Crazy Eights

With tomorrow being the first day of 2008, the mainstream media will undoubtedly begin reminding the Faithful, on seemingly a daily basis, why this year is significant to the Chicago Cubs. While many organizations celebrate such anniversaries, it is safe to say there probably will not be any references to the accomplishment from a century ago by the organization.

The Cubs are coming off a successful year and should compete for a spot in the post season once again. Jim Hendry reportedly is still looking for ways to improve his roster before spring training starts in less than six weeks. Lou Piniella’s crew has the pieces in place to make the playoffs for the first time in back-to-back seasons since ’07 and ’08.

Carol Slezak made the early prediction the Cubs would face the Red Sox in next year’s fall classic, a rematch of a World Series from 90 years ago. Mike Nadel recently mentioned the significance of 1908 as it relates to the Cubs and other anniversaries that will take place in the New Year.

Here is a look at those years that ended in eight and how those Cubs’ teams faired….

1908

Cubs Beat the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 1, to win the 1908 World Series. Click on the below links for a recap of each game….

1918

The Cubs lost to the Boston Red Sox in the 1918 World Series, 4 games to 2. It took the Boston Red Sox until 2004 to win their next World Championship. One of the stars for the Red Sox in the 1918 World Series was a pitcher by the name of George Herman Ruth. The Cubs were 84-45 during the shortened season of 1918. Hippo Vaughn, Claude Hendrix and Lefty Tyler led the Cubs’ pitching staff.

1928

The ’28 Chicago Cubs finished with a 91-63 record four games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League pennant. The Cubs were led by Charlie Root, Charlie Grimm, Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler and Riggs Stephenson.

1938

The Cubs finished with a 89-63 record and won the National League Pennant. 1938 was the year of the famous home run by Gabby Hartnett, “The Homer in the Gloamin’” that led to the Cubs edging out the Pittsburgh Pirates by two games for the pennant. The Cubs faced the New York Yankees once again in the World Series, six years after Babe Ruth called his shot.

The Cubs were swept in 4 games by a Yankee team led by Joe DiMaggio. Joe McCarthy was the Yankees manager, while the Cubs skipper was Gabby Hartnett. Dizzy Dean, Charlie Root and Bill Lee were the Cubs pitching standouts. Hartnett caught a majority of the games for a Cubs’ team that season that included Stan Hack, Billy Herman, Phil Cavarretta and Augie Galan.

1948

The Cubs were just three seasons removed from their last World Series appearance but finished the season 64-90, 27 1/2 games back of the Boston Braves, last in the National League. Phil Cavarretta and Andy Pafko led the Cubs in the summer of ’48.

1958

The Cubs continued their long string of losing seasons in the late 1950’s. Since the Cubs’ pennant winning season of 1945, they posted only two seasons with a record of .500 or better: 1946, 82-71 and 1952, 77-77. The Cubs finished with a 72-82 record, their most wins in three seasons but 20 games back of the Milwaukee Braves, tied for 5th in the National League with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bob Scheffing managed the ’58 Cubs and the team featured Moe Drabowsky, Dick Ellsworth, Ernie Banks and Bobby Thompson.

Ernie Banks won his first of two back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1958. ‘Mr. Cub’ posted a .313 average with 47 home runs and 129 RBI’s (.366 OBP/.614 SLG).

1968

The ’68 Chicago Cubs laid the groundwork for the magical summer of 1969. The Cubs posted a record of 84-78, third place in the NL, 13 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first time since 1945 and 1946 the Cubs had back-to-back winning seasons.

Ron Santo and Glenn Beckert won Gold Gloves. Ferguson Jenkins, Ken Holtzman, Phil Regan, Joe Niekro, Randy Hundley, Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger, Billy Williams, Willie Smith, Al Spangler and Lee Elia were on Leo Durocher’s roster.

1978

The Cubs were a season removed from their first .500 finish since 1972 (81-81 in 1977) but finished the year 4 games below the break even mark in 1978 with a 79-83 record….3rd place in the National League East, 11 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies. Herman Franks managed the club for the second of three seasons.

Rick Reuschel and his brother Paul led a pitching staff that once again included Ken Holtzman. Bruce Sutter was the Cubs’ closer and Willie Hernandez was also in the pen. Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus, Manny Trillo, Gene Clines, Davey Johnson, Dave Kingman, Larry Biitner, Donnie Moore and Bobby Murcer were a few of the players on the ’78 squad.

1988

First known as Weeghman Park in 1914 when it was the home of the Chicago Whales, the old ballpark the Cubs have called home since 1916 had never hosted a big league game under the lights until August 8, 1988.

The first night game at Wrigley was against the Philadelphia Phillies but was called because of rain in the 4th inning. The Cubs won the first official night game at Wrigley Field on August 9, 1988. The Cubs beat the Mets, 6-4.

The Cubs finished the 1988 season with a 77-85 record, 24 games behind the New York Mets, 4th place in the NL Eastern Division. The ’88 team was Don Zimmer’s first as the Cubs’ manager and featured Rick Sutcliffe, Jeff Pico, Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux, Ryne Sandberg, Jody Davis, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson, Rafael Palmeiro and a rookie by the name of Mark Grace.

1998

The next to the last season of the 20th Century was a very successful, but sad season for the Chicago Cubs. Shortly after the year began, Harry Caray passed away. The flamboyant voice of the Cubs was more than an announcer, he helped sell the game of baseball to an entire generation and became an ambassador to the sport. Harry’s death in February led to the guest conductor being a staple at every Cubs’ home game since….but no one will ever deliver it the way Harry did.

Jim Riggleman led the Cubs to a 90-73 record and their first post-season appearance since 1989. A little known pitcher from Texas made his Major League debut and on his 5th career start set a National League record with 20 strikeouts in a single game. Kerry Wood tied Roger Clemens’ All-Time mark and many call his performance one of the most dominant in the history of the game. Wood allowed just one scratch hit to Ricky Gutierrez in the 3rd inning (the hit was just out of the reach of Kevin Orie and went off his glove into left field) and hit Craig Biggio with a pitch in the 6th inning. Kerry Wood won the NL Rookie of the Year Award that season.

Sammy Sosa hit 20 home runs in June and finished the season with 66….four behind Mark McGwire. Sosa went on to win the NL MVP Award.

The Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants in a one-game playoff at Wrigley to win the NL Wild Card and earned their only post-season appearance of the ’90’s.

What will the New Year bring to the North Side? One thing is for sure…. It’s Been Long Enough.

Quote of the Day

"Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice." - Bob Proctor
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