Chicago Baseball: the Iconic History and 5 Great Tips for Visiting a Game
Updated On: September 15, 2023
The city of Chicago is one of America’s most prominent sports hubs. It is home to a team in each of the five major sports leagues and is one of only four cities that have two Major League Baseball teams: the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
These teams represent two different sides of Chicago – the North and South. If you live in the city, it’s easy to decide who you support based on where you live. It becomes more challenging to pick a Chicago baseball team to cheer for when you live outside the city or are a tourist looking to catch a game. If you’re trying to choose who’s jersey to wear this season or need to know your way around a stadium, we’re here to give you the insight you need.
Why are there two Chicago baseball teams?
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are two of the most popular teams in Major League Baseball, both having won multiple championships throughout their histories. But since Chicago only has one team for all other major leagues, why does it need two baseball teams?
In Major League Baseball, the teams’ locations are based on population and fan markets. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why some of the largest cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, would have two teams. Since Chicago is the third largest city in America by population, it makes sense that they would need two teams as well.
Chicago baseball has thrived for over a century. The city has supported two teams even before the first World Series Championship was played – longer than any other city in the league. Between the North and South side fans and an ever-growing love for the sport, Chicago will continue to be a two-team city for generations.
Chicago Baseball: Chicago Cubs History
The Chicago Cubs have a great history which includes success, hardship, and of course, the famous Wrigley Field, the second-oldest baseball field in America.
In 1867, the Chicago Baseball Club was founded as America’s first professional sports club. They were located on the North side of Chicago and played nine seasons before the founding of the MLB. The team was dubbed the White Stockings based on their uniform colours and to contrast them with the Cincinnati Red Stockings in the same league.
On 8 October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out in the city and destroyed the stadium, uniforms, and equipment. Although it was a great tragedy, the fire did not stop the White Stockings. The players used borrowed uniforms and other teams’ stadiums to complete the 1871 season and finished 2nd in the League.
In 1876, the Major League Baseball League was formed, and the White Stockings joined the National League. They continued to see success both on the field and in the stands as they became more popular since recovering from the fire. During this time, the team began to be called the “Colts” by local newspapers, although it was never the club’s official name. This nickname came from their lead player and manager, Cap Anson. The years between 1876-1889 are considered the golden era for the club.
In the early 1900s, the American League joined the MLB, which sparked the team into overdrive. They dominated the sport and won back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908. During the 1907 season, the team officially rebranded to the Chicago Cubs.
In 1925, William Wrigley Jr., the successful chewing gum businessman, bought out controlling shares of the Chicago Cubs’ stock and renamed the West Side Park Stadium to Wrigley Field. Even though the name started as a sponsorship, it has become synonymous with the club, Chicago baseball, and is beloved by fans. For this reason, the name will probably never be changed.
After being a mid-table team for 20 years, the Cub’s luck would worsen in 1945. The Cubs had been successful that season and were playing against the Detroit Tigers for the World Series Championship. During game 4 of the series, William Sianis arrived with two tickets: one for him and one for his pet goat. They were allowed into the stadium but were asked to leave shortly after the game started because other fans complained about the goat. The man was outraged and declared that the Cubs would never win the championship again for as long as he lived. With this, the Curse of the Goat was cast upon the Cubs.
This curse stayed with the Chicago Cubs for 108 years. During this time, they became known as the “Loveable Losers” since their fans always filled the stadium no matter how poorly they performed. In 2016, the Chicago Cubs finally broke the curse when they won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. This win ended the longest sports drought in American history.
Chicago Baseball: Chicago White Sox History
The Chicago White Stockings were founded in 1900 and were named after the Cubs’ previous nickname. Newspapers shorted this name to the White Sox or just Sox, and it was embraced by the team when they put it on their scoreboard. The White Sox joined the American League and were located on the South Side of Chicago. Although they don’t have as much history as the Cubs’, the White Sox are a beloved Chicago baseball team.
In 1906, the Sox had the worst batting average in the American League but made it to the World Series. They played against their city rivals in the championship – the Chicago Cubs. This was the first and only time that the teams have faced off in a championship to this day. Even though the Cubs were heavily favoured to win, the White Sox would win in just six games.
Over the next decade, the Sox were a middle-of-the-table team. Then, in 1917, they pulled it together to have an amazing season. At the end of the regular season, their record was 100–54, which remains a franchise record to this day. They went on to win their second World Series championship that season.
Throughout the 1920s, the Chicago White Sox faced allegations of betting and fixing their games, including a World Series. These allegations hurt Chicago baseball as a whole and caused a decrease in the team’s popularity.
For the next 88 years, the White Sox worked to correct their team’s damaged reputation and build a new fanbase. They did not win any championships during this time, although they came close.
In 2005, the Sox’s drought finally ended. They won 99 games during the regular season and breezed through their division. The Sox faced the Houston Astros in the World Series Championship that season and won in 4 games – a clean sweep.
Since their latest World Series win, the White Sox have been in an on-off rebuild period which concluded in 2020. The years between 2005-2019 were very up and down for the Sox, from top 5 finishes in their division to the worst season in the team’s history.
5 Tips To Boost Your Chicago Baseball Experience
1: Take in the Scenery
If you plan to see a Cubs’ game at Wrigley Field, arrive early to enjoy the surrounding areas! The streets around the stadium are called Wrigleyville and are full of bars, shops, and fans. Even if you are not a Chicago baseball lover, it is hard not to get swept up by the energy that floods Wrigleyville.
This area is filled with foods and activities that everyone can enjoy. From photo ops for your Instagram to classic Chicago hotdogs and cold beer, walking around Wrigleyville is a must if you are out for an afternoon with the Cubs!
2: Enjoy the Local Foods
Every stadium has its own special menu items and local favourites, and the Chicago baseball stadiums are no different!
Wrigley Field hosts food stands with Chicago classics such as Vienna beef hotdogs, Garrett’s Popcorn, and Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Any true Chicagoan can tell you that these staples are worth it!
If you’re a South Side fan, Guaranteed Rate Field serves iconic Buona Italian beef sandwiches, pierogis, and loaded french fries. These dishes showcase the different groups of people calling Chicago home.
3: Try to Catch a Fly
Many seats around a baseball stadium come with the potential to take home some memorabilia. During the game, players may hit foul balls that are not in play, so make sure to keep your head up because a baseball could come flying towards you! It is a good idea to bring a baseball mitt if you have one, just in case you need to make a catch.
4: Meet the Mascots
Both Chicago baseball teams have their loveable mascots. For the Cubs, this is Clark the cub, while the White Sox have Southpaw running around the stadium.
Both of these characters can be seen throughout the crowds on game day and will be more than happy to take photos, sign autographs, and generally engage in some tomfoolery. Try to watch for these beloved mascots during your day at the ballpark, especially if you are there with children.
5: Embrace the Fanfare
Much of the enjoyment of a baseball game comes from the atmosphere and fanfare within the park.
Giveaways occur before the game starts and typically include bobbleheads, t-shirts, and hats that are given to the first 10,000 fans to arrive. These are great collector’s items and usually merchandise not sold in the team stores.
Between innings, Chicago baseball teams are known to have fan trivia, charity events on the field, and of course – sing during the 7th-inning stretch. While many fans use this time to get snacks or use the restroom, staying in your seat and participating in the filler events can be fun.
One of the most unique things about baseball games is the vendors going up and down the stands. No matter where you are sitting, you will see vendors selling cotton candy, hotdogs, and beer during game breaks. The crazy thing about these vendors is that you have to pass your cash through the fans in your row, and they have to pass your food or drinks to you! This is a long-standing tradition at baseball games, so don’t worry – no one will knick your hotdog!
Chicago Baseball Games are Fun Events for Everyone
Whether you are an avid sports fan, an international tourist, or a Chicagoan, you will find something to love about Chicago baseball. From the teams’ deep histories to the stadiums’ energetic atmospheres, going to a game is a great day out and an excellent way to learn about the Chicago spirit.
If you want to travel to America, check out these USA Travel Statistics before you go.