The Curse of the Billy Goat? The infamous black cat of ’69? Windy City pariah Steve Bartman? That’s all in the past now for the Cubs and the city of Chicago. The onetime loveable losers of Major League Baseball brought an end to the longest World Series championships drought in history in 2016, outlasting the Cleveland Indians in seven drama-filled games for the franchise’s first crown since 1908. And with a dynamic young core led by Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the North Siders appear poised to remain post-season contenders for years to come, making Chicago Cubs tickets a hot commodity.
Chicago Cubs Team Info
Theo Epstein is sure building a strong case for inclusion in Cooperstown. Hired by the Red Sox at the age of 28, making him the youngest GM in MLB history, he brought Boston its first World Series crown in 86 years in 2004. As president of baseball operations, he ended another historic dry spell in 2016, this time with the Chicago Cubs. In addition to bringing in manager Joe Maddon, Epstein was instrumental in piecing together one of the most formidable, deep-bench rosters in the game. In just his second season in the big leagues, third baseman Kris Bryant smacked 39 home runs and totaled 102 RBIs en route to earning MVP honors. First baseman Anthony Rizzo has now reached or eclipsed the 25-HR mark five years running. Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Cole Hamels provide a formidable 1-2-3 punch atop the pitching rotation, while second baseman Javier Baez and right fielder Jason Heyward provide some stifling defense behind them.
Chicago Cubs History
The 2016 World Series title aside, perhaps no other MLB fan base has suffered as much as Cubs supporters. In the ’70s, future TV star Joe Mantegna was moved to co-create Bleacher Bums, a play that centers on a group Cubs fans who remain loyal despite the team’s persistent failings. It wasn’t always this way, of course: The Cubs won back-to-back World Series crowns in 1907 and 1908, and returned to the title-round seven times between 1910 and 1945 — although they came up short on each occasion. On the verge of clinching the National League pennant in 2003 against the Florida Marlins, outfielder Moises Alou watched in disgust as a seemingly catchable foul ball was snatched just above his outstretched glove by fan Steve Bartman, who became a scapegoat in Chicago when the team went on to lose the game and, the next night, the series. It would be four years before they would return to the postseason, and 13 before they would bring their World Series title drought to an end.
Chicago Cubs Greatest Moments
Even in the lean years when the Cubs failed to find much success in the standings, they featured one of the game’s greatest players. Shortstop Ernie Banks, who wore Chicago’s pinstripes from 1953 to 1971, was famed for his sunny disposition and his love of the game, as shown in his oft-repeated catchphrase: “Let’s play two.” In 1959, Banks became the first National League player to win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. Other all-time Cub greats include Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Hack Wilson and slugger Sammy Sosa.
Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field
With its ivy-covered outfield walls and hand-operated scoreboard looming over the center field stands, Wrigley Field is arguably MLB’s most iconic park. Dubbed “The Friendly Confines” by the late Ernie Banks, the stadium opened in 1914. It was originally known as Weeghman Park, after the owner of its first occupant: the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. The Cubs moved in two years later, after the Whales and the Federal League folded. (By the way, don’t be fooled by the ivy; the outfield walls are made of brick, and the vegetation provides little to no padding for outfielders looking to make a full-speed running catch.) A sweeping, multi-year restoration/expansion project along Sheffield Avenue and Clark Street has brought fans an array of new amenities, including video boards, expanded concessions, improved parking options, an open-air plaza, a boutique hotel, and more.
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