Column: 2022 Chicago Cubs share doubtful historical past with the 1879 workforce — however there may very well be an indication of hope


When a colleague pulled out his iPhone within the Chicago Cubs clubhouse Thursday afternoon to indicate a factoid he obtained from the workforce’s historian, my head started to spin.

After the four-game sweep by the San Diego Padres, the Cubs had been outscored by 20 or more runs in back-to-back series for under the second time in franchise historical past. The different time it occurred was in September 1879, when the Cubs have been outscored by the Providence Grays by 20 runs (29-9) and the Boston Braves by 23 (31-8).

Of all of the dangerous groups in Cubs historical past, we lastly have an identical set, separated by solely 143 years.

I questioned how the 1879 Cubs dealt with their beatings. Did they’ve stand-up gamers like nearer David Robertson or catcher Willson Contreras who stepped up Thursday and confronted media members after the embarrassing dropping streak reached 10 video games? Was the supervisor on the new seat afterward? Did Cubs followers of 1879 ignore the drubbings on the sector and give attention to constructing the longest beer cup snake recognized to trendy man at Lake Front Park?

Thanks to trendy know-how — a subscription to the Chicago Tribune — I used to be capable of finding some solutions.

The Tribune, which turned 175 on June 10, didn’t make use of a baseball beat author again in 1879, when the Cubs have been often known as the White Stockings, Rutherford B. Hayes was president and the phone had simply been invented three years earlier.

The 1879 workforce was managed by Cap Anson, a primary baseman who led the White Stockings to the National League pennant in 1876, the primary 12 months of the brand new league. Anson later was called “baseball’s first superstar” by the Society for American Baseball Research, which wrote: “So good was Anson’s bat control that he struck out only once during the 1878 season and twice in 1879.” Cubs slugger Patrick Wisdom, who can strike out thrice in a single afternoon, is not any Cap Anson.

There was no account of the 17-8 loss in Boston on Sept. 10, 1879, the primary time in Cubs historical past the workforce had misplaced consecutive sequence by 20 or extra runs. The large sporting news within the Tribune’s Sept. 11 version was that Syracuse, one of many eight NL golf equipment, had disbanded, canceling the three video games scheduled in New York that weekend with the White Stockings. (The 2022 Cubs would don’t have any such luck. The Atlanta Braves not solely refused to disband, they arrived on the town Friday driving a 14-game win streak.)

As it turned out, Anson’s 1879 workforce had extra dissension than supervisor David Ross’s 2022 model, which has been controversy-free thus far. Under the news of Syracuse folding was an merchandise on the discharge of proper fielder George Shaffer, who apparently was a talkative fellow nicknamed “Orator.”

“A good many people in Chicago during the present season have objected to George Shaffer… on the ground that he was too much of a ‘chinner,’” the paper reported. “The Tribune has on several occasions alluded to the peculiarity of this young man, but out of consideration for him did not state, as it might have done, in addition to being noisy and troublesome on the field, Shaffer was the far worst kind of disorganizer. Even going so far not so long ago to charge another member of the nine to selling games, thus starting a rumor, that spread all over the country, that there was crookedness in the White Stockings camp.”

This was earlier than baseball rumors unfold on Twitter or TikTok, as a result of, you recognize, the cellphone had simply been invented. That meant Orator Shaffer’s rumor the White Stockings had been promoting (throwing) video games was unfold by a mix of phrase of mouth, the telegraph and newspapers.

Anyways, Shaffer — whose baseball encyclopedia itemizing is spelled “Shafer” — had been in a “rough and tumble fight” outdoors a Boston lodge with teammate Ed Williamson, in response to the Tribune. Shaffer was “badly worst and somewhat used up by the encounter,” the report mentioned, and demanded his quick launch.

This was the sort of dust-up White Sox normal supervisor Rick Hahn would refer to as a “nothing burger,” however the Tribune reported the White Stockings refused to launch Shaffer till it might telegraph the workforce president in Chicago. White Stockings president William Hulbert ultimately despatched a telegraph again to Boston stating it was crucial to launch Shaffer, who now not would orate in Chicago.

The Tribune merchandise ended with the unnamed creator taking one final shot at Shaffer, concluding Hulbert’s actions could be endorsed “by the Chicago public to a man.” Even 143 years in the past Tribune sports activities writers have been making an attempt to dump unpopular gamers. Imagine that.

That was the tip of the saga, and the Tribune just about ignored the White Stockings the subsequent couple weeks. But the paper offered a quick abstract of the workforce’s up-and-down season in a Sept. 28 article headlined: “Providence Wins the Pennant.” The story mentions the White Stockings’ 14-1 begin in May, and the slew of accidents that adopted: “The Chicago boom continued with great force until the 1st of July, and then began the chapter of accidents and misfortunes that landed the team in third place.”

The Trib report was significantly harsh on White Stockings pitcher Terry Larkin, one of many workforce’s two starters, who went 31-23 with a 2.44 ERA in 58 begins, with 57 full video games:

“For the loss of power, Larkin was alone to blame. He is simply an addition to the long list of ball-players who have ruined themselves by dissipation. They deserve no pity and seldom see any.”

The story included the lengthy checklist of accidents that doomed the 1879 White Stockings, who went 4-12 in September to complete fourth with a 46-33 file.

If you consider the adage “what goes around, comes around,” there may very well be hope for Ross’ 2022 Cubs. Despite enduring back-to-back sequence beatings that no workforce in franchise historical past would match till now, the 1879 White Stockings would go on to seize three straight NL pennants from 1880-82, a pair many years earlier than the primary World Series.

And identical to in 1879, you can read about it here.

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