Chicago Cubs History

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team that plays in the National League Central Division of Major League Baseball in the United States. The Cubs were originally known as the White Stockings and were a founding member of the National League in 1876. It wasn’t until 1907 when the team officially became known as the Chicago Cubs. The team plays its home games at Wrigley Field, their home ballpark since 1914, located in the Lake View neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago.

Chicago Cubs History

The team first began to play organized baseball in 1870, under the name Chicago White Stockings Base Ball Club. The Chicago White Stockings played their first game on April 29, 1870, defeating the Union Club of St. Louis 7-1.

In 1871, the White Stockings became a charter member of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which was also known as the National Association. The club had plans with the city of Chicago to build a ballpark in the area then known as Lake Park, currently the location of Grant Park. Unfortunately, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the team’s equipment, uniforms, and wooden stadium. Following the tragedy, the team dropped out of the National Association during the city’s recovery period, returning until 1874, when the White Stockings moved to the 23rd Street Grounds to play its home games.

A few years later, William Hulbert, the president of the Chicago White Stockings, was a key figure in forming the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs following the 1875 season. Hulbert was able to convince the owners of the St. Louis Browns, Hartford Dark Blues, Philadelphia Athletics among other teams to form the new National League, marking the end of the National Association.

Led by Adrian “Cap” Anson, the team won six National League pennants from 1876-1886, capturing league titles in 1876, 1880-82, 1885-86. During Anson’s era with the team, sportswriters began to refer to the club as the Chicago Colts or simply “Anson’s Colts” because of his dominance on the baseball field.

For nearly 40 years the National League Chicago Base Ball Club played in six different stadiums before permanently playing their home games at what has been called Wrigley Field since 1916; 23rd Street Grounds (1876-1877), Lakefront Park 1 (1878-1882), Lakefront Park 2 (1883-1884), West Side Park 1 (1885-1891), South Side Park (1891-1893), West Side Park 2 (1893-1915).

Following Anson’s departure from the franchise in 1897, the media began to refer to the team as the Remnants or Orphans. The nickname “Cubs” first appeared in the newspaper in 1902, gaining popularity through the next four years. In 1906, the team was only referred to as the Cubs and the team acknowledged the nickname in 1907. A cub was added to the team logo in 1908 and “Cubs” first appeared on uniforms in 1909.

From 1906-1918, the Cubs won five National League pennants; 1906-1908, 1910, and 1918. The team would go more than a decade before winning its next pennant but captured the league title in 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945. The next National League pennant won by the Cubs came in 2016, the same year they won their first World Series championship since 1908.

Chicago Cubs Championship History

The first official World Series in Major League Baseball history happened in 1903. During their franchise history, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series three times. The first two championships came in consecutive years, winning back-to-back titles in 1907 and 1908. The Cubs did not win their next World Series until 2016 when they ended the longest championship drought in American sports history.

In total, the franchise highlights three titles: 1907, 1908, and 2016.

1907 Cubs vs. Tigers

The 1907 World Series featured the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. The Cubs ended the regular season with a 107-45 record, winning the National League pennant by 17 games. Meanwhile, the Tigers went 92-58, finishing 1.5 games ahead of the second-place team in the American League.

The 1907 World Series took place between Oct. 8-12, as the Cubs beat the Tigers, winning the series 4-0. The first three games were in Chicago, while games 4 and 5 were in Detroit. The first game of the series ended in a tie. The Cubs outscored the Tigers 16-3 in the four games they won.

Jack Pfiester, Ed Reulbach, Orval Overall, and Mordecai Brown were the winning pitchers for the Cubs.

1908 vs. Tigers

The 1908 World Series featured the first rematch in the early history of the event, as the Cubs and Tigers once again matched up for the championship. The Cubs won the World Series 4 games to 1, outscoring the Tigers 24-15 in the five-game series.

Mordecai Brown and Orval Overall each won two games as the starting pitchers for the Cubs, while George Mullin was credited with the lone Tigers win in the series, earning the victory in Game 3.

2016 Cubs vs. Indians

While the Cubs appeared in several World Series in the next 108 years, the team did not win their next title until 2016. After winning the division by 17.5 games and leading MLB with 103 wins, the Cubs began the 2016 postseason by facing the San Francisco Giants.

The Cubs defeated the Giants 3 games to 1, clinching the divisional round series by coming back from a 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning of Game 4. In the National League Championship Series, the Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 2, clinching their first NL pennant since 1945. Javier Baez and Jon Lester were named co-NLCS Most Valuable Players.

