Saturday, July 24, 2010

What if the White Sox Had Won the 1919 World Series?

September 24, 1919: The Chicago White Sox defeat the St. Louis Browns, 6-5 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, and clinch their second American League Pennant in the last three seasons.

They had won the World Series in 1917, defeating the New York Giants. This time, they will face the Cincinnati Reds, who have already clinched the National League Pennant.

White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey, previously a penny-pincher, remembers that he had once been a player himself, a very good first baseman who led the last Cincinnati Pennant winner, in the American Association in 1882. He has a change of heart and tells his players that, if they win the World Series, he will pay them a sum matching their winning shares.

(Point of Divergence, or POD: This means they don't have to accept the offer from the gamblers to "throw" the Series.)

The 1919 World Series:

Game 1, October 1: The Reds win, defeating the White Sox, 4-1 at Redland Field (later to be renamed Crosley Field). White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte tires in the seventh inning, with the score tied 1-1, and the White Sox can't come back.

Game 2, October 2: The White Sox win, 2-1. Claude "Lefty" Williams gets out of a fourth-inning bases-loaded jam, and the Series goes to Chicago tied.

Game 3, October 3: The White Sox win, 3-0 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Dickie Kerr, only 5-foot-7, shuts out the potent Reds lineup which features Edd Roush, Jake Daubert and Henry "Heinie" Groh. The Sox now lead, 2 games to 1.

Game 4, October 4: The Reds tie the World Series back up, winning by a 2-0 score at Comiskey Park. White Sox stars Eddie Collins, Shoeless Joe Jackson and George "Buck" Weaver can't get a run across against Jimmy Ring, who shuts the Pale Hose out.

Game 5, October 6: Horace "Hod" Eller outduels Williams, and the Reds scratch out a 1-0 victory over the White Sox at Comiskey Park. The Reds now lead 3 games to 2, but the Sox aren't desperate yet, as the Series is a best 5-out-of-9 this year. But they need to win Game 6 in Cincinnati.

Game 6, October 7: The White Sox win, 4-0, and tie up the World Series at Redland Field. Jackson, Weaver and Oscar "Happy" Felsch get 7 hits between them, and great fielding plays by Felsch and Arnold "Swede" Risberg help out Kerr, who shuts out the Reds for his second win of the Series.

Game 7, October 8: Eddie Cicotte regains his form, and the White Sox beat the Reds, 4-1 in Cincinnati. The Sox now lead 4 games to 3, and need just one more victory to win the Series.

Game 8, October 9: Shoeless Joe Jackson hits the only home run of the Series, Lefty Williams outdules Hod Eller, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-3 at Comiskey Park. They win the World Series, 5 games to 3. For the 2nd time in the last 3 years, the White Sox are World Champions.

*

October 2, 1920: The Cleveland Indians defeat the Detroit Tigers 10-1, and clinch the American League Pennant. Despite a .382 batting average by Jackson, a .372 average from Collins, 23 wins by Urban "Red" Faber and 22 by Williams, the Chicago White Sox finish two games out. The New York Yankees, with newcomer Babe Ruth hitting a staggering record of 54 home runs, finish third, three back.

September 14, 1921: The Yankees beat the White Sox, 11-8 at the Polo Grounds in New York, and come away with a split in their last series of the year with the Sox. The Yanks will win their first American League Pennant, by two and a half games over the Sox and four and a half over the defending World Champion Indians.

(This was the day after the "Eight Men Out" -- left fielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, pitcher Eddie Cicotte, pitcher Claude "Lefty" Williams, first baseman Arnold "Chick" Gandil, right fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch, shortstop Charles "Swede" Risberg, backup third baseman Fred McMullin who was included in the fix only because he overheard ringleaders Gandil and Felsch discussing it in the men's room, and the man who had nothing to do with the fix but was banned because he knew about it but didn't rat his teammates out, starting third baseman George "Buck" Weaver -- were acquitted of fraud in court, and the day they were permanently banned by baseball's new Commissioner, a former federal Judge from Chicago with Southern, and thus bigoted, origins: Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Shoeless Joe was 33 when he played his last game, and should have had one-third of his career to go. He was, however, the only one of the eight who was anywhere near Hall of Fame consideration -- keeping in mind, though, that, during his career, there was no consideration of there even being a Baseball Hall of Fame.)

