...And That's My Opinion©

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon

We’re Still Waiting!

                 …the 1945 World Series

 

Le Moyne Grammar School is located at 851 Waveland Avenue, within the shadows of Wrigley Field.  In October 1945 I was a student at Le Moyne Grammar School. No, I was a pupil; I don’t think that I was a student. . In October of 1945 the Chicago Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the baseball World Series. We were all Cub fans, teachers and pupils alike.

 

It was difficult enough to concentrate on ones studies during the regular baseball season. There was fan cheering and other reactions echoing across the neighborhood, plus the booming voice of the field announcer Pat Piper “Have your pencils and scorecards ready for today’s staring lineups.” It was a mantra for those of us who were “tied” to our desks. But at World Series time our teachers let us listen to the radio (T.V was just a dream). All games were day games. Truth be known, our teachers had the same Cub disease, as did we. When we fell in the playground, we bled blue—Cubby Blue

 

Everyone had a favorite player. Mine was third baseman Stan Hack. Smiling Stan Hack had a career batting average of 301 and was one of the most popular players in baseball. William Veeck signed him personally to the Cubs in 1931. He was a singles, doubles hitter and scored more than 100 runs seven times and led the league in stolen bases in 1938 and 1939.

 

He retired (the first time) in 1943 because he disliked the new Cub manager Jimmy Wilson. When Charley Grimm replaced Wilson, Stan Hack returned to third base and in 1945 hit a career high of 323, helping to drive the Cubs to the National League pennant for the fourth time. In those days there only two leagues: the American and the National. The winners of each played in the World Series. There were no round-robin playoffs (quaint don’t you think?) It was often said that, “Stan had more friends than Leo Durocher had enemies”.

 

I had Stan Hack pictures all over my room. As I grew older, however, I changed them to the more adult pin-ups.

 

Sometime in the 1970s, while I was traveling for Broyhill Furniture Industries, I made a call to a customer in Dixon, Illinois and discovered that Stan Hack managed the Landmark Restaurant in nearby Grand Detour, Illinois.  In the entrance to the Landmark was the largest collection of Chicago Cub memorabilia I had ever seen: uniforms, photos of players, coaches, radio announcers and executives, scorecards and equipment. Everything there was to collect was there.

 

As I walked through the dining room door imagine my surprise, there at the bar was Stan Hack. I felt like a giddy teenager at a rock concert. Well, I walked up to him and said “Mr. Hack you were my boyhood idol”.  Shaking my hand, he said, “it’s still Stan and let me buy you a drink”.  He did and then I did and then we had a few more. Eventually he had to leave and I had to eat. I could hardly wait to return to my hotel room to tell Carol of this great event (this was before cell phones-if you can imagine such a time.)

I went there a few more times.  Sometimes Stan was there and sometimes he was not. One time I took Carol with me on a business trip to the area. I took her to the Landmark Restaurant hoping to introduce her to the legendary Stan Hack. Alas, he was not there. On December 16th 1979 Stan Hack died after an extended illness.

 

Some had other favorites, Phil Cavaretta, Bill Nicholson, Andy Pafko, Peanuts Lowry to name only a few.

 

But back to the World Series. The first game pitted 25 game winner “Prince Hal” Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers against newly acquired Hank Borowy, who came from the despised New York Yankees, where he had won 10 games. He won 11 more for the Cubs to help fight off the even more despised St Louis Cardinals (even then!!)  The Tigers were pumped up by the return of Hank Greenberg and Virgil Trucks from World War II. The Cubs won 9-0.

 

Trucks pitched a seven hitter in game two and won 4-1 as Hank Greenberg hit a three run homer in the fifth inning

 

In game three Rudy York’s (hey, White Sox fans remember him) single with two out in the second inning spoiled Claude Passeau’s bid for a no hitter. He allowed no other hits and won 3-0.

 

Game four went to Detroit 4-1 behind Dizzy Trout’s five hit pitching.  It was at this game that tavern owner Billy Sianis bought a ticket for his goat but was refused admission because the goat smelled. An appeal to owner P.K. Wrigley was turned down.  Sianis thereupon cast a “goat curse” on the Chicago Cubs who lost the game and eventually the series.  Afterwards Sianis sent a telegram to Wrigley saying “who stinks now?”

 

In game five it was once again Newhouser, whose season ERA was 1.81, against Borowy.  Unfortunately Borowy was pulled in the sixth inning. Greenberg hit three doubles and Tigers won 8-4.

 

Trucks and Passeau pitched against each other in game six. The Cubs had a four run fifth topped by a bases-loaded single by Stan Hack. In the seventh inning Detroit scored twice.  In the bottom of the seventh inning the Cubs scored twice and the score was 7-3 Chicago. But Detroit scored four runs in the eighth; the game-tying run was a Hank Greenberg homer.  Dizzy Trout came on in relief in the bottom of the eight for Detroit.  Charlie Grimm once again called on Borowy for the top of the ninth, which eventually became the bottom of the twelfth when Stan Hack hit a drive to left field that took a bounce over Greenberg for a double scoring the winning run and an 8-7 Cub victory.

 

The seventh game as on Wednesday October 10th, a school day.  If anyone was in school I could not tell because I was not. My friends and I decided to play hooky and try and sneak into the bleachers.  We had a favorite plan, which we had executed successfully during the regular season. We were undaunted by the threat of the Truant Officer (they really did exist in those days).  Policemen would try not to see the kids if they were swift and deft.

 

 

Our modus operandi was to scoot up to the top of the bleacher box office, which provided a launching pad to boast up into the bleachers and then scurry along the concourse of the right field into the grandstands and never stop moving. Sometimes the Andy Frain ushers would catch one or two of us. But most of the time, most of us made it. Those who did not were relegated to begging stubs from departing fans, who elected not to return, generally in late innings. In any event, I wonder how the kids sneak in now?

 

Well, for game seven Detroit went to a well-rested Hal Newhouser, who incidentally led the American League in strikeouts for the second successive season. Charlie Grimm, making possibly the worst decision in baseball history, called once again on Hank Borowy. Remember Hank had pitched the final four innings of the twelve-inning game six on Oct.8th and also the sixth inning of game five on Oct 7th. He would be going into the seventh game on Oct 10th with only one days rest. He did not last long.  Detroit put up five runs in the first inning. That was all Newhouser needed, yielding ten hits and striking out ten Cubs for a 9-3 victory and the Cubs lost the series.

 

And the rest is history—at least until Oct. 2003. 

 

The Cubs are no longer Steve Goodman’s “doormat of the National League” 

 

…but we’re still waiting!

 

....And that's my opinion

….And I'm Sandy Goldman

Send me your e-mail address or those of others who would be interested and I'll add them to my rapidly growing distribution list.

 

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