Orval Overall pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out 10, and the Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers to win the 1908 World Series 107 years ago today.
It was the second of back-to-back world titles for the Cubs, who haven’t recaptured the elusive championship since.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 14, 2015
For some perspective, the same year, the Montreal Wanderers defeated the Ottawa Victorias for the Stanley Cup, Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack sold pitcher Rube Waddell to the St. Louis Browns for $5,000 and Boston’s Cy Young pitched his third and final no-hitter, an 8-0 win over the New York Highlanders.
For the second-consecutive year, the Cubs topped the Tigers in five games. Hall-of-Fame first baseman Frank Chance batted .421 in the series to lead the Cubs.
But forget about the Curse of the Billygoat. Some blame the Cubs’ 106-season championship drought on a 1908 incident known as “Merkle’s Boner.”
On September 23, 1908, a game between the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs ends in 1-1 tie after a controversial call at second base. The officials ruled that Giants first baseman Fred Merkle was out because he failed to touch second base, a call that has been disputed ever since.
With Giant Moose McCormick on first base after a fielder’s choice and two outs (in the ninth), Fred Merkle hit a single that sent McCormick to third. With men on first and third and afternoon turning to evening, shortstop Al Bridwell hit a single to center, scoring McCormick. Unfortunately for John McGraw’s Giants, Merkle never ran and touched second, he instead ran off the field after watching McCormick score. Cub manager Frank Chance instructed his team to throw the ball to second base and touch the bag. Giant pitcher Joe McGinnity had noticed Merkle’s blunder as well, however, and, with fans crowding the field in celebration, he threw the ball into the stands. Chance somehow obtained a ball, apparently not the game ball, and when he threw the ball to second base, Merkle was called out. Umpire Hank O’Day then called the game a tie due to impending darkness.
The game would be replayed Oct. 8, with the Cubs winning the makeup game to take the NL pennant.
Some baseball historians have since argued that the pennant rightfully belonged to the Giants and contest that the Cubs stole the crown, making “Merkle’s Boner” the real Cubs curse.