September 30, 1922: The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 3-1 at Fenway Park, and clinch their second straight Pennant. But it was a dogfight, as they finish just one game ahead of the St. Louis Browns and two ahead of the White Sox, who are led by Jackson, who bats .391 and hits 52 home runs, missing Yankee Ruth's 2-year-old record by just 2.

September 19, 1925: The White Sox sweep a doubleheader with the defending World Champion Washington Senators, 4-3 and 17-0. Jackson hits three home runs in the twinbill, and the Senators' chances to repeat as Pennant winners are doomed.

October 1, 1925: The White Sox win their season finale, 10-8 over the Indians in front of 60,125 fans at a recently expanded Comiskey Park. They will face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.

October 11, 1925: The White Sox beat the Pirates, 4-0, and sweep the World Series. Ted Lyons pitches a shutout, and Jackson collects four hits.

August 20, 1927: The White Sox defeat the Philadelphia Athletics, 5-2 at Comiskey Park. Jackson collects his 3,000th career hit off A's pitcher Howard Ehmke. He joins Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Cap Anson and former teammate Eddie Collins as members of the 3,000 Hit Club.

October 6, 1929: The White Sox defeat the Detroit Tigers, 8-7 at Comiskey Park. Although the Sox finish fifth, 21 games behind the eventual World Champion Athletics, a sellout crowd of 62,786 is on hand to say goodbye to the greatest athlete the City of Chicago has yet known, White Sox left fielder Joseph Jefferson Jackson.

Now 40 years old, Shoeless Joe retires with a lifetime batting average of .360, second all-time behind Ty Cobb; 3,322 career hits, fifth all-time; and 372 career home runs, second all-time behind Babe Ruth.

January 2, 1932: Lou Comiskey, recently inheriting the Chicago White Sox from his father, Charlie Comiskey, hires former superstar Shoeless Joe Jackson, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, as his team's chief scout for the Southeastern United States.

(When I first wrote this, I forgot that Jackson was illiterate. Well, maybe he got somebody to teach him how to read. After all, helping Shoeless Joe Jackson is still an honor in TTL.)

September 3, 1937: For the first time, a player scouted by White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson plays in a major league game. Pitcher Kirby Higbe, like Joe a South Carolinian, is a late-season callup, and outduels Bob Feller and the Indians, 1-0.

June 12, 1939: The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, New York. Of the 26 people who have been elected, 12 are still alive, and 11 of them take part in an official photo. They are:

1936 inductees Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson,

1937 inductees Connie Mack, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker.

1938 inductees Shoeless Joe Jackson and Grover Cleveland Alexander.

1939 inductees Eddie Collins and George Sisler.

Ty Cobb, one of the 1936 charter inductees, was delayed on route from California, and was not in the picture.

(There are conflicting reasons as to why Cobb didn't make it in time for the picture. The one I like the best is that he and his fellow Georgian, Commissioner Landis, hated each other's guts, and the Georgia Peach -- who got the most votes in that first election in '36 and is thus technically the first man elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame -- wanted to show the Judge up. The inductees who were already dead in 1939 were: 1936 inductee Christy Mathewson; 1937 inductees Morgan Bulkeley and Ban Johnson, first Presidents of the National and American Leagues, respectively; 1938 inductees Alexander Cartwright, who comes closer than anybody else to being the inventor of baseball, and Henry Chadwick, whose writing did so much to popularize the game in the mid-19th Century; and 1939 inductees Cap Anson, Charlie Comiskey, Candy Cummings, Buck Ewing, Willie Keeler, John McGraw, Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourne, Al Spalding and George Wright. All the deceased '39 inductees were star players in the 19th Century, although Comiskey, Spalding and Wright were elected mainly as executives and McGraw as a 20th Century manager. Later in 1939, a dying Lou Gehrig was voted into the Hall in a special election.)

September 29, 1940: The White Sox clinch their first Pennant in 15 years, defeating the Browns, 1-0, to finish a tough four-team race, one game ahead of the Tigers, two ahead of the Indians and three ahead of the Yankees. This will be the only pennant between 1936 and 1943 that the Bronx Bombers do not win.

Outfielder Enos Slaughter collects four hits, and pitcher Kirby Higbe shuts the Tribe out. Both men had been scouted by Hall-of-Famer Shoeless Joe Jackson, Higbe from Joe's South Carolina, Slaughter from neighboring North Carolina.

(Slaughter was already with the St. Louis Cardinals at this point. Perhaps he still goes to the Cards in some sort of waiver-wire deal prior to the Cards' 1942 World Championship. It's not like baseball teams, including the White Sox, haven't let good players go too soon before and since.)

October 8, 1940: The Reds avenge their 1919 World Series loss to the White Sox, beating them 2-1 in Game 7. Paul Derringer outduels Higbe.

December 5, 1951: Shoeless Joe Jackson, Chicago White Sox left fielder, .360 hitter, scouter of no fewer than seven White Sox All-Stars of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, dies at his home in Greenville, South Carolina. He is 62 years old.

April 15, 1952: The White Sox open the season at Comiskey Park. A monument to Shoeless Joe Jackson, who died the preceding December, is unveiled in front of the center field fence. The Sox lose to the Indians, 3-2.

(A 3-2 loss to the Indians at Comiskey was the actual result of the ChiSox' '52 lid-lifter. Monuments on the field were unusual but not unheard of. The New York Giants did it first, putting one to Eddie Grant in center field at the Polo Grounds. Grant was the most notable of the MLB players killed in action in World War I. In 1932, the Yankees began what became Monument Park with a monument to Miller Huggins, who managed them to 6 Pennants and 3 World Championships before dying in 1929. That same year, the Pittsburgh Pirates dedicated the Dreyfuss monument in Forbes Field, to team owner Barney Dreyfuss and his son, team treasurer Samuel Dreyfuss, who had both recently died. Most subsequent memorials, though, would be on the fence, including six at the Polo Grounds and five at the pre-renovation Yankee Stadium, along with the on-field Monuments to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.)

September 22, 1959: The "Go-Go" White Sox clinch their first pennant in 19 years with a 4-2 win over the 2nd-place Indians in front of over 75,000 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Ex-Indian Early Wynn gets the win, with Gerry Staley saving the game in the 9th.

October 2, 1959: Hal Jeffcoat, the last player scouted by the late White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson, makes his fellow South Carolinian proud by shutting down the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seventh-inning relief effort, and the White Sox take a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series, 3-1.

October 8, 1959: The White Sox win their first World Series -- the first for either Chicago team -- in 34 years, beating the Dodgers 3-0 at Comiskey Park. There is pandemonium on the South Side, and on the West Side, and in the Loop, and even a few people on the North Side defy the prevalence of Cub fans to celebrate there.

(The Dodgers beat the White Sox in 6. This would be the only Pennant won by the RL-White Sox between the 2nd term of Woodrow Wilson and the 2nd term of George W. Bush.)

October 4, 1964: The White Sox beat the Kansas City Athletics, 6-0 at Comiskey Park, and clinch the Pennant. This turns out to be the end of the long Yankee dynasty, which had won the last 4 Pennants and 28 in the preceding 43 years.

(The Yankees won the Pennant by 1 game over the White Sox and 2 over the Baltimore Orioles. The White Sox would not get this close to the postseason again until 1983, or to a Pennant until 2005.)

October 12, 1964: The White Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1, as Gary Peters outduels Bob Gibson, and they take the World Series in 5 games.

September 20, 1972: The White Sox complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum, winning 6-3. Dick Allen and Bill Melton hit home runs to support the pitching of Stan Bahnsen, who wins his 20th game of the year. Rookie Rich Gossage strikes out Joe Rudi, Reggie Jackson and Gene Tenace in the ninth inning to end it. The win vaults the Sox into first place, and they will win the American League Western Division and beat the Tigers for the Pennant.

(The Sox finished 2nd to the A's in the AL West.)

October 22, 1972: The White Sox again play the Reds in a World Series. The Pale Hose win, 3-2 at Comiskey Park, and win Game 7 to take the Series. Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood pitches 8 strong innings, while Terry Forster gets the save in the 9, striking out Pete Rose to end it.

August 7, 1977: The White Sox complete a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, 3-2 at Royals Stadium (later renamed Kauffman Stadium). The Royals never recover, and the White Sox win the AL West. But they will lose the American League Championship series to the Yankees.

(The reverse happened: The "South Side Hit Men" got swept by the Royals, fell out of first place, and made the Playoffs exactly once, 1959, between 1919 and 1983.)

November 6, 1977: White Sox owner Bill Veeck sells half of the shares of the team to Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. With their money added, the team is able to resign slugging outfielders Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble, so they did not leave as free agents. They will also sign free agent pitcher Mike Torrez, weakening the New York Yankees, the team that gave them the most trouble in the regular season and then beat them in the Playoffs before winning the World Series.

(Not yet selling out to "The Reinhorn Twins" prevented Veeck from re-signing Zisk and the Big O, and sent the ChiSox into a tailspin that they didn't get out of until their '83 Division Title.)

March 29, 1978: The White Sox trade pitcher Francisco Barrios and a minor leaguer to the Indians for pitcher Dennis Eckersley. Barrios had drinking and drug problems and would become one in a long line of tragedies to befall the Indians, dying in his native Mexico in 1982. Eckersley also had a drinking problem, but would later overcome it.

(This is all as in RL, except Eck got traded to the other Sox, the Red ones in Boston.)

October 1, 1978: Baseball's regular season ends. In the American League Eastern Division, the Yankees finish first for the 3rd straight year, beating the Milwaukee Brewers by 6 1/2 games, the Orioles by 9 and the Red Sox by 12. In the West, the Royals finish atop a five-way tie for second, five games ahead of the White Sox, California Angels Texas Rangers. In the National League East, the Philadelphia Phillies squeeze out a 1 1/2-game win over the Pirates, and the Dodgers beat out the Reds by 2 1/2 games in the NL West. The Yankees will beat the Dodgers in the World Series.

(Mike Torrez gave up the home run to Bucky Dent the next day, but people tend to forget that he won 16 games that year, second on the Red Sox to Eckersley's 20. If they're both on the White Sox, they contend, the Red Sox don't, and Bucky Dent... still becomes a Yankee Legend because he's the MVP of the '78 World Series.)

September 6, 1979: Led by the quartet of Eckersley, Torrez, Steve Trout and Ken Kravec, the White Sox complete a four-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim, effectively ending the AL West race. But the Sox will lose the Pennant to the Orioles.

October 31, 1979: Dick Allen announces his retirement. The 37-year-old slugger hangs up his spikes having hit 444 home runs, mostly for the Phillies and White Sox.

(Due to injuries and, uh, personal problems that he has since overcome, Allen finished with 351 home runs. But from 1964 to 1972, he was one of the very best hitters you'd ever want to see.)

September 1, 1980: White Sox co-owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn buy the remaining half of the team's shares from Bill Veeck. They also announce that, following the close of the season, Comiskey Park, the team's 70-year-old home, will undergo a two-year renovation, similar to what happened with Yankee Stadium in New York in 1974 and '75. The Sox will play two years at Wrigley Field, home of the crosstown Cubs, and will reopen "the Baseball Palace of the World" in 1983, "better than ever," or so "the Reinhorn Twins" claim.

April 12, 1983: Comiskey Park reopens after a two-year renovation, with wider seats, aisles and concourses, and added bathrooms and concessions. The much larger upper deck puts fans considerably farther away from the action, but the removal of the park's support poles means there are no obstructed-view seats, and an expanded bleacher section means more seats are affordable than ever before. Seating capacity is 44,702, roughly what it had been before the renovation.

Statues of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Luke Appling, Luis Aparicio and Bill Veeck line the 35th Street side of the stadium, while the team's retired numbers line the outfield wall: Nellie Fox's 2, Appling's 4, Minnie Minoso's 9, Aparicio's 11, Gary Peters' 12, Kirby Higbe's 13, Dick Allen's 15, Ted Lyons' 16, Billy Pierce's 19, Early Wynn's 24 and Al Lopez's 43. However, the Orioles spoil the opener, winning 10-8.

(Each of those numbers is correct, although Peters started out wearing 12 and later switched to 43 after Lopez was no longer manager. But only those of Fox, Appling, Minoso, Aparicio, Lyons and Pierce have been retired. The White Sox have since added the 3 of Harold Baines, the 35 of Frank Thomas and the 72 of Carlton Fisk.)

