As you may know, last Wednesday saw the Chicago Cubs baseball team win the World Series, their first time since 1908.
To put it in historical perspective, in 1908 Teddy Roosevelt was president of the U.S. (Taft was elected in November of that year). The Summer Olympics were moved to London because Rome was financially ruined by the eruption of Mt. Vesuius a couple years earlier. The first Model-T car was produced at the Ford plant in Detroit.
In the publishing world the #1 bestselling book of the year was Mr. Crewe’s Career by Winston Churchill. No, not that Churchill. This fellow was an American from St. Louis whose 1899 novel Richard Carvel sold two million copies! He was one of the bestselling novelists in the country for over a decade.
Take a look at this incredible list of other adult and children’s novels published in 1908:
L. Frank Baum, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (the fourth in the series)
G.K. Chesterson, (three books; one novel and two non-fiction) The Man Who Was Thursday, Orthodoxy, and All Things Considered
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
Jack London, The Iron Heel (one of the first dystopian novels of the modern era)
W. Somerset Maugham, The Magician
Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Circular Staircase
H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia and The War in the Air
It is a testament to some of these books that they are still beloved as much or more than the Chicago Cubs!
On a personal note: I grew up a Cubs fan despite growing up in Alaska and Hawaii. (Admittedly I switched allegiance when the Arizona Diamondbacks were formed in 1998.) My dad was born in a suburb of Chicago and that connection helped secure my loyalty.
A cherished childhood memory was going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in 1969. Our seats were along the first base line and we got to see Ernie Banks hit his 498th home run against the San Francisco Giants. (My favorite Cubs pitcher, Ferguson Jenkins was on the mound.) It was also exciting to see the famous Willie Mays warming up on the sidelines before the game, right in front of me, but he didn’t play in the game.
I found the box score for the game online. The Cubs won 12-2 and Fergie Jenkins pitched a complete game. He struck out Willie McCovey twice and Bobby Bonds (the father of Barry) in the game. The Chicago lineup also featured Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, and coach Leo Durocher. (By the way, just 10 days earlier we saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on a small black and white television in my grandfather’s living room.)
My 11-year-old heart was broken later that year when the Cubs faded in the final month (losing 17 of their last 25 games) and the “Miracle Mets” ended up winning it all.
Watching the Cubs become champions last week was surreal. My dad would have had a big smile and joined with the millions who declared “Holy Cow! The Cubs won the World Series!”