Before They Were the Cubs

The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team


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SKU: 9781476674674 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Founded in 1869, the Chicago Cubs are a charter member of the National League and the last remaining of the eight original league clubs still playing in the city in which the franchise started. Drawing on newspaper articles, books and archival records, the author chronicles the team’s early years. He describes the club’s planning stages of 1868; covers the decades when the ballplayers were variously called White Stockings, Colts, and Orphans; and relates how a sportswriter first referred to the young players as Cubs in the March 27, 1902, issue of the Chicago Daily News.
Reprinted selections from firsthand accounts provide a colorful narrative of baseball in 19th-century America, as well as a documentary history of the Chicago team and its members before they were the Cubs.

About the Author(s)

Jack Bales is the Reference and Humanities Librarian at the University of Mary Washington Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The author of numerous books and articles, he lives in Fredericksburg.

Bibliographic Details

Jack Bales
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 262
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7467-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3506-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Chronology 6
Prologue 9
1. A New Team for Chicago (1868–1870) 11
2. A Fiery Second Season (1871) 47
3. Recovery After Disaster (1872–1875) 60
4. William Hulbert and the First League Pennant (1875–1876) 86
5. Reversal of Fortune (1877–1879) 108
6. Successes and Struggles (1880–1884) 122
7. On Top of the League (1885–1886) 142
8. Fading Glory (1887–1890) 162
9. Dark Days and Grim Years (1891–1902) 176
Postscript: Return to Greatness (1902–1908) 198
Appendix: Year-End Standings of the Chicago Team, 1871–1908 203
Chapter Notes 205
Bibliography 245
Index 247

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “While this book focuses on the first professional baseball team in Chicago, it also serves as an overview of the how the game developed throughout America…. extensive research…a solid historical work…valuable…recommended”—Choice
  • “A colorful narrative of baseball in 19th-century America…a must read…recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “What a book to whet the appetite of any baseball fan and a must-read for fans of the Chicago Cubs…a tremendous amount of research…the newspaper accounts of the day that are included are pure magic.”—The Free Lance-Star
  • “Jack Bales’ meticulously researched and documented book on the Cubs of the 19th century—and their glorious dynasty in the first decade of the 20th century—is also a compelling read about one of baseball’s most beloved franchises. The writing and the subject matter are first rate, and the illustrations are well-chosen and extremely well reproduced, making the book a visual as well as a textual pleasure. Not just for Cubs fans, any reader who enjoys—or wants to learn more about—19th century baseball will find this book fascinating.”—Tim Wiles, former research director at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, and lifelong Cubs fan
  • “One great thing about baseball is that its key issues repeat every generation: labor vs. management, values vs. market realities, fans vs. opponents. Jack Bales’ wonderful Before They Were the Cubs shows these issues emerging at the very beginnings of professional baseball and how the people who ran, played, watched, and wrote about the game dealt with its severe growing pains. As a Chicagoan, I found it especially fascinating!”— Stuart Shea, author, Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines.