The Chicago Cubs and the Significance of ‘108’

A list of facts connected to the number 108 went viral shortly after the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.

  • Published 3 November 2016

Claim

A list of coincidences connecting the number 108 to the Chicago Cubs world series victory in 2016 is accurate.

There are 108 stitches in a baseball, designed by the Cubs first manager and ace pitcher A.G. Spalding, whose Chicago office was originally located at 108 W. Madison Street. • The left and right field corners at Wrigley Field — are 108 meters from home plate. • The Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, has located their main business — TD Ameritrade — on 108th street in Omaha, Nebraska. • The number 108 is a sacred number in yoga. and Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta does yoga 6 days a week. • Cubs win the World Series in the 1990 J.J. Abrams film “Taking Care of Business,” which is 108 minutes long. • Cubs win the World Series in the 1989 film “Back To The Future Part II,” which is 108 minutes long. • On 10/8 in 1945 Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis, who placed a curse on the Cubs for not letting his goat enter Wrigley Field, sent Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley a telegram stating, “Who smells now?” after a Cubs loss. • Wrigley Field was built on land that once housed a church and a seminary, and 108 is considered a holy number in many religions. • The Emil Verban Society is named after a three-season player with the Cubs, whose batting average in his last season in 1950 with the team was only .108. “Hey, the last time the Cubs won a World Series game was 10/8 in 1945,” chirped DePorter, who also reminded Sneed that the distance between the Sun and Earth is 108 times the diameter for the Sun, and the distance between the moon and Earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon . . . yikes! Sneed’s favorite: Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s mantra for the World Series favorite Cubbies is “Try not to suck.” “And, if you didn’t know this already, Hindu mantras are traditionally repeated 108 times,” said DePorter, who has also selected pop band “The Plain White T’s”— who have recorded 108 songs — to play at Harry Caray’s eatery at the Cubs early morning rally on Oct. 4 with Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Imagine that. Play ball!

Collected via Email, October 2016

Rating

Origin

On 22 September 2016, the Chicago Sun-Timespublished a list of supposed facts about the number “108” in anticipation of the Chicago Cubs first World Series victory since 1908:

Is 108 the Cubs’ lucky number?

Pull up a lawn chair.

Sports impresario Grant DePorter, who blew up the infamous Bartman Ball in 2004 in hopes of killing the legendary Cubs curse, claims the number 108 is the reason the Cubs are destined to win the World Series this year.

While we can’t speak to the curse-killing properties of the number 108, we can check to see if the above-displayed claims are accurate. 

108 stitches in a baseball: MOSTLY TRUE

According to Baseballtips.com, there are 108 double stitches on a baseball, or 216 single stitches. 

A.G. Spalding’s office originally located at 108 W. Madison Street: MIXTURE

A.G. Spalding & Bros. had an office at 118 Randolph Street in Chicago Illinois in 1876. They moved to 108 Madison Street in 1881. 

The left and right field corners at Wrigley Field are 108 meters from home plate. TRUE

The corners of Wrigley Field are located 355 feet (left field) and 353 feet (right field) from home plate. When this is converted to meters, you get 108.2 and 107.5 meters respectively. 

TD Ameritrade is located on 108th street in Omaha, Nebraska. TRUE

The corporate headquarters of TD Ameritrade is located at 200 South 108th Avenue.

108 is a sacred number in yoga. TRUE

While there are many types of yoga, the practice is often tied to Hinduism and Buddhism. The number 108 is connected to many features of both of these religions, such as the number of prayer beads on a mala. 

The movie Taking Care Of Business, which shows the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, is 108 minutes long. TRUE

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists Taking Care Of Business as 108 minutes long. 

The movie Back to the Future Part IIwhich shows the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, is 108 minutes long. TRUE

IMDB lists Back To The Future II as 108 minutes long. You can read more about this movie’s “prediction” here.

The “Billy Goat Curse” started on 8 October (10/8) when Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley. UNPROVEN

There are many variations of this story. The timeline makes sense, as Sianis and his goat were supposedly turned away from Wrigley Field on 6 October 1945, but we haven’t been able to verify the date he sent the telegram or its contents. One version of the tale states that Sianis sent his telegram “immediately” after he was denied entry, not two days later:

In one version, Sianis had gone straight to a telegraph office and sent a telegram to Philip K. Wrigley stating “you are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.” [Chicago columnist Mike] Rokyo repeated the story again and again in his columns, though in one of his last columns before his death in 1997, he said that the curse was actually nonsense; just a good story and nothing more. The real curse, he said was brought down on the Cubs from above because the owners were reluctant to hire black ballplayers for years following Jackie Robinson.

Wrigley Field was built on land that once housed a church. TRUE

The land surrounded by Clark, Waveland, Sheffield and Addison streets housed the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church before Weeghman Park (later renamed Wrigley Field) was built in 1914.

Emil Verban’s batting average in 1950 was 108. TRUE

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Emil Verban’s batting average during his final season with the Chicago Cubs was indeed .108. 

Before 2016, the last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series Game was on 10/8 in 1945. TRUE

In their last World Series win prior to 2016, the Chicago Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the 1945 World Series on 8 October 1945.

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