The Cubs had been incredible in the 1906 season, winning 116 games and losing only 36, a record that has remained intact nine decades later. The Sox, on the other hand, had started off in sixth place. But they won 19 in a row late in the season, and what had seemed impossible happened. The Cubs and the White Sox were in the World Series, both for the first time.
"Last night Chicago was baseball mad," the Tribune reported after the Sox clinched the American League pennant. "Men stood and cheered in elevated trains when the news was passed along that the Sox were safe and that Chicago had two pennants--and the world's championship."Still, baseball's first intracity World Series seemed a pitiful mismatch. Surely the awesome Cubs, led by manager and first baseman Frank Chance, would demolish "the Hitless Wonders." The Cubs exuded quality, starting with the immortal double-play combination of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers and Chance.
Sox owner Charles Comiskey's players had a team batting average of .228, not one .300 hitter, and their pitching was shaky.
Fan rivalry was intense. Tempers flared in bars, and fights broke out. On Oct. 9, the opening day of the Series, business stopped and City Hall closed down. Tickets were $2 for box seats and 50 cents for bleachers.
The teams split the first four games, and then the White Sox took game five. They needed only one more game to win the Series. Nearly 20,000 jammed Comiskey Park, and thousands waited in the streets. With Cubs ace "Three Finger" Brown on the mound, a seventh game seemed certain.
The Cubs scored a run in the first inning, but the Sox, now called "the Hitting Wonders," scored three, then exploded with four in the second. In the Cubs' ninth, with the score 8-3 and two out, Frank Schulte hit a weak ground ball to the mound. Doc White tossed to first, then ran for his life as Sox fans swarmed onto the field and into the streets. That night, bonfires were set for a party that lasted into the morning. Cubs faithful stayed inside and mourned. An embittered Frank Chance said, "There is one thing I will never believe, and that is the Sox are better than the Cubs."
Chance never got his revenge against the Sox, but he did get redemption when the Cubs won the 1907 and 1908 World Series. The Sox ruled the baseball world once more in 1917, but the '06 Series may well remain a unique moment in the city's sports history.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun