1908 World Series
The 1908 World Series matched the defending champion Chicago Cubs against the Detroit Tigers in a rematch of the 1907 Series.
In this first-ever rematch of this young event, the Cubs won in five games for their second consecutive title.
The 1908 World Series is significant for being the last World Championship for the Cubs as of 2009. The Cubs would go on to appear in the World Series in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, losing the Series all seven times. The Cubs had one of baseball's most dominant teams in the early 1900s, but unbeknownst to their fans in 1908 (the year "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" debuted) this would be the end of it, for at least a full century.
This was the year of the infamous "Merkle Boner" play that allowed the Chicago Cubs to reach the World Series after beating the New York Giants in a one-game "playoff", actually the makeup game for the tie that the Merkle play had caused.
The Series was anti-climactic after tight pennant races in both leagues. Ty Cobb had a much better Series than in 1907, as did the rest of his team. The final two games, in Detroit, were shutouts. This was also the most poorly attended Series in history, with the final game drawing a record-low 6,210 fans. Attendance in Chicago was harmed by a ticket-scalping scheme that fans accused the club's owner of participating in, and the Series was boycotted to some degree.
For the first time, four umpires were used in the series, in alternating two-man teams.
The fourth official World Series marked the third consecutive postseason championship appearance of the Chicago Cubs. After losing to their cross town rivals, the White Sox in 1906, the reigning National League champs made amends by sweeping Detroit in the 1907 Series. The Tigers had learned a hard lesson and were also determined to make a repeat appearance. They met their goal by winning the American League pennant on the last day of the regular season. The press played up the rematch on both sides as Chicago papers were filled with words like "repeat" while the Detroit papers used "revenge".
Game 1 recalled memories of the previous year's opener as the Tigers held a surprise lead going into the ninth inning. Once again, the Tigers watched their advantage fade away, although this year the game would not be called at a tie. Detroit pitcher, Ed Simmons continued to look strong going into the ninth as he retired Johnny Evers to open the inning. The twenty-four game winner was two outs away from Series leading victory, when suddenly everything folded. In what must have seemed like a recurring bad dream, Simmons yielded six consecutive hits resulting in five runs. Chicago snatched the lead and never looked back en route to a 10-6 triumph, using Orval Overall and Mordecai Brown in relief roles behind Ed Reulbach.
Chicago's Orval Overall was given the start for Game 2, having only served in a relief role in the Series opener and was paired up against the Tiger's ace Bill Donovan. Both pitchers went head-to-head for four innings straight with neither allowing a single hit in a 0-0 standoff. Three innings later, the Tigers had managed three hits and the Cubs had one. The game remained scoreless going into the eighth inning with both teams waiting for the other to blink. Donovan blinked first and ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Joe Tinker started the rally with a two run homer to right field and before the inning was over, the Cubs had four more hits and four more runs. Ty Cobb tried to generate some momentum with a run-scoring single in the ninth, but once again, Chicago prevailed, winning 6-1. The Cubs were on a roll and won their sixth consecutive Series game against the Tigers.
Detroit was finally able to break Chicago's post-season winning streak in Game 3 with a stellar performance on the mound by George Mullin. The Tigers' ace dominated the Cubs line-up allowing only seven hits in an 8-3 victory. The win appeared to breathe some life back into the perennial losers, but their renewed fervor didn't last long. In Game 4, they recorded a miserable four-hit effort in a 3-0 loss against Brown and they would never recover. Overall, who had performed so magnificently Game 2, was even better in Game 5. The twenty-seven year-old right hander allowed only three hits and struck out ten batters in the 2-0 triumph and back-to-back Series winner. The Tigers' embarrassment was dulled by the lack of witnesses in the stands as only 6,210 fans witnessed the finale in Detroit, the smallest crowd in Series history.
The Cubs became the first team to record three consecutive World Series appearances and two consecutive World Series victories with both championship wins coming off the heels of a record one-hundred sixteen victory season of 1906. In 1908, Chicago's West Side franchise was more than just a winning baseball team, they had just become sports first official "dynasty".
A year made little difference, as the 1908 Series was simply a rematch of the '07 Fall Classic. The big stories came before the World Series, as the Cubs and Tigers both captured their pennants on the very last day of the regular season.
In Detroit for Game 1, the Cubs trailed 6-5 as they came to bat in the ninth. Tigers knuckleballer "Kickapoo" Eddie Summers had been pitching well in relief to that point, but the Cubs strung together six straight hits and five runs against Summers for a 10-6 triumph.
The clubs traveled to Chicago for Game 2, which remained scoreless after seven innings. But just as they'd done in the ninth inning of Game 1, the Cubs exploded again, this time for six runs in the eighth. Shortstop Joe Tinker got things started with a two-run homer, and Orval Overall cruised to a 6-1 victory. The Tigers finally got on the board in Game 3, George Mullin taking credit for an 8-3 decision, Ty Cobb going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
Back in Detroit, Cubs ace Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown -- 29-9 during the regular season -- baffled the Tigers, allowing four hits and zero runs. Summers was no match for Brown, as the Cubs won 3-0. And it was more of the same in Game 5, with Overall performing shutout duties this time. The Cubs scored one in the first inning and one in the fifth. Overall did the rest, and Chicago clinched their second straight World Series Championship with a 2-0 win.