In 1876, the Chicago White Stockings become one of eight charter members of the National League led by their president William A. Hulbert, who was also the owner of the Chicago club. A.G. Spalding is the manager when the team plays its first game in the history of the Chicago National League Ball Club that takes place on April 25. Spalding doubles as the pitcher and records the first NL shutout, a 4-0 win over Louisville. The first run in team history is scored by center fielder Paul Hines on a throwing error in the second inning.
The White Stockings go on to win the inaugural National League championship. Using nicknames such as the "White Stockings," "Colts," and Orphans," the team plays in five different locations in the 1800s. The fledgling league thrived, as did the Chicago organization, becoming one of the sport's first dynasties, winning six of the first 11 titles.
There were many players worthy of recognition, but the most enduring fixture from this era is Adrian "Cap" Anson, who set the franchise record for career hits (2,995) and managed the club for 19 years, earning him the nick name "Cap," which was short for captain.
What a decade for Cubs baseball, which is exactly what it was. In 1902, noting the youth movement lead by new manager Frank Selee, a local newspaper penned the nickname Cubs for the first time. The moniker prevailed over time and was officially adopted by the club in 1907. It is currently one of the longest running-and most beloved-alias' in all of sports. The team, after moving around to different parks during the previous century, found a home at the West Side Grounds, their home from 1893-1915.
The organization enjoyed the most successful decade in its history, posting in 1906 all-time major league records for wins in a season (116) and winning percentage (.763) en route to their first pennant of the 20th century. The only all-Chicago World Series was played; the White Sox winning four games to two. Spurned on by this loss, the team, in 1907, wins its second consecutive National League pennant -- by 17 games -- under player-manager Frank Chance.
The Cubs won their first World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb, four games to two. They followed this up the next year by winning their second consecutive World Championship, repeating their World Series victory over Detroit, this time four games to one. In 1908 pitcher Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown wins 29 games, setting a team record (since 1900) that stands today. He finished the decade with 135 victories, 716 strikeouts and a 1.51 ERA. The double-play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance is on its way to baseball immortality, inspiring a "sad lexicon" written by Franklin Pierce, a writer with the New York Times:
"These are the saddest of possible words ... Tinker to Evers to Chance ... A trio of bear Cubs and fleeter than birds ... Tinker to Evers to Chance ... Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble ... Making a Giant hit into a double ... Words that are weighty with nothing but trouble ... Tinker to Evers to Chance."
The team began this decade much like they concluded the previous one - by winning. The Cubs win their fourth National League pennant in five seasons. Despite wining 104 games and capturing the flag by 13 games, they lose the 1910 World Series to the Philadelphia A's, four games to one. During this time period the team would finish in the top three in six of the years and appeared in two World Series - in 1910 and 1918 - losing both times. In 1916, after the rival Federal League had folded, the former owner from the upstart league, Charles Weeghman, purchased the Cubs and immediately moved them into the park that he had built in 1914 for his now defunct organization. The edifice at the corner of Clark and Addison St. was then known as Weeghman Park houses the current team under the name Wrigley Field. It is the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues, behind Boston's Fenway Park. On a sad note, Albert Goodwill Spalding, who had been so instrumental in getting the Chicago National League Ball Club, and baseball in general off the ground, died on Sept. 9, 1915.
In 1920, Weeghman Park becomes known as Cubs Park, after chewing gum magnet William Wrigley buys out the remainder of Charles Weeghman's share of the club. The park would undergo yet another name change in 1926 when it becomes Wrigley Field. That same year, plans are revealed to add a second tier to The Friendly Confines, which increases capacity to 40,000. In 1929, under Hall-of-Fame manager Joe McCarthy, the Cubs win the National League pennant by more than 10 games. Nearly 1.5 million people pack Wrigley Field to marvel at the hitting exploits of future Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby (the year's NL MVP), Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett and Kiki Cuyler. Despite all of the firepower, the Cubs lose the World Series to the Philadelphia A's, four games to one. During the decade, Wilson and Grover Alexander lead the team at the plate and on the mound. Wilson finished the period with 121 home runs and 517 RBIs while the right-hander Alexander lead with 110 Ws and a 3.02 ERA.
In 1930, outfielder Hack Wilson puts together one of the greatest hitting seasons in baseball history, pounding 56 homers and driving in 191 runs-a mark has never been bettered in Major League Baseball. On June 27, the largest crowd ever to see a game at Wrigley Field - 51,556 - is on hand as the Cubs play the Brooklyn Dodgers. But paid attendance is only 19,748, due to the Ladies Day promotion.