July 6, 1983: The 50th Anniversary All-Star Game is held at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the site of the first Midsummer Classic in 1933. California Angel Fred Lynn, a Chicago native, hits the first grand slam in All-Star history, and the American League beats the National League, 13-3.

October 8, 1983: The White Sox tie up the American League Championship Series with the Orioles, winning a tense Game 4, 1-0. Eckersley strikes out 15 Orioles, breaking the ALCS record set three days earlier by the O's' Mike Boddicker. Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle wins the game in the bottom of the 9th with a home run that rattles the recently-renovated rafters in the left-field roof at Comiskey Park.

October 9, 1983: The White Sox win the Pennant, taking the decisive Game 5, 6-2 over the Orioles. Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt, who had won Game 1, wins Game 5 and the ALCS MVP, and Julio Cruz goes 4-for-4, steals 3 bases and scores 3 runs.

October 18, 1983: The Chicago White Sox win Game 6 over the Phillies, 4-1, and take the World Series in front of 44,785 maniacs in Comiskey Park.

A 7th-inning home run by Harold Baines off the venerable Steve Carlton gives the Sox the lead, and Carlton Fisk, his Sox now White instead of Red, adds an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, though waving his arms to keep the ball fair is not necessary, as it seemed to be in the 1975 Series.

The White Sox have now won 7 World Series since the crosstown Cubs last won it in 1908, and have won 4 Pennants and made 6 trips to the postseason since the last Cub Pennant and postseason series in 1945.

November 12, 1983: The Chicago White Sox trade relief pitcher Salome Barojas to the crosstown Cubs for three minor leaguers.

October 6, 1984: Salome Barojas relieves Scott Sanderson in the fifth inning, and pitches shuout ball the rest of the way, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres, 5-3 at Jack Murphy Stadium in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, giving the Cubs their first Pennant since 1945. But they will lose the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Their 39-year Pennant drought is quenched, but their 76-year World Series thirst continues.

(Now you know why I mentioned the RL-nonexistent Barojas trade: So the Cubs don't overwork Lee Smith, and he doesn't give up that walkoff homer to Steve Garvey in Game 4 and blow the Pennant in Game 5.)

August 3, 1986: It is Induction Day at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The honorees are: Willie McCovey, slugging first baseman for the 1960s-70s San Francisco Giants; Bobby Doerr, slick-fielding second baseman for the 1940s-50s Boston Red Sox; Ernie Lombardi, powerful catcher for the 1930s-40s Cincinnati Reds; and Dick Allen, a third baseman-turned-first baseman who pounded out home runs for the 1960s Philadelphia Phillies and the 1970s Chicago White Sox.

July 31, 1988: The Baseball Hall of Fame inducts Willie Stargell, slugging first baseman for the 1960s-70s Pittsburgh Pirates, and Minnie Minoso, the major leagues' first black Hispanic player, who starred with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s.

(Neither Allen nor Minoso is in the Hall, but Minoso should be. I actually attended both the '86 and '88 induction ceremonies. I also went to the one in '94, for Phil Rizzuto.)

September 19, 1990: The White Sox complete a 3-game sweep of the A's in Oakland. For all intents and purposes, they have ended the race for the AL West title. They will beat the Red Sox for the Pennant, but lose the World Series to, guess who, the Reds.

September 29, 1996: The Cubs play their last game at Wrigley Field before the start of renovations undertaken by their owners, the Chicago Tribune Company. They want a larger, more comfortable stadium with the old atmosphere retained, to better compete with the crosstown White Sox, whose Comiskey Park they will share for the 1997 season. The Cubs go out with a whimper, losing 8-3 to the Pirates.

June 16, 1997: The Cubs are very rude to their hosts in the first regular-season series between the North Side Cubs, wearing replicas of their 1908 World Championship uniforms, and the South Side White Sox, wearing replicas of their 1919 World Championship uniforms. Having to share Comiskey Park while Wrigley Field is being renovated, the Cubs win the first game that counts between the two since the 1906 World Series, 8-3. The Sox will rebound to properly defend their house, winning the next two games and taking the 3-game series.

October 15, 1997: The Orioles defeat the Indians 1-0 on a home run by catcher Lenny Webster off Jose Mesa in the bottom of the 11th inning, to win Game 6 of the ALCS and their first Pennant in 18 years. O's legend Cal Ripken will finally get to appear in a World Series.

