Mordecai ''Three Finger'' Brown posted an ERA of 0.00 during the 1908 Series.
Mordecai ''Three Finger'' Brown posted an ERA of 0.00 during the 1908 Series.

The last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series the President of the United States was Teddy Roosevelt and Indian Head pennies were still being minted. Arizona and New Mexico were Territories rather than states and the maiden voyage of Titanic was four years away. The year was 1908.

The Cubbies were a powerhouse. In 1906 they won a record 116 games during the regular season but lost the World Series to the cross-town rival White Sox in six games. In 1907 they won the National League again and blitzed the Detroit Tigers in the Series. The closest the Tigers came to winning a game came in Game One when the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie in twelve innings. The following year the Cubs and the Tigers met once again.

The Cubs made it into the 1908 series on a miracle. They almost lost a key game (and the pennant) to the Giants on September 23, but Fred Merkle of the Giants didn't touch second base as what should have been the winning run crossed the plate. Evers retrieved the ball, stepped on the bag for a force play, negated the run and the game was declared a tie. The Cubs won the make-up game for the title.

The Detroit team was a formidable foe, featuring superstar Ty Cobb and slugging Sam Crawford. The Cubs were loaded with legends, including the famous double-play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. They also had the pitching, with Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and Orval Overall. Brown posted an ERA of 0.00 during the 1908 Series, while Overall wasn’t far behind at 0.98, yielding two runs in 18.1 innings of work.

In the first game the Cubs trailed going into the ninth, but they put together six consecutive singles and worked a double steal for a 10-6 win. The Series moved from Detroit to Chicago for Game Two and the Cubs dominated behind Overall, 6-1.

Trailing 3-1 after five innings of Game Three, the Tigers put together a rally of their own, pounding out six hits and scoring five runs in the top of the sixth. They went on to win, 8-3.

It was back to Detroit for Game Four and Brown shut 'em down on four hits for a 3-0 Cubs victory. Needing just one more win for their second straight world championship, the Cubs sent Overall to the hill. He was untouchable, twirling a three-hit shutout for a 2-0 win in front of the smallest World Series crowd in the 20th century. Only 6,210 fans showed up.

This was to be the last hurrah for the next 94 years! The Cubs made it back to the World Series in 1910 but lost to the Philadelphia Athletics in five games. They also made the Series in 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945 but fell short of the crown.

It's 2003. Is this finally the Cubs' year? They're off to a strong start under new manager Dusty Baker and they're winning even with Sammy Sosa on the disabled list. Maybe…

Go Cubs!

The storied combo of Tinker, Evers and Chance.
The storied combo of Tinker, Evers and Chance.

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).