneke, and Bill Lee methodically mowed down the opposition. These four accounted for all the starting assignments except one by Tex Carleton and two by the diminutive lefty, Roy Henshaw.

On September 5 and 6 Root and Warneke won 3-2 squeakers over the Phils in 11 and 10 innings, respectively. Lee then shut out Philadelphia the next day, 4-0, enabling the Cubs to move ahead of the Giants into second place.

Boston was next to visit Chicago but rain delayed the opener. A twin bill was scheduled for September 9. Carleton and French each went the distance, winning by 5-1 and 2-1 margins. Root blanked the Braves the following day to close out the series.

Brooklyn arrived for a block of five games on the 11th and was rudely received; the Cubs and Lee crushed the Dodgers 15-3 and, next day, Warneke and company almost duplicated that with a 13-3 thrashing. On the 13th it was French, 4-1.

After 10 successive complete games, Root started against the Dodgers on the 14th but it was a wild affair in which Charlie needed help from Fabian Kowalik and Henshaw. The Cubs prevailed in an 18-14 contest and Root was credited with the win which vaulted them into first when New York defeated the league-leading Cardinals in 11 innings. Lee finished the Brooklyn series with a routine 6-3 win the next day.

The New York Giants, still very much alive in the pennant chase, came to town for four games September 16 through 19. The Cubs deflated their hopes with victories by margins of 8-3, 5-3, 15-3, and 6-1 behind nine-inning performances by Warneke, French, Root, and Lee.

The Cubs had now racked up 16 straight wins and welcomed a day off on Friday, September 20. Roy Henshaw was Manager Grimm’s selection to welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to Wrigley Field on the 21st. He was a winner, 4-3, although he did need Warneke’s help to protect the lead.

French blanked the Pirates 2-0 as the Cubs closed their final home stand with consecutive win #18. He won five complete games in the streak, giving up only five runs.

Schedule makers decreed off days on September 23 and 24.  The final series of the season found the Cubs in St. Louis for five games; the pennant race by this time had been reduced to these two.  On the morning of the series opener on September 25 the Chicago club had a three-game lead with a 97-52 record; St. Louis stood at 94-55. Young Phil Cavarretta’s second inning homer onto the roof of the right field pavilion was the decisive hit in a sparkling 1-0 duel between Warneke and Paul Dean.

Rain fell the next day which made necessary a double-header for September 26. In the opener of that twin bill Lee faced Dizzy Dean, and sloppy defense by Chicago gave the Cardinals two runs in the first inning. Lee then settled down and held the Cards without a run the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Chicago launched a 15-hit attack on a worn-out pitcher and won, 6-2; Diz had started 36 games and relieved in 14 others during the season. With that game the Cubs had won the 20th of their consecutive string and had nailed down the National League flag. In game two Henshaw went all the way for a 5-3 victory and, of course, #21 in a row. 

Chicago almost added to its win streak the next day; the Cubs forced the game to the 11th inning before surrendering, 7-5. St. Louis also won the last game of the season, 2-1. The final standing was:

  • Chicago: 100-54
  • St. Louis: 96-58
  • New York: 91-62 

Lest this account suggest that the dramatic win skein was accomplished exclusively by pitchers, the Cubs did need the efforts of their potent hitting and excellent defense. Gabby Hartnett caught most of the games and led the club in hitting with .344. Of the regular infield, Billy Herman at second and third baseman Stan Hack hit .341 and .311, respectively. Cavarretta (lB) finished with .275 and Billy Jurges (SS) had .241. While Chuck Klein had started the season in right field, his failure to deliver as expected caused Grimm to bench him. The outfield during September found Augie Galan .314 in left, Fred Lindstrom .274 in center, and Frank Demaree .325 in right. Galan was the big gun during the streak with five homers and 22 runs batted in. Lindstrom had the second highest RBI total, 18.

Twenty-one victories in a row is the second-best record in the majors, topped only by the 26 registered by the New York Giants in September of 1916. That record is somewhat tainted because after New York had won 12 straight, the Pirates played them to a 1-1 tie that had to be called because of darkness. All 26 were played at the Polo Grounds, home of the Giants. Strangely, the New York club also strung together 17 in a row earlier in that same season and yet the Giants could do no better than fourth place. Exactly half of their 86 games won that year were the result of those two long runs of victories.

By an odd coincidence, Cap Anson’s Chicago team of 1880 also won 21 in a row during June and early July and his team also won the N.L. championship. But, a tie game between win #1 and win #2 placed a blemish on that accomplishment also.

Because the 1935 Cubs won their 21 successive games in 21 consecutive outings, and because that effort actually was necessary to win the pennant, it would be no exaggeration to state that theirs was the most dramatic consecutive win streak in major league history.

There follows a summary of the 21-game win streak.

 

Sep.

Pitcher(s)

Chicago

Opponents

 Score

 

4

French

8

Philadelphia

2

 

5

Root

3

2

(11 innings)

6

Warneke

3

2

(10 innings)

7

Lee

4

0

(Take 2nd place)

8

Chicago-Boston rained out.

       

9

Carleton

5

Boston

   

9

French

2

   

10

Root

4

1

 

11

Lee

15

Brooklyn

3

 

12

Warneke

13

3

 

13

French

4

   

14

Root (WP)

18

14

(Take 1st place)

 

Henshaw

       
 

Kowalik

       

15

Lee

6

3

 

16

Warneke

8

New York

3

 

17

French

5

3

 

18

Root

15

3

 

19

Lee

6

1

 

20

No game scheduled

       

21

Henshaw (WP)

4

Pittsburgh

3

 
 

Warneke

       

22

French

2

0

 

23

No game scheduled

       

24

No game scheduled

       

25

Warneke

1

St. Louis

0

(Cavvy home run)

26

Chicago at St. Louis rained out.

       

27

Lee

6

St. Louis

2

(Cubs clinch flag)

27

Henshaw

5

3

 

(Victory #21)

 

*Assisted by Emil Rothe

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