The Cardinals play the Cubs tonight for the first time this season. This short 2 game series takes place at the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field. The Cubs won’t be visiting the lovely, lush fields of Busch Stadium until June 17.
I live in southwestern Illinois, and when some people discover I’m a Cardinals fan, they say, “Well, you live in Illinois, so why aren’t you a Cubs fan?” For two reasons: 1. St. Louis is much closer to where I live than Chicago; and 2. Why would I, as a baseball fan, want to swear my allegiance and loyalty to perpetual losers like the Cubs? Then there’s the whole upstate Illinois/downstate Illinois thing, but that’s not relevant to this discussion.
It’s a friendly rivalry for sure, unlike the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees, whose fans can be nasty and vicious at times. Cards fans drive up Highway 55 to see their team play at Wrigley Field and vice versa for the Cubs fans. The geographical closeness between the two cities make for a natural rivalry. When there’s a Cards/Cubs game at Busch, you will hear friendly razzing between the fans.
Occasionally, there will be a relationship where one spouse is a Cubs fan and the other spouse is a Cards fan. That makes me shake my head – why would you marry someone who doesn’t love the same baseball team you do? Love conquers all, I guess. Family members’ loyalties are sometimes split between the Cards and the Cubs, especially in central Illinois where the games of both teams are broadcast.
Let’s face it – the Cards have the upper hand in this rivalry. The Cards have won 11 World Series and the Cubs have won 2. The Cubs have a baby bear on their uniforms while the Cards have the beautiful birds on a bat, with the word “Cardinals” in red script (or “St. Louis” on the alternative jerseys). The Cards are playing in nice new Busch Stadium III, while the Cubs play in stodgy old Wrigley Field. The Cards also have more Gold Glover winners than the Cubs.
Several Cards players were once Cubs players, and vice versa. The most famous of these was the Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock trade on June 15, 1964. Some players who played for both teams include Bruce Sutter, Ryan Theriot, Joe Girardi, Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean and Dennis Eckersley.
I got to wondering just how this rivalry started, so I thought I’d do a little research. The rivalry actually started before the Cardinals and Cubs were even teams. The economic trade rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago led to the founding of the Brown Stockings (STL) and the White Stockings (Chicago) in 1875. The Brown Stockings dissolved but reformed as the Browns in 1882 and they played the Cubs (White Stockings) in a couple of pre-World Series matchups between the American Association St. Louis and Chicago teams. The first series meeting between the two teams were in 1885.
When the American Association folded, the Browns moved to the National League and became the Cardinals. The Cubs dominated during 1906-1908, winning 3 straight pennants and 2 World Series (and they haven’t won a World Series since 1908). The Cardinals finally got it together and won their first World Series in 1926. The Cards have been winning World Series and pennants ever since, unlike the Cubs, whose last won a pennant in 1945, thanks to the Curse of the Billy Goat.
In 2002, Darryl Kile died on a Saturday when the Cards were to play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Then-Cub 1B Joe Girardi (who became a Card for a while and who is now the Yankees’ manager) announced the news that there would be no game that day due to “a tragedy in the Cardinals family.” In 2007, the Cards were to play the Cubs when Josh Hancock died in a automobile accident and this game was postponed as well.
I have enjoyed the Cards-Cubs rivalry over the years. I once worked for an attorney who was a Cubs fan, because he grew up in Iowa. For Christmas one year, I got him a Cubs t-shirt. When his son was born, I bought him a photo frame with the saying, “Future Cubs Fan.” I work for an attorney now that is from Chicago, but he’s a White Sox fan. I told him I would really have given him grief if he had been a Cubs fan.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the Cards-Cubs rivalry. If you have any fun stories about the Cards-Cubs rivalry, please share by posting a comment. Thanks for reading! See you next time!
Bibliography: Wikipedia, “Cardinals-Cubs rivalry,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinals%E2%80%93Cubs_rivalry