In 1932, Manager Charlie Grimm leads the Cubs to the National League pennant, the team's second in four years. Cub pitcher Lon Warneke posts a 22-6 record. The Cubs face the vaunted New York Yankees in the World Series - a series marked by Babe Ruth's mythical "called shot" during the 5th inning of Game 3 at Wrigley Field. The Yankees sweep the Cubs, four games to none.
This same year, former owner Charles Weeghman and owner William Wrigley pass away, leaving the organization to Wrigley's son, Philip Knight. P.K. then began remodeling the park to fit his vision of a backyard family playground. He hired Bill Veeck, who, in 1937, plants the now-famous ivy on the outfield wall.
That same year, the bleachers are constructed and a new scoreboard is installed, both of which have remained virtually untouched over the years. In 1938, one of the most dramatic moments in team history occurs when catcher Gabby Hartnett hits the legendary "Homer in the Gloamin'" at Wrigley Field. Hartnett's round-tripper off Pittsburgh's Mace Brown gives the Cubs their third NL pennant of the decade. Hartnett replaces Charlie Grimm as manager during the season, and lead the Cubs to the 1938 World Series against the New York Yankees, where the Cubs are swept four games to none. For the decade, Hartnett slugged 777 RBI, Riggs Stephenson hit .329 and Lon Warneke posted a 2.85 ERA.
Instead of becoming one of the first teams to install lights, the Cubs went on to become one of the last when, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, P.K. Wrigley donates the lighting equipment that he had recently purchased to the War Department in 1941. The team's final World Series appearance of the 20th century occurred in 1945, the last World War II-affected season. The team lost the Fall Classic to Detroit in heartbreaking fashion, four games to three. In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut. When the Dodgers came to town in the middle of May, with Robinson at first base, the stands were packed with the largest single-game attendance at Wrigley Field ever-46,572.
With the country in the middle of the Cold War, the Cubs as a team are in the middle of a frigid decade. After experiencing success for the majority of their existence, the Cubs finish the 50s without a postseason appearance, the first decade of a drought that would last until 1984. Individual team members found success of their own. In 1952, outfielder Hank Sauer wins the NL Most Valuable Player award after he hit a major league leading 37 home runs and 121 RBI. In 1955, Sam Jones becomes the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter in nearly 40 seasons, blanking Pittsburgh 4-0 on May 12 at Wrigley Field. And in 1959 Ernie Banks becomes the first National Leaguer to win the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons. The previous year he hit .313, 47 homers and 129 RBI, while '59 saw him go .304 with 45 home runs and a major-league leading 143 RBI.
Sport imitated life in the 60s. A period mostly remembered for rebelling against the norm and untimely deaths of promising young leaders could describe the nation's or the organization's history during this time. In 1960 owner P.K. Wrigley experimented with manager position, implementing a "College of Coaches." The system was meant to be a blending of ideas from several individuals instead of the traditional one skipper ended without success five years later when Leo "The Lip" Durocher took the helm. 1961 brought more individual success as future Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams is voted the National League Rookie of the Year. The next year the name of his teammate Ken Hubbs was engraved on the trophy. The promising young second baseman played a record 78 games without an error during his freshman campaign and was the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award. His life was cut short two years later when the plane that he was piloting crashed into an icy Utah lake. 1969 began the disdain that most Cubs fans feel for the Mets. The Wrigley faithful shatter The Friendly Confines attendance records, as Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins lead the Cubs to one of their most memorable seasons. A tremendous late-season pennant drive by the Mets left the Cubs in second place, despite a 92-win season. For the decade, Fergie Jenkins leads the squad on the mound with 917 Ks and a 2.95 ERA while Ron Santo drove in 937 runs and Ernie Banks hit 269 homers.
During the 1970s, the Cubs saw many of their greats ride off into the sunset. Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks retires from the game in 1971 with 512 home runs. Three years later he and his familiar greeting of, "Let's play two!" are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Billy Williams, who in 1971 becomes the first player in NL history to play in 1,000 consecutive games, is traded to Oakland on October 23, 1974. Ron Santo, who personified the hot corner for the second half of the century-even long after he retired from the game-is traded to the White Sox in 1973. Fireballer Fergie Jenkins is shuttled off to the Texas Rangers. In return the Cubs received two infielders, one of which was Bill Madlock. Names synonymous with Cubs baseball-Charlie Root, Gabby Hartnett, Stan Hack and owner Philip Knight Wrigley all passed away in this decade, with the reins of the team being passed to Wrigley's only son, William.
