At the turn of the 20th century, the Chicago Cubs were one of the premier teams in professional baseball. The Cubs were World Series champions in 1908. For the last 104 years, things have not gone so well. The Cubs last World Series appearance came in 1945, where they unfortunately lost to the Detroit Tigers. But there have been exciting games and seasons that have followed the last WS showing. The Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs features four such games of varying significance.
The first game in the set is from July 12, 1969. The game held no significance in the league standings. But it did feature five Cubs that would eventually land in the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. Those individuals were manager Leo Durocher, first baseman Ernie Banks, right fielder Billy Williams, starting pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and one of the most beloved Cubs in the history of the franchise, third baseman Ron Santo.
The second game is from June 23, 1984, and is a classic to Cubs fans everywhere. A young second baseman named Ryne Sandberg introduced himself to a national television audience with a bang. The St. Louis Cardinals were leading 9-8 heading into the bottom of the 9th inning. The Cardinals brought in their intimidating closer Bruce Sutter to shut down the Cubs and preserve a victory. Sutter was intimidating to most, but not young Sandberg. With nerves of steel, Sandberg stepped to the plate and smashed a solo home run to tie the game at 9. The game would move into extra innings. The Cardinal scored two runs in the top of the 10th and looked like they would triumph after all. But in the bottom of the inning, the Wrigley Field faithful would be treated to a sense of déjà vu. Once again, Sutter faced off against Sandberg with the game on the line. And once again, Sandberg came through, this time hitting a two run game tying home run. Sandberg overall stats: 5-6, two home runs, seven R.B.I.‘s.
The third game was a one game play-in to see which team, the Cubs or the San Francisco Giants would make the playoffs. A two run homer from veteran third baseman Gary Gaetti and stellar pitching from Steve Trachsel help lead the Cubs to a playoff berth.
And finally, the September 20, 2008 game in which the Cubs defeated the Cardinals to clinch the National League Central division crown.
There are no special features to speak of on this set. Except for the 2008 game, in which you can watch the FOX television broadcast and listen to the Cubs radio announcers. I believe that’s the only way to view this game, considering one of those broadcasters is the late Ron Santo, who poured every emotion into every play he called.