Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs 101 - The Double Bills

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Throughout the long, painful history of the Cubs, perhaps the most important single event with the greatest impact on the organization was the slow sale of the team to William Wrigley starting in 1921. The team had previously changed ownership in 1914 when Albert Lasker bought the team and brought in lunchable legend Charles Weeghman (whose greatest contribution to the team was Weeghman Park, later known as Goat Curse Stadium).

William Wrigley - a chewing gum magnate (heh, magnate) - bought up the majority of the team's shares and had control by 1925. Consequently the Cubs would put together an incredibly strong team and remained competitive for years.

The only problem is that Wrigley's purchase of the team - initially an apparent godsend - would eventually fade into the worst ownership in baseball. But that's a story for another article. Instead let's look a little closer at a Cubs franchise that would reach the World Series 4 times in a 10 year period.

Thank Bill Veeck
Baseball must be genetic because the Veek family has been heavily influencing the game since William Veeck Sr. became the Vice President of the Cubs in 1917. Veeck's brilliant baseball mind was responsible for the formation of a Cubs team that would win pennants in 1918, 1929, and 1932 before he passed on in October, 1933. Veeck was also indirectly responsible for the planting of ivy along the brick walls at Wrigley as it was done by the product of his loins (Bill Veeck, legendary baseball owner) who'd do it in 1937.

Veeck would directly be responsible for the acquisition of legends Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett, Rogers Hornsby, and many, many more. For a time because of Veeck and Wrigley - known as the Double Bills - the Cubs were one of the best built organizations in baseball.

Probably my favorite stories center around Hack and Grover Cleveland Alexander (who was known as "Pete"). Alexander and Wilson are proof that drinking was always a part of Chicago Cubs baseball, as both men were raging alcoholics who would put up Hall of Fame-worthy numbers. They'd be influencing bleacher bums for decades after their final games with the Cubs.

And as somebody who obviously missed this era of Cubs baseball by about half a century, the thing I appreciate most in having the stories recounted to me is the cleverness of Veeck. Veeck was a wheelin', dealin' son of a gun who did things like acquire the previously mentioned Alexander for peanuts after he returned from the Great War a shell-shocked shadow of his former self (who'd still be able to outpitch pretty much anybody in the game) and Wilson, who Veeck cleverly stole from the Giants due to some General Managing shennanigans.

The only problem is that the Double Bills died within about a year of each other and the team was ill-prepared to exist without them. While Chicago was able to reach the Series three more times after they were gone, Wrigley was replaced by his inept son and Veeck was replaced by Wrigley's inept son's inept general manager. So. Should we be thankful for William Wrigley, who gave us Wrigley Field? Should we be thankful for Veeck, who gave us the aesthetical look of the ballpark? Or should we always wonder what it would've been like if the team had never been owned and operated by the Double Bills?

After all, a decade of brilliance hardly makes up for a century of losing, and as respected as William Wrigley is, his son P.K. should be loathed by Cub fans now and forever.

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