LONDON SERIES Primer: Why are they called the Cubs?

Way back in 1876, the team was known as the “White Stockings”. In fact, the “White Stockings” remains the most successful incarnation of the franchise, with a .626 win percentage in the 13 years of their existence.

In 1890, the White Stockings became the Chicago Colts. Chicago finished immediately below the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates in a scenario that might be replicated this season.

Adrian Anson, better known as Cap Anson, was the team’s best player and perhaps the greatest ballplayer in the early era of professional baseball. He played for a record 27 straight seasons and recorded 3,000 hits, which led many sportswriters to refer to the team as the “Anson Colts”.

Future Hall of Famer, Adrian “Cap” Anson

Unfortunately, Anson’s legacy isn’t great. He is infamous for refusing to field his team if there was a black player in the opponent’s lineup. In an exhibition game, Anson claimed that Toledo’s catcher Moses Walker, who was black, was ineligible to play because the rules only permitted gentlemen to play, and Walker, as a black person, was incapable of satisfying the definition of a “gentleman”.

When Anson retired, the club lost its identity. At times, it was referred to as “Remnants” or the “Infants” by the media, but it is the “Chicago Orphans” that appears on the records from 1898 to 1902.

With a .482 winning percentage, the Orphans are the only version of the Chicago franchise with a losing record.

Meanwhile, the team’s original name, the “Chicago White Stockings”, was being resurrected by a newly-formed south side team that was destined to join the AL in 1901. Headline writers almost immediately shortened the name to the White Sox. You may have heard of them.

In 1902, the Chicago Daily News started referring to the “Orphans” as the “Cubs” due to the high number of young players in the team, which led to a bizarre five-year period when different publications called the team the five different names of the Orphans, Infants, Remnants, Colts, and Cubs.

It wasn’t until 1907 that the “Cubs” nickname finally stuck, and the name became official.

The London Series 2023 will feature the first-ever NL games in Europe when the Chicago Cubs take on the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June. Check out the Ticketmaster website with tickets starting from £59.00 – make sure you are following @Batflips_nerds for all your London Series content.

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