Constable: How Cubs fans celebrated a century before Twitter

  • Gearing up for World Series clashes between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and '08, Rudy "Bunco" Reinger and his buddies teased each other by drawing postcards they mailed for a penny.

    Gearing up for World Series clashes between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and '08, Rudy "Bunco" Reinger and his buddies teased each other by drawing postcards they mailed for a penny. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • This scorecard from the clinching game of the 1907 World Series won by the Chicago Cubs is part of a collection of keepsakes from that era.

    This scorecard from the clinching game of the 1907 World Series won by the Chicago Cubs is part of a collection of keepsakes from that era. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • At the start of the 20th century, postcards were the social media. Not only could you mail one for a penny stamp, but you didn't need to worry about a ZIP code or even the word Chicago. A street address in the "City" was all this mail needed to be delivered.

    At the start of the 20th century, postcards were the social media. Not only could you mail one for a penny stamp, but you didn't need to worry about a ZIP code or even the word Chicago. A street address in the "City" was all this mail needed to be delivered. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/25/2016 6:31 AM

This summer's championship dreams send Cubs fan Bruce Reinger of Mount Prospect to his attic stash of one-of-a-kind keepsakes from the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

"They spent hours teasing each other, having a ball," Reinger, 77, says of the more than a century-old, hand-drawn postcards mailed among his grandfather, Rudy Reinger, who died in 1936, and his grandpa's buddies from the early 20th century. "They didn't have phones and Twitter and stuff like that."

 

So they drew cartoons to poke fun and capture the moments, and used 1-cent stamps to mail them to each other.

"I suppose that a good drubbing is still in store for the Cubs," reads a caption on one postcard. A rebuttal postcard drawn after Chicago beat the Detroit Tigers in the 1907 World Series shows a Tiger mascot in a coffin.

Reinger and his brother, Roger, of Elk Grove Village, inherited the collection from their father, Russell, who died in a car crash in 1964. The collection of postcards was mailed to the Reinger family in 1940 from Edward R. Watson, who lived in Pasadena, California. Watson wanted the Reingers to have the artwork done by himself, Rudy "Bunco" Reinger and unknown friends mentioned on the postcard only as DeMuth, Chip and Mike.

Watson evidently rooted for the White Sox in 1906 just to make it interesting and wrote that he playfully tormented his Cubs pals during "our baseball civil war days of 1906-1909," when they wagered on some of the outcomes.

"I can just see these guys teasing each other," Reinger says as he thumbs through the postcards. "They were good friends and buddies."

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Celebrating the Chicago Cubs' 1907 World Series win over the Detroit Tigers, this antique postcard drawn by his grandfather is part of a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts cherished by 77-year-old Cubs fan Bruce Reinger of Mount Prospect.
Celebrating the Chicago Cubs' 1907 World Series win over the Detroit Tigers, this antique postcard drawn by his grandfather is part of a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts cherished by 77-year-old Cubs fan Bruce Reinger of Mount Prospect. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

While the Sox upset the Cubs to win the 1906 World Series, the Cubs stormed back to take the crown in 1907 and 1908 from the American League champion Detroit Tigers. In addition to the hand-drawn postcards, Reinger's collection includes official Cubs postcards from that era, featuring star players such as pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and the famed double-play combo of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.

Rudy Reinger wasn't the only Cubs fan in the family. His wife, Lillian, who worked full time as an accountant, went to plenty of games at the West Side Grounds where Chicago played before moving in 1916 to what is now Wrigley Field.

"My great-grandmother took all her vacation time for Cubs games," says Kristin Reinger, who shares her ancestor's passions by rooting for the Cubs and working as a senior examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
The Reinger family of Mount Prospect boasts a long line of Cubs fans. Bruce Reinger, 77, shows off a scrapbook of his grandfather's keepsakes from the last time the Cubs won the World Series more than a century ago.
The Reinger family of Mount Prospect boasts a long line of Cubs fans. Bruce Reinger, 77, shows off a scrapbook of his grandfather's keepsakes from the last time the Cubs won the World Series more than a century ago. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Bruce Reinger, who grew up in Skokie, saw plenty of Cubs games as a boy. One of his most memorable Wrigley Field outings didn't even include a game. "It was Jackie Robinson's first game in Chicago and it was a Ladies Day, too," remembers Reinger, who went with his mom, Dorothy. "There were 10 thousand-gazillion people there and we didn't get in."

He knew Andy Frain, the founder of the famed ushering company, and sometimes worked that connection to get into games. His own baseball skill got him into an entire season of games for free.

"I was All-Chicago-Suburban in 1955 and the Cubs gave me a free pass," says Reinger, who batted .460 as third baseman for Niles Township High School. "I wasn't the best fielder, but I could hit."

He played baseball, basketball and football at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he met his wife, Llona, on a blind date. "I didn't go on blind dates," Llona Reinger says, explaining how she only went because her friend offered to buy her a hot fudge sundae. "St. Olaf had very good ice cream."

Without text messages or Twitter, Cubs fans and Sox fans a century ago drew teasing barbs on postcards and mailed them to each other. Bruce Reinger, 77, of Mount Prospect has a collection of his grandfather's hand-drawn postcards from the last time the Cubs won the World Series in 1907 and '08.
Without text messages or Twitter, Cubs fans and Sox fans a century ago drew teasing barbs on postcards and mailed them to each other. Bruce Reinger, 77, of Mount Prospect has a collection of his grandfather's hand-drawn postcards from the last time the Cubs won the World Series in 1907 and '08. -

In addition to their daughter, Kristin, who lives in Mount Prospect, they have a daughter, Karen, who lives in Roselle. While the Reingers all are Cubs fans, Bruce Reinger says he discovered a White Sox branch of their family tree. One relative was Oscar "Happy" Felsch, a star center fielder for the White Sox. Felsch, who was played by Charlie Sheen in the movie "Eight Men Out," was banned from baseball after he was part of the infamous so-called Black Sox, who intentionally lost the 1919 World Series to appease gamblers. It wasn't until Bruce Reinger saw Felsch's name and address among relatives in his father's address book that he realized the connection.

"My dad never once mentioned it," Reinger says. "He must have been embarrassed about it,"

As a Cubs fan, he might have been embarrassed just to have a relative who played on the South Side.

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