On the eve of World War II, baseball truly was America's national pastime. Little could anyone predict the changes and sacrifices that would be imposed on the sport during the early 1940s. As the war was coming to an end in 1945 and a jubilant mood was overtaking the country, baseball was back in full swing and the Chicago Cubs were on top of their game.
How did the Cubs clinch the pennant in 1945 and go to the World Series? Simply, they fielded, hit, and pitched better than any other team in the league. How did they then lose the championship to the Detroit Tigers, a team with one of the most mediocre records in pennant history? And why haven't they been back since?
One thing is clear: 1945, the last time the Cubs went to the World Series, was a turning point in the team's fortune. For in the first half of the twentieth century, few teams were as good as Chicago; in the second half, few teams were as bad.
Between 1900 and 1945 the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant ten times and had more first division finishes than any other team in the league and only one last-place finish. Between 1946 and 1990, the Chicago Cubs finished in the National League basement nine times, and went 20 consecutive seasons in the second division between 1947 and 1966.
Charles N. Billington's fast-paced narrative of this historic season includes an inning-by-inning account of critical games, highlights of winning streaks and road trips, and a discussion of how and why the team ultimately unravels. Incorporating statistical analysis, descriptions of key teams, and player biographies, Billington paints an evolving and exciting portrait of the 1945 Cubs and the wider national baseball scene of a war-torn era.