The last time the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series was 1945, 71 years ago. The Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the series and it was the first time the Cubs had been in the World Series since 1938. The Tigers won the series, four games to three.
During Game 4, the Curse of the Billy Goat legend was born.
Here’s a look at the 1945 World Series and how the Tigers beat the Cubs.
Baseball Writers Had Fun Joking About the 2 Teams Before the Series Started
According to Burge Cameron Smith’s book The 1945 Detroit Tigers, baseball writers in New York, Washington and even in Chicago were making fun of the Tigers and Cubs’ horrible records in the World Series. By 1945, the Cubs’ World Series-winning drought was already 37 years old. The Tigers, who beat the Cubs in the 1935 series and lost the 1907 and 1908 series to the Cubs, were looking for just their second series title.
As Smith notes, when Chicago writer Warren Brown was asked who he thought would win the 1945 Series, he replied, “I don’t think either one of them can win it.”
“It’s the fat men versus the tall men at the office picnic,” New York writer Frank Graham said of the series.
In fact, there are just two players who were involved in the series who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and both played for the Tigers: legendary slugger Hank Greenberg and pitcher Hal Newhouser. No members of the Cubs team made the Hall of Fame.
The pitcher who took led the Cubs to the series and past the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t even start the season on the team. As Baseball Almanac notes, pitcher Hank Borowy had a 10-5 record with the New York Yankees when the Cubs picked him up on waivers in July. He then won 11 of 13 decisions for the Cubs.
The Cubs finished the 1945 season with a 98-56 record. The Tigers had a 88-65 record.
The Cubs Had Home Field Advantage, but the Series’ First 3 Games Were Played in Detroit
Although the Cubs had the home field advantage, the series started on the road with three games at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium. During World War II, the World Series followed an odd 3-4 format, instead of 2-3-2 to cut down on travel. The Cubs did well in Detroit, winning two of the three games. During the last game in Detroit, Claude Passeau pitched a one-hitter for the Cubs.
When the series went back to Wrigley, it changed quickly. The Tigers won the first two games and evened the series. In game 6, Borowy saved the day by pitching the last four innings in a back-and-forth game that ended 8-7 with the Cubs winning.
However, game 7 didn’t go the Cubs’ way. Amazingly, Borowy was called on to start the game, but he couldn’t even get out of the first inning on such short rest. While the Cubs went through six pitchers that day, Newhouser pitched a complete game for the Tigers. The final score was 9-3, even though the Cubs had one more hit than the Tigers’ nine. The Cubs just couldn’t string their hits together and get enough runs across the plate.
The series was played between October 3 and October 10, 1945. The only off-day in the series was between games 6 and 7. Greenberg hit three home runs in the seven games.
The Curse of the Billy Goat Was Born During Game 4
The Curse of the Billy Goat was, according to legend, born during game 4 of the 1945 World Series. The story goes that Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis took his goat named Murphy to Wrigley. He was asked to lave because fans didn’t like the smell and animals weren’t supposed to be in the stadium.
Sianis was angry and put a curse on the team. “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” he supposedly shouted when he left Wrigley.
The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since. As for the Tigers, they have won the World Series just twice since 1945 (1968 and 1984).
The Box Scores
The above video is the complete radio broadcast of game 7.
Here are the box scores for each game, via Baseball Almanac.
Game 1 (October 3, 1945)
Game 2 (October 4, 1945)
Game 3 (October 5, 1945)
Game 4 (October 6, 1945)
Game 5 (October 7, 1945)
Game 6 (October 8, 1945)
Game 7 (October 10, 1945)