Since interleague play began in 1997, the White Sox and Cubs have routinely played each other six times each year (one three-game series at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.) The Crosstown series www.crosstownclassic.com is just about even, with 37 wins for the Chicago White Sox and 34 for the Chicago Cubs. There have been six series sweeps since interleague play began: four by the Cubs in 1998, 2004, 2007, and 2008, and two by the White Sox in 1999 and 2008. In 2008, the teams played each other as leaders of their respective divisions for the first time ever: the White Sox in the American League Central and the Cubs in the National League Central.
Life-long Cubs fan and Chicago native Floyd Sullivan has followed the series since it began, as well as other exhibition games between the Cubs and Sox through the years. Sullivan is the author of a new book Waiting for the Cubs: The 2008 Season, the Hundred Year Slump and One Fan's Lifelong Vigil. www.waiting4cubs.com When it comes to the Sox-Cubs meetings, once known as "The Windy City Classic" and "The Red Line Series," Floyd says, "The two three-game series, this weekend on the North Side and then at U.S. Cellular Field June 25 through 27 are among the most anticipated sporting events in the city and always among the most difficult tickets to come by. Along with opening day, and any playoff series either team is fortunate enough to get into, the two teams and their loyal fans look forward to these games perhaps more than any others."
But has it always been so? "Since the introduction of interleague play between National and American League teams in 1997, these games are actually counted in the won and loss columns of the Cubs and Sox, but when the tradition first started over a century ago, the games were played strictly for city bragging rights," Floyd says.
The Cubs and the Sox played their first Crosstown series in 1903 as soon as the two leagues decided to cooperate instead of warring with each other as they had done since the founding of the American League in 1901, Floyd adds.
"Both teams realized there was money to be made and so scheduled a 15-game postseason 'City Championship Series' to be staged at the same time the first World Series was being played in Boston and Pittsburgh," Floyd says. "They called the series a tie after each team had won seven games. The tradition would continue almost every year until World War II, except in years one, or both, teams played in the World Series So in many ways, even after 100 years, baseball in Chicago hasn't changed, and that includes the Cubs/Sox rivalry."
Floyd looks back at the Crosstown Rivalry:
THE 1906 WORLD SERIES
The event that perhaps fueled this passionate yet "mostly friendly" rivalry that divides North Side and South Side, friends, neighbors and family members was the 1906 World Series between the "Hitless Wonders" White Sox and the Cubs. At West Side Park during that series, the heavily favored Cubs lost to the Sox in six games. But for those six games, Chicago was baseball mad, the city was the capital of the baseball world, and all other business seemed to come to a screeching halt.
"By the way, the last game of the 1906 World Series was played on October 14. The Cubs last won a World Series on October 14, 1908. And on October 14, 2003, Steve Bartman reached for a foul during the National League Championship Series allegedly sparking one of the worst meltdowns in Cubs history." Floyd points out. "My birthday is October 14, so I've often wondered if my Cubs obsession was preordained by forces beyond my control! "
THE MODERN ERA
After World War II, the Cubs and Sox often played single exhibition games, usually for charity. These games were characterized by lineups that featured a lot of bench players and often minor leaguers called up to get a taste of the big leagues. The most famous example of this was the "Crosstown Classic" played in 1994 when Michael Jordan suited up for the Sox and played right field. But since 1997 the games have counted.
" And, so, as the book describes, when my family lived in Pennsylvania and traveled to Cub games around the east, we planned our trips home to Chicago around the Cubs/Sox Crosstown series, now often dubbed the Red Line Series because the CTA Red Line stops at both ballparks," Floyd says.
"That year Wrigleyville was a big party," he continues. "We got into the first game of the series but had to spend our entire budget on Standing Room tickets, which tells you how popular the series has become."
Floyd goes on: "For Game Two we sat on Waveland Avenue with our son, Steve, who lived across the street from the left field bleachers Young fans played bean-bag toss and partied on the street. Steve also put a TV screen in his first floor apartment window for fans like us who couldn't get in. At one point a paddy wagon stopped in front and we thought it might be for us because there were some adult beverages involved. But no, we were fine. The police just wanted to pause and watch the game on Steve's TV."
The Cubs swept that series. But the Sox returned the favor and swept the Cubs on the South Side. As we go into play tomorrow, the Sox lead overall 37 games to 35 since the beginning of interleague play in 1997. But Cub fans are looking forward to taking over the series lead this weekend. "And we'll be there, back in SRO!" Floyd declares.
"WAITING FOR THE CUBS"
Chicago writer publishes memoir detailing a season of following the Cubs from ballpark to ballpark and city to city.
While living in "Cub exile" in York, Pennsylvania, Floyd Sullivan wrote the stories of one dramatic season, the 1908 Cubs -- the last Cub team to win a World Series -- and fifty years of waiting for that next world championship. Lifelong Cub fan Sullivan saw the 2008 baseball season coming and so decided to chronicle the Cubs and their campaign to win a World Series for the first time in a century. He wanted to compare that year's struggles to those of the World Champion 1908 Cubs. The result is his book, Waiting for the Cubs: The 2008 Season, the Hundred Year Slump and One Fan's Lifelong Vigil, that has just been released by McFarland.
"I had been researching the 1908 Cubs for several years," said Sullivan. "We traveled to the Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, to New York, Pittsburgh and back home to the Chicago History Museum and the Chicago Public Library."
Wading through files, rolls of microfilm and dozens of books, Sullivan learned the fascinating story of a team that probably never should have been in the World Series in the first place. Then, as 2008 approached he decided to compare the unbelievable events of 1908 to those of 2008, as that latter season unfolded from "pitchers and catchers report" to the last out of the playoffs. "While living in York, we put 200,000 miles on our car chasing the Cubs!"
The book's epilogue details a wonderful story of a chance meeting with a Cubs star in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "It was a great way to cap a season that was full of ups and downs in many ways," continued Sullivan. "From driving in torrential downpours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to street parties on Waveland Avenue to visits to the sites of the old, now long-gone ballparks of a century ago. I certainly enjoyed working on Waiting for the Cubs, and hope that all of those regular fans that make up Cub Nation, from coast to coast and around the world, will enjoy reading it.
Sullivan describes the inspiration behind Waiting for the Cubs: "We were lifelong Chicagoland residents (Oak Park and the North Side) until circumstances, both personal and professional, took us first to the Elgin area, and then to Ohio and finally Pennsylvania. Our dedication to and pride in Chicago came out in many ways, but the most intense manifestation of these emotions took the form of rabid Cub loyalty," he says. "We had always been Cub fans, but, somehow, living in other states made that attachment more and more urgent as the years went by. We found ourselves rationalizing long and longer drives to see the Cubs in person. As 2008 approached, I thought it would be fun to chronicle our experiences of the season that would be the centennial of the Cubs' last World Series Championship, and compare that year to 1908. Along the way, as I wrote about our often nightmarish trips to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC to see the Cubs, memories of over 50 years of attending games often came to mind and so I worked them into the story as well."
Sullivan and his family moved back to Chicago last year and are very happy living 1.6 miles west of Wrigley Field.
Waiting for the Cubs is now available from McFarland (www.mcfarlandpub.com), Amazon, barnsandnoble.com and at independent booksellers in the Chicago area. Check the book's website waiting4cubs.com for events and availability, and to follow the author's blogs about the Cubs.
Upcoming events for Waiting for the Cubs:
During "Lit Fest" on Printers Row
Printers Row Wine Shop
719 S. Dearborn, Chicago
June 12 : 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
June 13 : 10 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
3444 N. Clark, Chicago (just south of Wrigley Field, where Clark meets Sheffield)
June 17, 18, 19. 4:00 PM (stop by after the Cubs games!)
Here is where you can buy the book:
Mustard Seed Bookstore, 1143 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago (just east of Broadway, near Loyola) http://www.mustardseedchristianbooks.com/
Bookworks, 3444 N. Clark, Chicago (just south of Wrigley Field, where Clark meets Sheffield) http://www.thebookworks.com/
Printers Row Wine Shop, 719 S. Dearborn, Chicago (heart of Printers Row!) http://www.printersrowwine.com/
Order it online at: