As their name implies, the Chicago Cubs’ mascot is a bear cub who goes by the name of Clark. His name comes from the name of the cross street (Clark St.) which intersects Addison St. where the Cubs’ stadium, Wrigley Field, is located.
How did the Cubs originally name their team after a baby bear?
The name “cub” is a slang term for a younger, inexperienced ball player.
In 1901, the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed. More experienced ball players left their Chicago team for better options in the new league. That left mainly young and inexperienced players on the team.
In 1902, journalist Fred A. Hayner of the Chicago Daily News interviewed team manager Frank Selee to ask how the revised Chicago team was shaping up. After the interview, he wrote, “Frank Selee will devote his strongest efforts on the team work of the new Cubs this year.“1 And the Chicago Cubs were born.
The symbolism behind the term wasn’t lost on Frank Selee, however. While cubs are cute and cuddly-looking, they still grow up to be powerful and majestic predators who are the kings of their domains. (You can read more about this in my post on bear symbolism.)
Originally, the Cubs used people, including players’ kids, for mascots. Then, they started using live bear cubs.
In fact, in 1916, the team had a live bear cub named Joa, who was kept in a cage and brought out during games.2 Eventually, team owners realized how cruel and dangerous this practice was. Understandably traumatized, Joa was surly and even clawed a player.
Mercifully, the Cubs now have people who wear Clark suits to greet and entertain fans at Wrigley.
A friendly-looking cub who wears his baseball hat backwards, Clark’s main duty is to make sure Cubs’ games are family-friendly.3
You might like these other articles on UniGuide: