IMAGES | 1907 and 1908 Cubs held Spring Training at French Lick - WDRB 41 Louisville News

IMAGES | 1907 and 1908 Cubs held Spring Training at French Lick Resort

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FRENCH LICK, Ind. (WDRB) - There is a big local connection to the Cubs team that won the World Series in 1908. That team held Spring Training in our area at West Baden Springs Hotel.

"This place was Las Vegas before Las Vegas," said Steve Rondinaro, marketing manager for French Lick Resort. "Dillinger, Capone, all rumored to have come through here. At one time, there were up to 14 illegal gambling houses here in the Springs Valley, in the vicinity of these two hotels. This was a swinging place."

The resort has seen its share of big names.

"Lots of presidents through here. Perhaps the most notable story was Franklin Roosevelt basically got his presidential campaign underway here at the French Lick Springs Hotel at the national conference of governors. [He} got the support of the Democratic governors, and from that meeting was born his first run for presidency."

Out of all the stories to come out of French Lick and West Baden, the fact that the Cubs played there is not one of the most told.

"This is documentation of when the Cubbies were here, 1907, 1908, two years when they won back-to-back," said Rondinaro, pointing to a sign near the field where they would practice.

West Baden is even flying the "W" for the Cubs and hoisted the iconic flag up the pole this week. Chicago Cubs fans who just so happen to be visiting the area had to come take a look.

"Flying the W is a biggie," said Bob Huckeby, a Chicago area resident. "I understand it's been flown in Portugal, and the USS Illinois flew the flag, the W, yesterday." 

Rondinaro says the resort felt it was appropriate to fly the W.

"The last time they won the series, they had spring training here. By gosh we had to help them along, we have a shared history," he laughed. 

The Cubs and other teams would come to West Baden for spring training.

"The manager then, Frank Chance, believed in the curative and cleansing effects, if you will, of the spring water here," Rondinaro said. "So the Cubs drank lots of West Baden sprudel water,  cleaned out all that bad stuff that they accumulated over the winter, and then came out here and then worked out."

The track where they would practice is gone, but the field is still there. When it would rain, there was a pretty clever back-up plan inside the intricate dome atrium.

"They'd be in that beautiful dome, with mattresses stacked up, flinging baseballs around, if you can imagine that," Rondinaro said. "I don't think you'd see a team in there doing that today." 

For Cubs fans in French Lick, seeing the W flag in West Baden brings them pride.

"I'm missing the parade because I'm down there on business. I wish I was there to witness that," Rondinaro said.

History in West Baden is mixing with history made this week.

"It's wonderful," Huckeby said. "You look at them (the 1908 team), and you think they had the camaraderie that our team members have right now."

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