This Is What the World Looked Like the Last Time the Cubs Won the World Series

Here are 10 ways life was different in 1908

Wrigley Field
Dan Merino via Flickr

Last night, after more than a century, the Chicago Cubs broke their legendary postseason losing streak by taking home the pennant at the World Series. The world has changed dramatically in the decades since the Windy City’s home team won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908. While there are enough differences between 1908 and 2016 to fill many a history book, here are 10 things that have changed since the last time the Cubs reigned supreme:

Black people couldn’t play baseball

These days, professional baseball players come from all walks of life and from all parts of the world, especially countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Japan. While the 2016 Cubs may have been a fair representation of the face of modern baseball, their 1908 predecessors were much, much whiter. It wasn't that there weren't great black baseball players around at the time—there were, and they ultimately formed their own league in the 1920s, but the game didn't get integrated until Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate and smashed the color barrier for his first major league game almost 40 years later. It would take until 1953 for Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks to become the first black player to join the Cubs' roster. 

Women couldn’t vote

In 1908, the Women’s Suffrage Movement was just getting started. At the time, women were not only unable to vote, but many men were actively opposed to women’s suffrage, prompting an ongoing battle that would last for the next 12 years in the United States. It took until 1920 for the 19th Amendment to be ratified in the U.S.

Sliced bread didn’t exist

Pre-sliced bread may be one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but any sandwiches brought to the 1908 World Series would have been cut at home. Sliced bread didn’t hit store shelves until 1928, when a bakery in Missouri tested out a revolutionary new device that let them easily pre-cut entire loaves before wrapping them up for sale. While it took several years for the innovation to catch on, sliced bread soon took the world by storm.

The first mass-produced cars were just being made

Nearly two weeks before the 1908 Cubs took home the championship, the first of Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T’s rolled off of the assembly line. Before then, automobiles were put together by hand, a laborious process that limited car ownership to just the richest people. With Ford’s innovation, cars became cheap enough for the average American worker to own, revolutionizing the way we travel.

Many countries still used the Julian Calendar

These days, the standard calendar used to mark the days of the year is the Gregorian Calendar. First promoted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, this calendar was intended as an improvement over the earlier Julian Calendar that had been in use throughout Europe since Julius Caesar ruled the Roman Empire. By the early 20th century, most countries had switched over this newer mode of determining the date—with the exception of much of eastern Europe, where Orthodox Christianity still relied on the Julian Calendar. It would take another 10 years after the Cubs win for Russia to finally switch over to the Gregorian system with the October Revolution.

One of the fastest ways to travel the world was by boat

Getting from place to place was a much tougher undertaking back in 1908: after all, the first airplane had just been flown by the Wright Brothers only five years before. When it came to intercontinental travel, there was no other choice than to go by boat, typically by steamship. Even though the journey would take weeks instead of months, as it had just a few decades before, the world was much larger back then.

The only way to watch the World Series was to be there

The fact that millions of people around the world could press a button and watch last night’s ball game from the comfort of their home would have been unheard of the last time the Cubs won the World Series. For starters, baseball games weren’t broadcast over the radio until 1921, when Pittsburgh’s KDKA broadcast a game between the Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. Not only that, but the first night game wouldn’t be played until the 1930s.

Civil War veterans and former slaves were still alive and well

The Civil War might feel like ancient history, but back in 1908 there were plenty of people who still remember the fighting—not to mention living under slavery. The brutal, bloody war ended in 1865, and though they would have been getting up there in age, there were still many people living who could remember a time when the North and South were at each other’s throats and black people could be considered property.

The Statue of Liberty had just turned green

The Statue of Liberty is known for its iconic green color, but when it was first erected on Liberty Island in 1886, the enormous statue was still coated in copper. Over the years, however, it slowly developed a green patina as its copper skin oxidized. The creeping discoloration was first spotted in 1900 and totally covered the statue by 1906. While plans to repaint the statue were floated, the Army Corps of Engineers quickly realized that the patina not only protected the Statue of Liberty from the weather, but made it even more beautiful in the process.

Wrigley Field hadn’t been built yet

Chicago’s Wrigley Field is a landmark that's been defined by the Chicago Cubs, but this is the first time the team has won a World Series since their stadium was built. Wrigley was first built in 1914, and it wasn't even for the Cubs at first, it was made for the Chicago Whales, which was part of the short-lived Federal League. The Cubs played their first game on the field in 1916, and it was called Cubs Park from 1920 through 1926 before it was renamed after the team's owner, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., in 1927.

It’s been a long road to victory for the Cubs. Considering how far the team—and the rest of the world—has come, they certainly deserve a celebration.

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