For Chicago Cubs fans, every spring for the last 108 years had been greeted with a mixture of optimism and resignation. That was the mindset required of fans whose team is one of the oldest in baseball—founded as the Chicago White Stockings in 1876, it became the Chicago Cubs in 1907—but also one of the most frustrating to watch every October. Until 2016, that is, when the Cubbies clawed back from a 3-1 World Series deficit against the Cleveland Indians to end the century-plus championship drought.
As the Cubs, the team achieved success quickly, beating the Detroit Tigers in back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. Over the next 43 years, though, the Cubs appeared in eight more championships, but never won another until 2016. Still, through it all, the Cubs remained a beloved team rather than just a perennial loser, and they are nothing if not colorful. Early on, when they were winning those World Series championships, a poem written by Franklin Pierce Adams about the double-play machine that was Joe Tinker (shortstop), Johnny Evers (second baseman), and player/manager Frank Chance (first baseman) introduced the phrase “Tinker to Evers to Chance” into the baseball lexicon. For years, the team owned by chewing-gum magnate Bill Wrigley played in a ballpark with ivy-covered fences in the outfield and no lights overhead, which meant the Cubs played only day games.
On the field, the Cubs’ roster has included such Hall of Famers as Ernie Banks, whose entire career with the team, from 1953 to 1971, as a shortstop and then first baseman, earned him the nickname, “Mr. Cub.” Third baseman Ron Santo was a dominant force in the 1960s and early 1970s, while second baseman Ryne Sandberg was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1984.