The 2016 World Series pinned the Cleveland Indians against the Cubs. The Indians stormed out to a 3-1 series lead, but the Cubs erased the deficit and on Nov. 2, 2016, the Cubs defeated the Indians 8-7, in Game 7 to win the World Series 4 games to 3. Ben Zobrist was named World Series MVP.

Chicago Cubs Playoff History

Since 1876, the Chicago Cubs have won 17 National League pennants, but Major League Baseball officially started to count postseason play in 1903, when the first World Series happened, featuring the winners of the National League and American League.

Since MLB began to recognize the playoffs, the Cubs have officially made 21 postseasons in team history.

From 1906-1945, the Cubs won 10 National League pennants, making 10 World Series appearances. They won three straight pennants in the 1900s, 1906-1908, winning the World Series in 1907 and 1908.

In the 1910s, the club won two pennants in 1910 and 1918 but did not win either World Series. From 1929-1945, the Cubs won another five pennants but were unable to win a World Series title in any of those five appearances.

The franchise then entered a long playoff drought after 1945, not appearing in the postseason until 1984. After finishing the 1984 regular season with a 96-65 record and winning the National League East Division Title, the Cubs matched up against the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series. Despite having a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, the Cubs lost three games in a row and were eliminated by the Padres. San Diego went on to lose the World Series to the Tigers.

The Cubs won their second East Division title in 1989, ending the season with a 93-69 record. The Cubs faced the Giants in the National League Championship Series and lost to San Francisco 4 games to 1. The Giants eventually lost the World Series to the Oakland A’s.

The Wild Card era in Major League Baseball began in 1995 and in 1998 the Cubs made the playoffs as a Wild Card team. The Cubs were swept by the Atlanta Braves in three games.

In 2003, the Cubs won their first Central Division title and played the Braves in the division series. The Cubs beat the Braves 3 games 2, winning their first postseason series since 1908 when the Cubs won the World Series. The Cubs were then eliminated from the playoffs by the Florida Marlins, losing in seven games after going up in the series 3 games to 1. The Marlins then won the 2003 World Series, defeating the New York Yankees.

The Cubs won back-to-back Central Division championships in 2007 and 2008, but both teams were swept in three games by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Dodgers, respectively, in the divisional round of the playoffs. Despite the failure in the playoffs, this marked the first time since 1907-1908 that the Cubs made the postseason in two straight seasons.

In 2015, the Cubs won 97 games and were the second Wild Card team in the National League. They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card Game and then defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the division round to advance to the NLCS for the first time since 2003. The New York Mets beat the Cubs in the 2015 NLCS 4 games to 1, before losing to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

The following season, the Cubs had the best record in MLB, won the Central Division, and defeated the Giants in the divisional series and the Dodgers to clinch their first NL pennant since 1945. The Cubs ended their World Series drought, beating the Indians 4 games to 3, winning their first World Series title since 1908.

The Cubs won their division again in 2017 and advanced to their third consecutive NLCS after beating the Washington Nationals in the divisional round. The Cubs were bounced from the playoffs by the Dodgers, losing the NLCS in five games.

In 2018, the Cubs made it to the postseason for the fourth year in a row, the first time in team history that has happened. It was the club’s third playoff appearance as a Wild Card team. The Cubs hosted the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card Game and lost 2-1 in 13 innings.

The 2020 MLB season was cut to 60 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cubs ended the regular season with a 34-26 record, winning their sixth Central Division title. The Cubs were then eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Marlins, losing both games of the best-of-three series.

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famers

There are officially 15 players who are recognized as Chicago Cubs Hall of Famers, as designated by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The list below includes the name of each player and the year they were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ernie Banks – 1977

Mordecai Brown – 1949

Frank Chance – 1946

Kiki Cuyler – 1968

Johnny Evers – 1946

Gabby Hartnett – 1955

Billy Herman – 1975

Ferguson Jenkins – 1991

Ryne Sandberg – 2005

Ron Santo – 2012

Lee Smith – 2019

Bruce Sutter – 2006

Joe Tinker – 1946

Billy Williams – 1987

Hack Wilson – 1979

As of 2021, 11 of those 15 players appear in the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Cubs cap on their respective plaque. Brown, Evers, and Tinker do not have a logo on their Hall of Fame plaques, while Sutter has a Cardinals cap on his.

Chicago Cubs Retired Numbers

The Chicago Cubs have six retired numbers including #42 for Jackie Robinson.

The following numbers have been retired by the Cubs for players who were on the team throughout the franchise’s history; 10, 14, 23, 26, 31. The #31 is retired for two players.

Ron Santo, #10 – retired in 2003

Ron Santo played in 2,102 games for the Cubs from 1960-1973 and was a nine-time All-Star third baseman during his Cubs career. Following his playing days, Santo remained a beloved figure in Chicago and served as the team’s radio color commentator from 1990-2010. Santo was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Ernie Banks, #14 – retired in 1982

Ernie Banks is the team’s all-time leader in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), and total bases (4,706). He won National League MVP in 1958 and 1959. Known as “Mr. Cub” Banks was a 14-time All-Star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Banks was the first player the Cubs retired a number for.

Ryne Sandberg, #23 – retired in 2005

Ryne Sandberg was a 10-time All-Star second baseman with the Cubs and also won nine gold gloves for his defensive work. The right-handed hitter finished his career as a .285 hitter, with 282 home runs and 1,061 RBIs. Sandberg went into the Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year the Cubs retired his number.

Billy Williams, #26 – retired in 1987

“Sweet swinging” Billy Williams was the second player in team history to have his number retired. Williams was a six-time All-Star and was named 1961 National League Rookie of the Year with the Cubs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, after hitting 426 home runs in his career.

Ferguson Jenkins, Greg Maddux, #31 – retired in 2009

The Cubs waited until 2009 to retire the #31 as Greg Maddux joined fellow pitcher Ferguson Jenkins in the Baseball Hall of Fame that year. Jenkins led the National League in wins twice during his career, making four All-Star teams and winning the 1971 Cy Young Award. Maddux led the National League in wins three times and won the ERA title in the National League four times during his career. Maddux was also an eight-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in four consecutive seasons, from 1992-95. Jenkins was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, while Maddux was inducted in 2009.

Chicago Cubs History FAQ

Who could be the next Cubs Hall of Fame Player?

Sammy Sosa is still on the Hall of Fame ballot, but voters haven’t been kind to the steroid era sluggers, Sosa included. It’s possible Sosa can make it via the veteran’s committee. Jon Lester could be a Hall of Famer, but he also has ties to the Boston Red Sox.

What Cubs player will be next to have their number retired by the team?

Sammy Sosa is the logical answer, as he carried the franchise for the better part of a decade. However, the relationship between the team and the former slugger remains less than ideal. Although loved by many in the fan base, Sosa’s number might not be retired in the immediate future.

Who is the Cubs’ all-time leader in home runs?

Sammy Sosa is the all-time Cubs leader in home runs with 545. He’s ahead of Ernie Banks, who hit 512 in his Cubs career, while Billy Williams is third on the list with 392. Sosa also has the three highest home run totals in a single season in Cubs history; 66, 64, 63, in 1998, 2001, and 1999, respectively.

Who is the Cubs’ all-time leader in hits?

Cap Anson is the Cubs’ all-time leader in hits according to Baseball-Reference, which lists his hit total at 3,012 when he was with the Chicago White Stockings. Ernie Banks is second on the all-time Cubs hit leaderboard with 2,583, which is ahead of Billy Williams, who had 2,510 hits with the Cubs.

Who is the Cubs’ all-time leader in strikeouts by a pitcher?

The all-time strikeout leader in Cubs history by a pitcher is Ferguson Jenkins. He struck out 2,038 hitters in his Cubs career. Jenkins is the only pitcher on the list with more than 2,000 strikeouts. Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood, Charlie Root, and Rick Reuschel round out the top-five for most strikeouts.

Who is the Cubs’ all-time leader in wins by a pitcher?

Charlie Root leads the Cubs in all-time wins with 201. Root also leads the Cubs in games played by a pitcher (605) and innings pitched (3,137.1). Root pitched for the Cubs from 1926-1941, making 339 starts in his 16 years with the team. His career-high in wins came in 1927 when he went 26-15.

Who have been all the owners of the Cubs?

There have been 12 owners of the Cubs since the team’s inception in 1870. William Hulbert, Albert Spalding, Jim Hart, Charles Murphy, Charles Phelps Taft, Charles Weeghman, Albert Lasker, William Wrigley Jr., Philip K. Wrigley, William Wrigley III, Tribune Company, Tom Ricketts.

What is the Billy Goat Curse?

This curse that supposedly kept the Cubs from winning the World Series until 2016, started because Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis’ pet goat named Murphy was bothering fans during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. He was asked to leave and Sianis declared, “them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”