Stuff of legends: Cubs welcome Red Sox

Stuff of legends: Cubs welcome Red Sox

They both play at old-time ballparks, they both have incredibly faithful fans and they both have a former player going into the Hall of Fame this summer.

It's the Chicago Cubs vs. the Boston Red Sox, diehard Cubs fans vs. Red Sox Nation, bleachers vs. the Green Monster, Ryne Sandberg vs. Wade Boggs, deep-dish pizza vs. chowder.

The two fabled franchises will meet this weekend for the first time since the 1918 World Series, which the Red Sox won, 4-2. Boston ended its alleged curse last year by beating the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. The Cubs are still waiting, last winning a World Series in 1908.

None of the 1918 Series games were played at Wrigley Field, which was then called Weegham Park. The Cubs' home games were played at Comiskey Park to take advantage of the larger seating capacity. Comiskey held 26,000 fans compared to 18,000 at Wrigley.

Now, Wrigley holds 39,538, and it'll be packed. This is the hottest ticket in the city.

On Friday, Bronson Arroyo will face Greg Maddux in Game 1 of this three-game Interleague series, followed by Wade Miller vs. Carlos Zambrano and Tim Wakefield against Glendon Rusch.

"It's going to be exciting," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "People are coming in from all over the country. This is the first time they've been here ever. I think it shows how baseball is alive. The games are going to be on national TV. I've got a few guys there that have played for me that I haven't seen in awhile. I'm looking forward to seeing them."

Arroyo is looking forward to facing Maddux.

"He's probably the only guy I ever grew up wanting to watch pitch," Arroyo said of the 39-year-old veteran. "Watching anybody else pitch, guys like Roger [Clemens] or Doc Gooden, were great pitchers, but it was always something special to watch Greg because he was getting people out with mediocre stuff. You'd always try and figure out, why is he throwing 87 or 88 [mph] and getting people out?

"This is probably the only guy in my whole career where I'm going to say I'll actually enjoy pitching against," Arroyo said.

The Cubs have struggled in Interleague Play so far, going 2-4 after playing host to the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are connections on the current club. Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker both played for the Red Sox, and Garciaparra should get his 2004 World Series ring this weekend. Pitcher Matt Clement, Bill Mueller and Mark Bellhorn are former Cubs, as is Boston manager Terry Francona.

Flash back to 1918. With World War I raging in Europe, the regular season ended three weeks early that year. The Cubs were 84-45 under manager Fred Mitchell, while the Red Sox won the American League with a 75-51 record.

The Red Sox won the Series opener on Sept. 5, behind Babe Ruth's six-hit shutout, 1-0. Yes, that Babe Ruth. He was 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA in 19 starts for the Red Sox. Ruth had to work out of jams throughout the game. Boston's only run came in the fourth on Stuffy McInnis' RBI single.


"It's going to be exciting. People are coming in from all over the country. This is the first time they've been here ever. I think it shows how baseball is alive."
-- Dusty Baker

This game was significant for another reason. It was the first time the Star Spangled Banner was played during the seventh-inning stretch rather than before the game.

The Cubs evened the Series with a 3-1 win in Game 2 in front of 20,040 at Comiskey Park. Chicago scored three runs in the second, including a pair on a single by Lefty Tyler. Tyler also was the winning pitcher.

The Red Sox won Game 3, 2-1, as the Cubs wasted a great outing by Hippo Vaughn, a 20-game winner. The game ended on a thrilling play. With two out and nobody on, Charlie Pick beat a slow roller and then stole second. Pick advanced on a passed ball, and the ball got away from the third baseman. Pick tried to score, but was thrown out at the plate.

The Series shifted to Fenway Park, and Boston took a 3-1 Series lead with a 3-2 victory in Game 4. Ruth extended his record streak to 29 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up seven hits and six walks, and didn't strike anyone out.

Vaughn threw a five-hit shutout in Game 5 in a 3-0 Cubs victory. Rookie shortstop Charlie Hollocher helped with three hits. However, the game was delayed for almost an hour as the players threatened to not play unless their World Series shares were increased. The owners called their bluff, and the players relented.

Boston clinched the Series on Sept. 11 with a 2-1 win. The Red Sox scored two runs in the third without the benefit of a hit. Tyler walked Carl Mays and Dave Shean, and then Max Flack dropped George Whiteman's line drive for what should've been the last out.

The Red Sox will be the 15th American League opponent (including the Milwaukee Brewers) for the Cubs. With Friday's game, the Cubs will have played every current Major League team. It's the first time they can make that claim since 1900, when the eight-team National League was the only Major League.

The Cubs should be fresh. Thursday is their first off-day after 20 games in a row.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Bronson Arroyo
• 4-2, 3.89 ERA in 2005
• 0-2, 3.86 ERA vs. CHC lifetime

CHC: RHP Greg Maddux
• 4-3, 4.12 ERA in 2005
• 4-0, 3.32 ERA vs. BOS lifetime

Player to watch
Walker might have something to prove to his former teammates. He played for the Red Sox in 2003, but wasn't retained after that. He hit .283 with 13 homers and 85 RBIs that year. He has a career .238 average against the Red Sox.

Quotable
"Going up against the defending champs, it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited for the fans in Chicago. We look at it not just as another game, but another game we need to win." -- Cubs catcher Michael Barrett

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
Gameday
Official game notes

On television
• BOS: WSBK/NESN
• CHC: WGN

On radio
• BOS: WEEI 850 AM, WROL (Sp.)
• CHC: WGN 720 AM

Quick hits
Barrett is a .250 lifetime hitter against the Red Sox, Henry Blanco is a .235 hitter, Jeromy Burnitz .250, Jerry Hairston Jr. .254, Todd Hollandsworth .278, Derrek Lee .306, Jose Macias .273, Neifi Perez .125 and Aramis Ramirez .333. ... Hairston was 6-for-13 against the Red Sox last year.

On deck
• Saturday: vs. Red Sox, 2:15 p.m. CT
• Sunday: vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: vs. Marlins, 7:05 p.m. CT

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.