Because interleague play has been relatively close between the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs, you might think that games between the two clubs have been tight throughout history. But interleague play is just part of the White Sox and Cubs rivalry — and doesn’t even represent the most fiercely-contested games in intracity Chicago history.
With rare exception, the White Sox have dominated the Cubs, in games dating back 120 years, to 1903. The South Siders boast an overall record of 207-150-8 all-time in 80 seasons featuring games against the Cubs. (Scaled back to 162 games, that’s a 92-66-4 record.)
Surprised? Don’t be. Here’s a survey at how dominant the White Sox have been over the years.
City Series (1903-42)
The City Series represents the most competitive games ever played between the two teams. Held concurrent with the World Series, the best-of-seven series was Chicago’s own World Series, played for city bragging rights. Teams often gave out healthy incentive bonuses to players (sometimes bigger than those of the World Series itself), as the games were well-attended; this was a time when $500 (around $6,000 in today’s bucks) meant a ton to the average player.
To that end, the very first City Series, in 1903, was marred by accusations of games thrown. Cubs pitcher Jack Taylor won his first City Series start, but lost the last three (the series finished in a 7-7 tie). White Sox owner Charles Comiskey was overjoyed by the comeback and issued an additional $2,500 bonus to the team ($30,000 today). Subsequent accusations that Taylor had thrown his final games for side money precipitated a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. And as a result of the accusations against Taylor, the Cubs refused to play the 1904 City Series.
The White Sox won the 1912 City Series, 4-3, amid similar accusations, that the Cubs — who were up 3-0 before losing four straight — laid down in protest popular outgoing manager Frank Chance.
In 1914, the White Sox started the year by winning a world tour played against the New York Giants, played the regular season, then won the City Series, 4-3, after losing three of the first four games.
In 1915, the White Sox finished the regular season winning 11 straight games, then took four of five from the Cubs to win the City Series.
The 1924 City Series were the first baseball games in Chicago ever broadcast on local radio, with WGN’s Sen Kaney broadcasting the White Sox’s 4-2 series win from the roofs of both Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field.
The opening game of the 1925 City Series (won by the Cubs in five games) was a 19-inning tie.
In 1926, the White Sox won the City Series, 4-3. In a precursor of a famous A.J. Pierzynski-Michael Barrett dustup 80 years later, Cubs future Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett plowed over his White Sox counterpart, Ray Schalk, at home plate. Like A.J., Schalk held onto the ball for the out.
In 1927, the Cubs refused to play the City Series, purportedly because the White Sox were cheering for them to lose the NL pennant (it wasn’t exactly a nail-biter, as the North Siders finished 8 1⁄2 games out) in order to earn some City Series money. Comiskey responded with shade: “Nothing would be gained if the Sox beat the Cubs again.”
After rare wins in consecutive series, one North Side hurler let hubris get the best of him for the 1931 City Series. Before Game 4 at Comiskey Park, Cubs starter Pat Malone bragged that he could beat the White Sox with “eight bloomer girls from an old ladies home” lined up behind him. Sox fans threw lemons at Malone, and the White Sox bench sent over a crate of raspberries — and Malone lost the game, 4-3, by the same margin the last-place White Sox would topple the Cubs in the series.
In 1934, Cubs owner William Wrigley thought his team was laying down in the home stretch of the season in order to earn the higher receipts of City Series play, and refused to play the White Sox.
The Series resumed in 1935, ending in a White Sox sweep. When the White Sox repeated the sweep in 1936, it so infuriated Wrigley that he cut some player salaries — and ordered all of his Cubs players placed on the trading block.
In 1939, the White Sox completed yet another comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to take the crown — this time unaccompanied by any accusations of Cubs taking bribes to lose.
It was a third sweep in six City Series for the White Sox in 1941, with the South Siders completing a triple play in Game 3.
In all, the White Sox were 91-60-3 in City Series games, and captured 19 of 25 series overall (the teams tied in the first City Series in 1903).
Boys Benefit Game (1949-72)
With the City Series scuttled by World War II, the White Sox struck crosstown play back up with a single-game exhibition to benefit youth baseball.
Although all but two of the games were played at Comiskey Park, the Cubs took 13 of 23 games in the series.
A White Sox vs. Cubs-best crowd of 52,712 came to the June 25, 1964 game at Comiskey Park, won by the Pale Hose, 11-1. Attendance was beyond capacity, so fans were allowed to stand in the outfield during that game.
Mayor’s Series (1981)
Mayor Jane Byrne proposed a revival of meetings between the two teams. August 7’s game at Comiskey Park was a scoreless tie, while the next day the Cubs knocked off the White Sox, 4-3.
In 1982, both the crosstown Mayor’s Series games scheduled were cancelled ... due to snow.
Windy City/Crosstown Classic (1985-95)
One-game sets were agreed upon to benefit team charities. The White Sox went 10-0-2 in these games, which alternated between Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field.
In the April 17, 1994 game at Wrigley Field, Michael Jordan started in right field for the White Sox and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the 4-4 tie. Yep, this is the game those photos of Harry Caray interviewing Jordan come from.
Tribune Twinbill (1995)
The Chicago Tribune sponsored a home-and-home series before the labor-delayed start of the season. The newspaper’s asset didn’t fare so well, as the Cubs lost to the White Sox 6-3 on April 24 at Comiskey Park and 6-2 on April 25 at Wrigley Field.
Interleague Play (1997-present)
Since official interleague play started in 1997, the White Sox lead the series, 73-65 (that’s an 86-76 pace for a 162-game season). The White Sox have been better both at home (36-33) and at Wrigley Field (37-32)
Overall, the White Sox are 12-6-8 against the Cubs in official, regular-season, MLB play. Yes, there have been more series ties than Cubs wins in interleague play. Because of the tie-keep-the-Cup nature of the rivalry, the White Sox have “possessed the Cup” 16 times to the Cubs’ 10, and have held it now since 2021.
For only a brief time in IL play have the Cubs even had the lead over the White Sox in the interleague series heading into the next year — and that was after the 1998 season, when the all-time series was 4-2 in favor of the north siders.
Combing all series play, from City Series to the current interleague slate, the White Sox are 31-12-9 in capturing bragging rights from the Cubs in any given year. That’s a 97-37-28 record, if applied to a 162-game season.
A version of this Flashback story originally was published at South Side Sox on May 11, 2018 and Aug. 27, 2021.