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For many living in the North Side of Chicago, Wrigley Field isn't simply a ballpark where the Cubs play their home games. It's the entire neighborhood. Since they set up shop there in 1916, the "friendly confines of Wrigley Field" have been a must-see destination for baseball fans worldwide. Over the years, bleachers have been added so that more spectators could attend, with some even being installed on the rooftops of buildings near the ballpark -- whatever it takes to let some of the most passionate fans in baseball watch their favorite team.
That being said (and this may be hard to believe), the Cubs haven't always been known as the Cubs, and they haven't always played at Wrigley either. The Chicago franchise changed names three times and stadiums five times during the 1800s. The name on their jerseys or where they played didn't seem to matter at all, as the team won six of the first eleven league championships. In 1902, with the team fielding one of the youngest rosters in baseball, a local newspaper referred to the franchise as the Cubs, and the name stuck.
The Cubs won their first World Series in 1907, and the following year became the first team ever to win back-to-back titles. That 1908 world championship is a bit of a sticking point these days, as it represents the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Between 1910 and 1945, the Cubs would return to the Fall Classic seven times, and each time they were forced to settle for second best.
While the team would go on to miss the playoffs entirely throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s, fans could take solace in having Ernie Banks on their team. Known affectionately as "Mr. Cub," Banks was named to 11 All-Star teams, hit 512 home runs and collected MVP honors in both '58 and '59. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, and in '99, he was selected for Major League Baseball's All-Century team.
If the Cubs were Banks' team in the '60s and '70s, then the '80s belonged to Ryne Sandberg. "Ryno" collected nine Gold Gloves, made 10 All-Star teams, and retired having hit more home runs than any other second baseman. In '84, he powered the North Siders to their first playoff appearance since 1945, but it wasn't meant to be. Since then, All-Stars such as Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, and Mark Prior would help steer the Cubs toward the postseason, but the end result has always been the same.
While folks in Chicago certainly want another title, their pining has never diminished the luster associated with the Cubbies. Fans still pack the stadium, hang on every ball and strike, and rise during the seventh inning stretch to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." If anything, they just want more Cubs baseball. As "Mr. Cub" said so many years before, "It's a great day for a ballgame. Let's play two."