Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Day 1973

One of the most dramatic opening days in Cubs history had an unlikely hero.

The Cubs were down a run in the bottom of the ninth.

Joe Pepitone led off the inning with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Cleo James. Ron Santo got on base thanks to an error by Expos 2B Ron Hunt, and was also replaced by a pinch runner. Glenn Beckert walked to load the bases.

The Expos brought in their closer Mike Marshall, the best closer in baseball. He promptly walked Randy Hundley to tie the game, but he buckled down and got Don Kessinger to pop out down the line, and struck out Jim Hickman.

That brought up Cubs lead off man Rick Monday. The bases were loaded. The score was tied 2-2. It was the bottom of the ninth. Marshall vs. Monday. Marshall knew he couldn't give Monday anything to hit, but he tried to be a little too fine around the plate, and eventually walked bring in the winning run.

Ron Santo's pinch runner scored that winning run. He was sent to the minors after that and never again appeared in another major league game as a player.

His name was Tony LaRussa.