The 1906 baseball season saw the first one-city World Series. Over the next 83 years, there would be 14 more -- 13 played in New York. But the 1906 World Series was the first, last, and only all-Chicago affair.
In early June, player/manager Frank Chance's Cubs kicked off the greatest National League dynasty of the 1900s by building a big lead over John McGraw's Giants and then coasting to a major league-record 116 wins against only 36 losses.
First baseman Chance led an offense that outscored the nearest team by 80 runs; he tied Honus Wagner for the league lead in both runs with 103 and on-base average at .406. Chance anchored the National League's tightest-fielding infield, made up of .327 hitter and RBI leader Harry Steinfeldt and the immortal double-play combination of Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers.
Up-and-coming star Frank "Wildfire" Schulte led the Cubs outfielders with 13 triples and four home runs, and Jimmy Sheckard banged out 27 doubles. Chicago pitchers allowed only 381 runs, 89 fewer than the nearest team, and turned in a 1.76 ERA.
Four of the five Cubs starters -- Three Finger Brown, Ed Reulbach, Jack Pfiester, and Orvie Overall -- had ERAs below 2.00, and Brown's ERA of 1.04 is the second-lowest in history.
The Cubs finished a mere 20 games ahead of the Giants, who won 96 games. The entire second division -- Brooklyn, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Boston -- came in 50 or more games off the pace. Among the few offensive categories not dominated by Cubs were batting average, led by Wagner at .339, and slugging average, led by Brooklyn's Harry Lumley at .477.
Chicago's American League counterpart had a more difficult summer, as the White Sox wallowed in fourth place behind Philadelphia, New York, and Cleveland. Then in early August, the Sox reeled off an American League-record 19 straight victories to secure the pennant.
Unlike their crosstown rivals, the White Sox did not monopolize the offensive leader board, but their attack -- which produced 570 runs, third-most in the league -- hardly deserved its nickname, the "Hitless Wonders."
Chicago had no sluggers to compare with St. Louis' George Stone, the league leader in batting at .358 and slugging at .501, nor with Cleveland's Elmer Flick, who knocked 33 doubles and a league-high 22 triples.
But slugging was not the name of the game in the dead-ball era. Fielder Jones' Sox scratched out their runs by drawing walks (outfielders Jones and Ed Hahn were two and three in the American League in free passes) and working a running game (both second baseman Frank Isbell and first baseman Jiggs Donahue were in the Top Five in stolen bases).
It was only in pitching where the White Sox could compete with the Cubs. But even with ace Doc White (who won the ERA title at 1.52) and Ed Walsh (the author of a league-leading ten shutouts), the American Leaguers went into the 1906 World Series as distinct underdogs.
Played in snowy October weather in Chicago, games one through four were understandably low-scoring. Nick Altrock beat the Cubs 2-1 in the opener, played in the Cubs' West Side Park, and Walsh won game three 3-0.
But going into the fifth game, the Series was tied 2-2. Then suddenly, the Hitless Wonders' bats caught fire, defeating Reulbach 8-6 and banging around both Brown and Overall to win the deciding game 8-3. The White Sox narrowly outhit their opponents, .198 to .196, but more than halved the mighty Cubs' ERA, 1.50 to 3.40.
Learn even more about highlights from the 1906 baseball season on the next page.
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