In the world of sports, a couple stories stand above all others. That’s the case with the Chicago Cubs, who won the 2016 World Series — their first championship in 108 years. Setting all goats and curses aside, the Cubs have an extremely rich history. Their fans experienced plenty of pain over that span, but there were plenty of good moments, too. These are the seven best moments in modern Chicago Cubs history, ranked from least to most memorable.
7. Winning Game 2 of the 1984 NLCS
The 1984 season is remembered mostly for its heartbreaking ending. However, it still serves as a huge moment in Chicago Cubs history. The team hadn’t been to the postseason in 39 years; they’d lost the World Series in 1945. In those 39 years, they won 90 or more baseball games in a season just once. It was a bleak time to be a Cubs fan, and the first time in modern baseball history that they were relevant.
The Cubs won 96 games that year. As the best in the National League, they faced off with the San Diego Padres in the best-of-five NLCS. The excitement reached a fever pitch when the Cubs closed out the Padres in the second game of the series at Wrigley Field, taking a 2-0 lead in the series by a 4-2 score. The Cubs left home for the final time that season needing just one victory in the final three games to get to the World Series. It didn’t happen, however, but that doesn’t make this moment any less exciting.
6. Cubs beating the Braves in 2003
Much like 1984, Cubs fans mostly remember the 2003 season for the pain it added to Chicago’s history — not the relief that follows a happy ending. The Cubs earned 88 games that year, winning a weak NL Central and sliding into the playoffs against the vastly superior Atlanta Braves. The last time the Cubs participated in the playoffs was five seasons prior, when the very same Braves swept them in three games.
But this year was different. The Cubs took Game 1 of the NLDS behind an excellent effort by starting pitcher Kerry Wood. When the series returned to Atlanta for a deciding fifth game, Wood took the mound again and shut down the Braves. It was the Cubs’ first postseason series victory since 1908, and while they lost in the NLCS to the Florida Marlins, Chicago should not gloss over the history they made against the Braves.
5. Clinching against the Cardinals in 2008
In 2008, the Cubs experienced the 100-year anniversary of the last time they won the World Series. It just so happened to coincide with probably the best overall team since ’45. The Cubs put together a magical run that saw them win 97 games and finish the year with the best record in the National League.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Cubs out of the NLDS — adding to the painful memories — Chicago did clinch the division against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the ninth inning, all Wood needed to do was finish off the game to clinch the division. St. Louis second baseman Aaron Miles hit a lazy fly ball to Cubs center fielder Jim Edmonds, a former Cardinal player. Edmonds caught the ball, sending the Cubs into a massive celebration at Wrigley Field.
4. The wild-card game in 2015
After a huge second-half run by the young 2015 Cubs, the team found themselves fighting with the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one-game playoff at PNC Park for the right to take on the Cardinals in the NLDS. The Cubs had ace Jake Arrieta on the mound, and he delivered a great performance. Arrieta struck out 11 batters, throwing a nine-inning, complete game shutout. Kyle Schwarber hit a huge home run out of the ballpark and into the river, giving the Cubs an early lead.
They finished the game with a slow liner hit right to second baseman Starlin Castro for the final out. The Cubs celebrated while the Pirates stewed, watching their 98-win season end in a wild-card loss. It was the Cubs’ first win in the postseason since Game 4 of the 2003 NLCS.
3. Beating the Cardinals in the 2015 NLDS
After beating the Pirates, the Cubs earned the right to play the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals. In the history of the two franchises, they’d never met in the postseason, which made the matchup pretty cool to witness. Even better for Cubs fans: Their team won.
The Cardinals took the first game of the series in St. Louis, but the Cubs stormed back and won the second game. After the Cubs pounded six home runs in Game 3 at Wrigley Field, they took a hard-fought Game 4 over the Cardinals on a big seventh-inning home run by Anthony Rizzo. It was the first postseason series win since the victory over the Braves in ’03, giving the Cubs bragging rights over their rivals.
2. Winning the pennant over the Dodgers
In Game 3 of the NLCS, LA’s left-handed starting pitcher Rich Hill shut out the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. As the Cubs’ second consecutive game in which they’d been shut out, the Dodgers had a 2-1 series lead with two more games in Los Angeles before they headed back to Chicago. Things did not look good for the Cubs, who faced Clayton Kershaw in Game 6.
But the Cubs’ bats broke out, scoring 23 runs over the final three games of the series — and winning them all. They even beat up Kershaw, scoring five runs in five innings off the Dodgers ace. They finished with a double-play in the ninth inning, closing out the game and their first National League pennant since ’45.
1. The final out of Game 7 of the World Series
How could any other moment be No. 1? The Cubs went down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Indians. They needed a final game at Wrigley Field and then two games in Cleveland to win their first World Series since 1908. It was improbable, but not impossible. The Cubs stormed back and won Game 5, then Game 6, and then took a lead in Game 7.
The Indians fought hard, tying the game off closer Aroldis Chapman and sending it to extra innings. After a short rain delay, the Cubs stormed the Indians in the top of the 10th. They scored two runs and headed to the bottom half, leading 8-6. Carl Edwards Jr. allowed a run, but left-hander Mike Montgomery finished the game off with a ground ball to third baseman Kris Bryant. The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, which gave Cubs fans the best baseball memory anyone could hope for.