(He doesn't make it to the 1983 Series because of the White Sox. In RL, it was Tony Fernandez of the Indians homering off Armando "Worst Big Game Pitcher Ever" Benitez, and Mesa instead blowing Game 7 of the World Series.)

October 26, 1997: The Orioles win their first World Series in 27 years, defeating the Florida Marlins, 2-0 in Game 7 in Miami. After 16 years in the major leagues, Cal Ripken, the Orioles' Hall-of-Famer in waiting, finally wins a World Championship.

April 3, 1998: Wrigley Field reopens for its 84th season of play with wider seats, fewer support poles, an extended upper deck and bleacher sections, and all the modern amenities, but with the same old brick wall around the field, new ivy covering the outfield portion of the wall, and the same old hand-operated scoreboard on top of the bleachers. Despite the wider seats, capacity has actually increased to 40,667.

A moment of silence is held before the opener for legendary Cub broadcaster Harry Caray, who died in the off-season. Another Cub TV legend, Jack Brickhouse, will also die during the season. But today is mainly a happy occasion, as the Cubs' long-term future in Chicago and in Wrigley Field is secured, and they beat the Montreal Expos, 6-2.

September 2, 1998: The renovation of Wrigley Field has changed the park's wind currents significantly. The wind no longer blows in, only out. Sammy Sosa hits his 62nd home run of the sesaon, breaking Roger Maris' 37-year-old record, and the Cubs beat the Pirates, 8-4.

All season long, Sammy has been battling for the record with Mark McGwire of the Cubs' arch-rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Mark now has 59, so while the race to break the old record is over, the race to establish a new record is very much alive.

(I first wrote this before Sammy's halo got tarnished, but also before McGwire's did, and also before the more damaging stories about Barry Bonds got out. Bonds does not break the single-season record in TTL.)

September 27, 1998: Sosa hits hits 75th and last home run of the season, helping the Cubs beat the Houston Astros, 5-4, and clinch the wild card in the National League Playoffs. McGwire finishes with 70 homers, also far beyond the old record. Although the Cubs will beat the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series, the Padres will get revenge for the 1984 NLCS by beating the Cubs to win their first Pennant.

October 8, 2000: Despite having the best record in the American League during the regular season, the Central Division Champion White Sox fall to the wild-card Seattle Mariners in a tough five-game series. (They got swept in RL.)

October 14, 2003: The Chicago Cubs win the National League Pennant, their first in 19 years and only their second in the last 58. They defeat the Florida Marlins, 3-0 in Game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.

There is a heart-stopping moment in the top of the 8th inning when, with the Cubs needing just 5 more outs to win the Pennant, a fly ball is hit down the left field line. Left fielder Moises Alou jumps to make the catch, but it pops out his glove. He manages to grab it with his bare hand. "I'm just glad I didn't try that at the old Wrigley Field," he said, "before the renovation. That extra 2 feet of foul territory might have led to some dumb fan trying to grab a souvenir and stop me from making the catch." It's just a blip on the radar screen of baseball history. The Cubs winning the Pennant is much more than a blip.

October 25, 2003: The Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 95 years, defeating the Yankees, 3-0 at Yankee Stadium in Game 6. Matt Clement becomes the third Cub pitcher to toss a shutout against the Yanks, following Mark Prior in Game 1 and Kerry Wood in Game 5.

July 31, 2005: The Baseball Hall of Fame elects Wade Boggs, sensationally-hitting third baseman for the 1980s Boston Red Sox and 1990s New York Yankees; Ryne Sandberg, slugging second baseman for the 1980s-90s Chicago Cubs; and Rich "Goose" Gossage, the great relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees in the 1970s and '80s.

(Gossage got into the Hall in 2008. Having been a rookie on the 1972 World Champion White Sox, he gets over the top sooner.)

October 26, 2005: The Chicago White Sox defeat the Houston Astros, 1-0, and complete a sweep of the World Series. The Pale Hose have now won 9 World Series: 1906, 1917, 1919, 1925, 1959, 1964, 1972, 1983 and 2005. This proud franchise has won more World Championships than any other baseball team except the New York Yankees, who have won 26.

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