Ch-ch-changes are in store for the Cubs in the 1980s in regards to ownership, postseason play and the park. In 1981 the Wrigley family ends their 65-year ownership of the team when William Wrigley sells the team to the Tribune Company for $20.5 million.
In 1982, Fergie Jenkins -- having been picked up as a free agent the previous November -- becomes the seventh player in baseball history to hurl a record 3,000 strikeouts. That season Ernie Banks becomes the first Cub to have his number retire. The fabled No. 14 now flies from the left-field foul pole at Wrigley Field while Billy Williams' No. 26-retired in 1987-flies from the right-field pole.
In 1984, the organization wins their first NL Eastern Division championship, and return to post-season play for the first time since 1945. Under manager Jim Frey, the Cubs post a 96 and 65 record, breaking the 2 million-attendance mark. Second baseman Ryne Sandberg wins the NL Most Valuable Player award. Acquired in mid-June, pitcher Rick Sutcliffe went 16-1 with the Cubs to win the NL Cy Young award. After winning the first two games at Wrigley Field, the Cubs lost the N. L. championship series to the San Diego Padres, three games to two. In 1987, outfielder Andre Dawson wins the NL Most Valuable Player award after hitting 49 home runs and driving in 143 runs.
On August 8, 1988, in a contest against the Phillies, the Cubs play their first night game in Wrigley Field history on August 8. The night debut was rained out after 3 1/2 innings, and the first official night game occurred the next night, when the Cubs defeated the New York Mets, 6-4. After the season, the North Siders announce plans for $14 million renovation of park, including construction of 67 mezzanine suites and a new press box.
The team wins their second NL Eastern Division championship in 1989. Led by manager Don Zimmer, the Cubs enjoyed All-Star seasons from Sandberg, Dawson, Sutcliffe along with relief pitcher Mitch Williams, and Rookie-of-the-Year performance by outfielder Jerome Walton. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Cubs in the 1989 NLCS, four games to one.
Home runs, strikeouts and the passing of two legendary voices of the Cubs are the items of note from this decade. In 1990, Ryne Sandberg leads the NL with 40 home runs, the third-highest total ever for a second baseman. Sandberg also established a major-league record by playing errorless ball for 123 straight games. Cub pitcher Greg Maddux wins the NL Cy Young award in 1992, after posting a 20-and-11 record.
The next season, Randy Myers sets an NL record with 53 saves. Setting the stage for greater things to come, in 1993 Sammy Sosa becomes the first player in Cubs history to post a "30/30" season, finishing the year with 33 homers and 36 steals. He duplicates the milestone the next full season and along the way, hits the organization's 10,000th home run. Also in 1995, the club wins the 9,000th game in franchise history. The Cubs have won more games than any other one-city professional sports franchise.
1997 brings the end of an era when Sandberg announces his retirement, effective at the end of the season. His 277 home runs hit by a second basemen is a major-league record. 1998 saw a return to the postseason. In the first-ever tiebreaker for a wild-card spot, Steve Trachsel takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning and leads the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Sosa slugs 66 home runs and captured the NL MVP, as he battles St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Mark McGwire in a home run race that captivated the nation. Sosa becomes only the fourth player ever to hit more than 60 home runs in a year, as his 66 were the second most in major-league history to McGwire's 70. Kerry Wood, in just his fifth major-league start, strikes out 20 Astros in the complete-game victory, tying a major-league record for most strikeouts in a game. Wood became just the fourth Cubs player--and the club's first pitcher - to earn Rookie of the Year honors. Wood goes 13-6 with 233 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA for the Cubs in his first 26 major-league starts.
While the team could not repeat the previous season's glory, Sosa, in 1999, becomes the first player in major-league history to reach the 60-homer mark twice. Mark Grace becomes the first Cubs during the 1900s to lead a decade in hits. The first baseman also was the 1990s doubles leader and finished 2nd in singles behind the Padres Tony Gwynn. Coming off the Wild Card season, the club establishes single-year marks for home, road and total attendance. Sadly, the Cubs also experience the loss of two Hall-of-Fame broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, both in 1998.
The new millennium began as a tale of two seasons. In 2000, the team finished with a 65-97 record and established a club record when 51 players appeared in at least one game -- breaking the old mark of 49, set in 1966. The club also said goodbye to Mark Grace, who was a fixture at first base for the North Siders for 13 seasons. There were also many moments to celebrate, such as when Eric Young became the first Cub since the first season of Chicago National League baseball to steal five bases in a single game.