The Chicago Cubs had a lot going for them in 1935, including their “Big Four” pitchers (Charlie Root, Larry French, Bill Lee, and Lon Warneke), first baseman Phil Cavarretta (one of the all-time greats), and future Hall of Famers Billy Herman at second base and catcher Gabby Hartnett, who would attain near legendary status three years later with his famous “homer in the gloamin’.” (Shown here at Wrigley Field is Gabby (left) with Billy.)
Unfortunately, even with all this talent the team just couldn’t put up many wins. On September 4, the Cubs were in third place with 23 games left to play, and few sportswriters gave them much of a chance at the pennant. “They did a good job,” recalled John Carmichael, longtime sports editor of the old Chicago Daily News, “but they were always in trouble. The opposition always had men on base.”
But then began one of the great stretch runs in baseball history. The bats of the Cubs “cracked out like big metronomes,” as the Chicago Tribune reminisced in 1986. From September 4 through September 27 the North Siders won 21 games in a row, clinching the pennant on the 27th following the first game of a doubleheader. As the Associated Press reported: “Rising to the crest of baseball greatness and crushing even the mighty Dizzy Dean with a devastating 15-hit barrage, the sensational men of [Manager Charlie] Grimm capped their almost unbelievable drive today by battering the Cardinals 6-2 for their 20th straight victory and the National League pennant.” Gabby Hartnett paced the team with his .344 batting average, taking home Most Valuable Player honors.
Their “unbelievable drive,” however, faltered in the World Series. A few sportswriters saw it coming, including veteran scribe Bill Corum, who wrote: “Chicago has a pretty fair pitching staff, particularly . . . Lonnie Warneke. But he’s no Dizzy Dean. Besides, experience has taught me to be just a little suspicious of any ball team coming off a long winning streak. A hot team can go cold on you as quickly as a pretty gal who gets a call from Clark Gable.”
Although the Cubs started with a 3-0 win behind Lon Warneke, the Detroit Tigers persevered, winning 4 games to 2 for their first-ever world championship.