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Review of the October 14 2012 presentation, by Richard Meister:

“Before the Curse”

On Sunday, October 14, at The Hour Glass museum, Carson Cunningham shared with nearly thirty neighbors, many of whom are die-hard Cub fans, the Cubs’ glory years.  Unfortunately, to do that, he had to stop at 1945.    Carson, who spent his childhood in Ogden Dunes and is now raising his family here, teaches history at DePaul University and is head basketball coach at Andrean High School. 

Carson and his former professor and mentor at Purdue University, Randy Roberts, are the editors of a recently published book by the University of Illinois Press, Before the Curse: The Chicago Cubs’ Glory Years, 1870-1945.  Their Introduction, “From Early Excellence to the Golden Age to That Darned Goat,” is complemented by 27 articles that remind the reader that before the Cubs became the lovable losers that they were mean and controversial winners. 

Through a power-point presentation, Carson gave us a glimpse of those amazing heroes of pennant winners and victors in the World Series.  Unfortunately, while they won many pennants and World Series in these glory years, the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908 or a pennant since 1945.   Some of baseball’s most memorable characters are Cubbies, beginning with Cap Anson and Albert Spalding, continuing with King Kelly, the Tinker-Evers-Chance double play trio, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, who grew up near Joe and Aurelia Costanza’s farmette in Judson, Indiana, and ending with Hack Wilson, Roger Hornsby, Kiki Cuyler, and Gabby Harnett.   

The lively discussion that followed allowed the die-hard Cub fans to share their favorite stories, providing Carson with fodder for what may be a sequel, “After the Curse.”   Before the Curse is Carson’s second book.  Four years ago American Hoops: U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball from Berlin to Beijing was published.   Many in the audience purchased the book and will agree with one of the reviewers of the book that it is “a substantial, in-depth collection that shows how the Cubs came to be.” 

The Historical Society extends its thanks to Carson for agreeing for the third time to do a program for the community, to Mary Nemeth, who provided the refreshments, and to Dorothy Kurtz for arranging the program. 

Amazon.com book review:

Before the Curse: The Chicago Cubs' Glory Years, 1870–1945 brings to life the early history of the much beloved and often heartbreaking Chicago Cubs. Originally called the Chicago White Stockings, the team immediately established itself as a powerhouse, winning the newly formed National Base Ball League's inaugural pennant in 1876, repeating the feat in 1880 and 1881, and commanding the league in the decades to come. The legendary days of the Cubs are recaptured here in more than two dozen vintage newspaper accounts and historical essays on the teams and the fans who loved them. The great games, pennant races, and series are all here, including the 1906 World Series between the Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Of course, Before the Curse remembers the hall-of-fame players--Grover Cleveland Alexander, Gabby Hartnett, Roger Hornsby, Dizzy Dean--who delighted Cubs fans with their play on the field and their antics elsewhere.Through stimulating introductions to each article, Randy Roberts and Carson Cunningham demonstrate how changes in ownership affected the success of the team, who the teams' major players were both on and off the field, and how regular fans, owners, players, journalists, and Chicagoans of the past talked and wrote about baseball