J. D. Thorne, speaker and author of the new book Baseball’s Winning Ways  (Available on Amazon Books).

“Cubs Forgotten History”

After Gabby Hartnett’s reign as Cubs manager had run out in 1941, taking over as manager was Jimmy Wilson, a 40 year old World-Series hero for the Reds in 1940.  He was accompanied by James T. Gallagher who became General Manager.  Gallagher was a formerly well-known and respected Chicago Sportswriter.    Former Cub’s player and manager, Charlie Grimm, was brought in as a coach.  “If I don’t win,” declared Manager Wilson. “I expect to be fired anyway.”

He was right, but it took a while.  In the eight team league, Jimmy Wilson  as Cubs manager finished sixth in ’41 and ’42, and fifth in ’43.  Things looked better for the 1944 season, “but when the Cubs went out and lost eight straight early in the fight, Jimmy separated himself from the job and, as was inevitable, Grimm was back in the saddle again.” (Ed Burns in The National League, 1959, by Grosset and Dunlop, Inc., at page 136,).  “Jollie” Charlie took over an 8th place team on May 7 of that year; and finished a respectable 4th with the same talent.  He still hadn’t managed a second division team in several years work in the major league.

As wartime teams went, it wasn’t a bad team Grimm put on the field in ’45.  Stan Hack, Phil Cavarretta, Peanuts Lowrey, [Boyceville, Wisconsin “Bulldog”] Andy Pafko, Bill “Swish” Nicholson, pitcher Claude Passeau, Hank Wyse, and Paul Derringer were the big guns.  They were joined in the middle of the season by the mysteriously-waived Hank Borowy from the Yankees.  Borowy sparked the Cubs to the pennant by winning 11 out of 13 games.  But once again the North Siders had one of its short-lived celebrations.  Short-lived because the Tigers whipped the Cubs in the World Series, taking the rubber match of a seven game duel, 9 to 1.  That was the closest the Cubs came again until 2016.

The bad news now for a Cubs fan is the time it may take to rebuild another champion?  For example, from 1910 to 1914, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia’s A’s won 3 WS Championships with its “$100,000” infield, featuring “Home Run” Baker at 3B, and future HOF 2B Eddie Collins.  Collins went on to star with the “South Siders.” Fortunately, Collins was never approached to take money from the gamblers in the “Black Sox” scandal year of 1919.

But in 1915 all the infielders left Philadelphia to go to the higher paying “Federal League.” Unfortunately, it took Connie Mack 14 years to make the World Series again in 1929. Then they beat the Cubs of Joe McCarthy in six games.  But that is another story, and the point is that it took 15 years in time for Athletics of Connie Mack to build another winning team.

Hopefully the current North Siders can do better!

Lots of fun ahead to see what happens!


Sporting Chance Press includes books on sports including baseball. Our baseball books:

The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy’s Principles for Baseball (and Life)  also by J. D. Thorne

Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle

Baseball’s Winning Ways