As you’re watching The Chicago Cubs (73-42) and St. Louis Cardinals (61-56) on Sunday Night Baseball tonight, here are a few facts to remember—especially if there’s some Redbirds fan trying to tell you who’s the better team.
In his book Before They Were Cardinals, John David Cash speculates that the two cities first competed in trade, which led to the creation of the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1875 to compete with the Chicago White Stockings. This also led to the rivalry nickname ‘The Route 66 Series’, named for the road that connects both cities.
The first time these two teams met was in the 1885 World Series, playing in four cities—St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh. The White Stockings (Cubs) beat the Browns (Cardinals) in games one and two, culminating in a Brown’s forfeiture over an umpire’s call in game two.
The two clubs split the championship and $1000 prize when the Browns protested that their forfeiture didn’t count as a loss. The series ended in a 3-3 tie.
More from Chicago Cubs News
- After the Cubs traded him, Mychal Givens has been a hot mess for the Mets
- Cubs might have uncovered a diamond in the rough in Franmil Reyes
- Nelson Velazquez has a long-term role to play for the Cubs
- Do the Cubs really need to go spend on a superstar shortstop?
- Gazing into our crystal ball to see the staff of the 2026 Cubs
The two teams have one of the oldest rivalries in modern sports, dating back to 1885. All time, the Cubs lead the rivalry series 1204-1153-19, though the Cardinals have outscored and outhit them. Both teams average scoring four runs against each other.
Both teams average scoring four runs against each other.
The Cardinals have made more postseason appearances in the modern era (28-17) and won eleven total championships versus the Cubs’ two. Even so, the Cubs have won two of the three postseason meetings between the teams.
When the American Association dissolved in 1891, The Browns moved to the National League, where the White Stockings already dominated, winning six of the league’s first 11 titles. The Browns didn’t find much success in the NL until the turn of the century when they officially changed their name to the Cardinals.
St. Louis made their next World Series appearance 1926 behind the leadership of player-coach Rogers Hornsby. By that time, the Chicago franchise already won eight titles and owned the league record for most wins in a season, 116 in 1906. The Cardinals won six titles between 1926 and 1946, the year after the Cubs made their most recent World Series appearance.
The Cardinals dominated the series during the 1950’s and 1960’s, going 227-180-5 in that time. They won two championships during that time,
The 1980’s and 1990’s saw the rivalry begin to turn in the Cubs favor, most notably during the 1984 Ryne Sandberg game. He went 5-for-6 with a game-tying home run in the 11th inning off of Bruce Sutter, who the Cubs traded to the Cardinals for Leon Durham in 1980. More than a decade later, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa squared off in the 1998 home run race to 61. McGwire won the race 70-66.
This season, the Cubs are 7-6 against the Cardinals and hold a 13 game lead in the division. The Cubs have outscored the Cardinals 60-48, winning a majority of their meetings at Busch Stadium.
If these trends continue, Cubs fans could see the rivalry steadily swing in Chicago’s favor in years to come.