The following is a condensed excerpt from The Best Team Ever, a Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Cubs.The setting is Chicago, September 9, 1907, and the Chicago Cubs, the National League Champions, have accepted a challenge from the Leland Giants of the Negro League in an era of virulent racism and segregation.
For the Leland Giants a team from the Negro Leagues, this game against the Chicago Cubs (called by some baseball experts “The Best Team Ever”) marked the crowning moment in their short history. A chance to play a white professional team, let alone the National League Champions, did not come along every day. It was an historic opportunity to demonstrate the high quality of Negro League baseball. They could not squander this moment-- they must make the most of it. None of Leland’s players received a nickel for playing this game. In fact, Frank Leland wasn’t sure the gate would cover the $3000 he paid the Chicago Cubs for their share, the $500 rental fee for the West Side Grounds (which went to Al Spaulding who still owned the stadium), and the $500 fee to Chubby Murphy.
But even if money was lost in the process, a match-up of the black Leland Giants of the Negro Leagues versus the white National League Champions was a dream come true for Leland and manager/pitcher/outfielder Rube Foster. Foster was certain the Leland Giants could defeat “The Best Team Ever” Chicago Cubs.
Three days prior to the game Frank Chance told his team that he would not be playing or managing. He did not explain his reasons, but he privately told Johnny Evers, who also sat out the contest, that “there’s more at stake here than meets the eye.” Chance selected Pat Moran to manage the Chicago Cubs that day. Both Evers and Chance attended the game, sitting with President Murphy in his box, well back from the playing field.
Moran briefly toyed with starting Miner Brown, but the Cubs ace had pitched the day before. Instead he chose Blaine “Kid” Durbin, an untested, fresh arm. Moran deliberately went with the yannigan. If the Cubs lost, it could all be pinned on Durbin’s inexperience. But Moran did not think the Chicago Cubs would lose to the Leland Giants.
Get the exciting story of the historic epic contest of the Leland Giants of the Negro Leagues vs. the Chicago Cubs, the National League Champions in The Best Team Ever, a Novel of America, Chicago, and the 1907 Cubs.
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“Rube” Foster, Leland Giants of the Negro Leagues