On the eve of World War II, baseball truly was America's national pastime. Little could anyone predict the changes and sacrifices that would be imposed on the sport during the early 1940s. As the war was coming to an end in 1945 and a jubilant mood was overtaking the country, baseball was back in full swing and the Chicago Cubs were on top of their game.
How did the Cubs clinch the pennant in 1945 and go to the World Series? Simply, they fielded, hit, and pitched better than any other team in the league. How did they then lose the championship to the Detroit Tigers, a team with one of the most mediocre records in pennant history? And why haven't they been back since?
One thing is clear: 1945, the last time the Cubs went to the World Series, was a turning point in the team's fortune. For in the first half of the twentieth century, few teams were as good as Chicago; in the second half, few teams were as bad.
Between 1900 and 1945 the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant ten times and had more first division finishes than any other team in the league and only one last-place finish. Between 1946 and 1990, the Chicago Cubs finished in the National League basement nine times, and went 20 consecutive seasons in the second division between 1947 and 1966.
Charles N. Billington's fast-paced narrative of this historic season includes an inning-by-inning account of critical games, highlights of winning streaks and road trips, and a discussion of how and why the team ultimately unravels. Incorporating statistical analysis, descriptions of key teams, and player biographies, Billington paints an evolving and exciting portrait of the 1945 Cubs and the wider national baseball scene of a war-torn era.
|Baseball During War Trivia|
• Cubs History
Baseball During World War II
Why was the national anthem not sung before every game in 1945?
What was the important role of Roy Nelson at Wrigley Field during the wartime era?
What war-related reasons affected major league attendance records during WWII?
How did the war affect players' compensation?
Why were signing bonuses for ball players (not yet popular in general) non-existent during WWII?
Why were blackouts and dimouts at ballparks, especially those on the Eastern seaboard, commonplace during WWII?
What was the name for games that extended into the maximum of one hour of artificial light allowed after sunset at the
Polo Grounds and at Ebbets Field in New York?
What is a balata ball?
What happened during an infamous collection drive at New York's Polo Grounds in September of 1942?
Since what year have Cubs games been on the radio?
What was the trademark line of legendary Cubs announcer Bert Wilson of WIND?
In what year did the Cubs become the first team in National League history to draw more than one million fans?
What two sportswriters eventually did stints as Cubs' general managers in the early part of the 20th century?
Who was the Cubs' first Latino player?
What are some of the reasons for the Cubs' quick postwar decline?
The 1945 Cubs
Who were some of the Cubs' strongest players in 1945?
Which 1945 Cub is one of only nine grandfather-grandson combinations to play in the major leagues?
What did the ethically-minded Philip K. Wrigley do when he recruited Len Merullo away from his final year of college at
From what teenage tragedy did Andy Pafko miraculously recover?
What crowning touch did Andy Pafko achieve during the September 1945 game in which he received gifts and public praise
from the Chicago Slovak Goodwill Club for being such an upstanding member of the Chicago Slovak community?
What team trend began after Cubs catcher Paul Gillespie became impressed with a certain aspect of a Boston waiter's
appearance in early July 1945?
Which 1945 Cubs pitching dynamo was also known for his volatility, clubhouse pipe smoking, gourmand inclinations, and
Which member of the 1945 Cubs team made an incredible recovery due to a can of exploding tar?
Which 1945 Cub was taught his sinker and curveball by the legendary Peaches Davis, and wore a corset when he pitched
because of the workplace accident that excluded him from the draft (he worked in the Oklahoma oil fields off-season)?
Which 1945 Cub was a milkman in Chicago's Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods during the off-season?
Which 1945 Cubs pitcher was a tung oil farmer in Mississippi during the off-season?
Which 1945 Cub and Chicago native was a National League Batting Champion and Most Valuable Player in 1945?
Which 1945 team member became the first Cub to win a batting champ title since Heinie Zimmerman hit .372 in 1912?
What 1945 Cubs player turned player-manager was fired by Wrigley when told the Cubs wouldn't be competitive in
Who was the only player on the 1945 Cubs whose father had played in the Majors?
What mid-season purchase showed Cubs management's commitment to winning the pennant?
The 1945 World Series
How did the Cubs win the pennant?
Of 80 sport writers of the day, how many picked Chicago to win the World Series in 1945?
Why did Philip K. Wrigley not travel to Detroit for the first three games of the 1945 World Series?
How much did Cubs' World Series tickets cost in 1945?
What did the IRS do in response to the 1945 World Series ticket scalpers?
What crowd control device newly developed by Galvin Manufacturing Company (later renamed Motorola) was employed in
Chicago during the 1945 series by Andy Frain ushers?
The wives of the Chicago players and sportswriters were involved in what early "crisis" of the 1945 World Series?
What was financially notable about the 1945 World Series?
What was memorable about the length of Game Six of the 1945 World Series?
The 1945 Cubs ended the second phase of their season with what winning percentage?
When in 1945 did the Cubs secure the first place position?
When the Cubs led the National League at the end of August, 1945, how far ahead of the Cardinals were they?
How many last place finishes would the Cubs experience in the 20 years after their exuberant 1945 season?
What new major league record did the Cubs set when they won their second game against the Dodgers on September 16,
What is the middling claim-to-fame of the 1945 Detroit Tigers?
How would the 1945 Cubs' record hold up in 2003?
What was significant about the Cub's third-place finish in 1946?
What was the Cubs' best record in the 18 years after their 1945 pennant win?
How many U.S. cities had professional minor league teams in the 1930s, at the peak of their popularity?
How is the incident on August 19, 1941, when Pirates manager Frankie Frisch attempted to get umpire Jocko Conlon to call
the game due to the rainy conditions, but is instead thrown out, best remembered?
What upstart baseball organization drained many good players from the major leagues in 1946?
National League History
Which National League team was the biggest disappointment of the 1945 season?
What National League team set two new records for futility in the 1945 season?
Who shepherded three legendary teams to greatness (Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Yankees)?
Who was the first team to offer season tickets (1934), the first to travel by plane (from St. Louis to Chicago, 1935),
and the first to broadcast their games on radio (1934)?
National League Players of the Wartime Era
Who was the first major league ball player to enlist in WWI, then later re-enlisted at age 54 in 1943 to serve in
Who incredibly hit nine balata balls out of park in 1943 to lead the team in homers?
How old was the youngest person ever sent in to pitch a major league game?
Who ended up becoming one of the era's best southpaw pitchers because as a youth he was too impatient to wait for his
broken right arm to heal?
Who wrote a colorful depiction of 1930s/1940s major league baseball, including a whole chapter devoted to the Dodgers'
exploits with Ernest Hemingway during spring training in Havana, Cuba?
Who spent time in prison for writing bad checks after 12 distinguished years in the major leagues, then went on to become
a prison guard?
What was remarkable about major leaguers Dick Sipek, who played for Cincinnati in 1945, and his father, New York Giants
pitcher, Luther "Dummy" Taylor?
Which wartime Dodgers player was one of the few baseballers exempt from the military because of his height?
What are Tigers Pitcher Paul "Dizzy" Trout's ironic connections to Chicago?
The Wartime St. Louis Cardinals
What team could claim the strength of their 4-F players as an important reason for their consecutive pennants in 1942,
1943, and 1944?
Which team made more than half a million dollars between 1939 and 1942 selling aging players' contracts to other
Despite the tremendous popularity of minor league baseball in the United States in the first part of the 20th century,
which three teams of the wartime era had no working agreement with minor league teams?
The Postwar White Sox
What famed White Sox outfielder joined the team in 1951, kicking off perhaps the greatest decade in Sox history?
Who added to the White Sox's success in the decades after WWII, by bringing fireworks, giveaways, and exploding
scoreboards to Comiskey Park?
How did the White Sox postwar attendance compare with the Cubs?
What things gave the Cubs an advantage over the White Sox with the Baby Boomers growing up in the 50s and 60s, thus creating a legion of future fans?