Way back when: The world in 1908

Much has changed since Cubs were last on top

Way back when: The world in 1908

The Chicago Cubs are just four wins away from winning the World Series.

It's a phrase that could not be overstated in the days leading up to Game 1 of the 112th Fall Classic between the Cubs and Indians tonight, simply because the world looks so different since the last time the Cubs clinched a World Series title on Oct. 14, 1908. To start, all one has to do is check the ticket prices: A Cubs fan could grab a seat in the grandstands at Chicago's West Side Grounds for $1.50 during the 1908 World Series.

• World Series Game 1: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. ET air time | 8 ET game time on FOX

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

But that doesn't even truly begin to illustrate how long the Cubs have waited and how much our day-to-day lives have changed since the North Siders could last call themselves world champions. Here are just a few things that were different 108 years ago:

• Get official gear: Go, Cubs, going to World Series!

The Major Leagues

• Major League Baseball consisted of only 16 teams in 1908, and only 10 of those clubs are still in their original cities today. A western trip back then meant a train ride to Cincinnati or St. Louis, and only three teams played below the Mason-Dixon Line.

• On Sept. 26, 1908, Cubs pitcher Ed Ruelbach pitched shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader against Brooklyn, wrapping the two contests up in less than three total hours. Accurate data for the length of Major League games doesn't stretch back to 1908, but one can assume that games back then lasted around (if not shorter than) the average of one hour and 47 minutes set in 1920, the earliest year on record. By contrast, the average 2016 regular-season contest lasted three hours and one minute.

105-year-old Cubs fan opens up

• A record 111 players hit at least 20 homers in 2016, while a total of zero players reached the 20-homer plateau in 1908 (Brooklyn's Tim Jordan paced the Majors with 12). In fact, big league players combined for a total of 267 homers during the '08 campaign, or just 14 more than the Orioles hit by themselves this year.

• There were only 18 Major League players born outside the United States in 1908, according to Elias. Conversely, 27.5 percent of players on the 2016 Opening Day 25-man rosters (206 in total) were born outside the U.S.

Birthplace of MLB Players


• The Cubs claimed their last World Series title just four years after the first multi-shot silent film, "The Great Train Robbery," was distributed to theaters across the country. The first "talkie" wouldn't come until 1927.

• When they weren't at the stadium, the only way fans could follow their favorite team in 1908 was through newspaper box scores. The first baseball game on the radio was not broadcast until 1921. In fact, the first public radio broadcast was made by Reginald A. Fessenden on Christmas Eve of 1906. The first televised World Series game was in 1947, when the New York Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers, so tonight's game will be the Cubs' first televised Series appearance.

• The best-selling song in America in 1908 was Alan Turner's "As Long as the World Rolls On," a ballad that was played on an Edison wax cylinder through a phonograph. Another popular song that year? Jack Norworth's "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Jerry Pritkin remembers 1945 WS


• 1908 was a landmark year for travel, as it was the year in which Henry Ford produced his first Model T automobile, and when Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first flights before the public.

• A nonstop flight today from Boston to Seattle would cost you as little as $109 and perhaps 6 1/2 hours, but traveling across the country in 1908 was a different story. A passenger would likely need to travel on three different rail lines over a span of four to six days for such a journey, which would cost at least $100, or upwards of $2,400 today.

Cubs' path to World Series

America and the world at large

• The United States flag only contained 46 stars when the Cubs repeated as World Series champions in 1908. New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii would all be added to the union in the years to come.

• A total of 19 U.S. presidents have occupied the White House since the Cubs last won it all. The 2016 Cubs are only one year closer to the franchise's most recent title than the 1908 Cubs were to George Washington's death in 1799.

• Speaking of presidents, William Howard Taft was elected U.S. president just a few weeks after the Cubs won the World Series. On April 15, 1910, he would become the first sitting president to throw out the first pitch at a Major League baseball game when the Washington Senators hosted the Philadelphia Athletics on Opening Day.

• There were only 65 sovereign states across the world in 1908, compared to the 195 today, according to the U.S. State Department. The Ottoman Empire still existed for another 15 years after the Cubs won it all, while Russia was still ruled by a czar.

• The U.S. population was 88.71 million in 1908 and is nearly 325 million today, and that difference will manifest itself in World Series attendance. A total of 62,232 people attended the 1908 World Series (12,446 fans per game), with just 6,210 on hand when the Cubs defeated the Tigers in Game 5 to clinch the title. The 2016 version is expected to have 195,000 fans in the seats if it reaches five games, an average of 38,850 per game.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.