1906 Chicago Cubs: A Look Back at Their First WS Team

The 1906 Chicago Cubs won 116 games, a number only matched by the 2001 Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball History. The Cubs lost only 36 games in 1906 and .763 winning percentage is also the best in MLB history.

The Cubs played against the White Sox that season in what was the first matchup of teams from the same metropolitan area in the same world series. The 1906 White Sox were dubbed the hitless wonders.

The Cubs got off to a pedestrian 6-6 start. The Cubs went on a ten game winning streak from there and did not look back. The Cubs finished July with a 68-30 record and 4.5 game lead in the National League. That’s when this team went from a great team to a legendary team.

The pace at the end of July would have had them finish 105-47 at the end of the season. The Cubs finished an almost impossible 50-8 to win the National League by 20 games.

From there they matched up with their crosstown rival White Sox. The Cubs had an advantage in almost every category, particularly offensively. The White Sox got their nickname due to their .230 team batting average. The Cubs hit .262 in 1906.

The Cubs had three starters who hit over .300. The White Sox best hitter hit .279. Six of the White Sox starters hit under .260 and four who hit .230 or under.

The 1906 Cubs Cubs were well known for Pitcher Mordechai “Three Finger” Brown and shortstop Joe Tinker,second baseman Johnny Evers and first basemen Frank Chance. Tinkers to Evers to Change were immortalized in the poem Baseball’s Sad Lexicon:

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon:

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double-
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Brown was 26-6 with a what would be a now unthinkable 1.04 ERA. He won 188 games for the Cubs in his career, 239 total with a 2.06 career ERA and is in the Hall of Fame.  His Cubs win total was later eclipsed by Charlie Root who won 201 games between 1926-41.

The Cubs pitching staff was one of the most dominant in Major League history. Jack Pfeister went 20-8 with a 1.51 ERA. Three other Cubs starters had sub 2.00 ERAs and six Cubs Pitchers won double figure games.

The game was completely different than it is today. The Cubs had complete games in 125 out of their 152 games in 1906. They also had an unfathomable 238 stolen bases.

The hitless wonder White Sox bats lived up their name in the World Series even worse than they did in the regular season. They hit just .198 as a team in the World Series. Their pitching staff held the Cubs hitters to a .196 average.

The teams split the first four games. After scoring six runs on 11 hits through the first four games, the White Sox exploded in the last two. They won game five 8-5 and game six 8-3 to finish off one of the biggest upsets in history.

Brown got shelled for that era in the series. He lost two of his three starts and finished with a 3.55 ERA. Pfeister pitched the other two games for the Cubs and was even worse than Brown. He was 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in one start and one relief appearance.

Orval Overall and Ed Reulbach were the Cubs other two pitchers in the series and pitched far better.

The loss was likely a heartbreaking one for Cubs fans. If this happened in the present, the advent of modern technology and accessibility to other fans would have Chicago figuratively implode. Cubs fans had to only wait a year before they could celebrate. The Cubs won the World Series in 1907 and followed it up with another title in 1908.

The Cubs were amazingly the first team in the history of North American Sports to repeat as a Champion. The 1908 World Series title is the last one the Cubs won.

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