Saturday, January 4, 2014

JOBC Cubs Calendar--January 4

Today's Featured Cub: Lefty Tyler

On this day in 1918, the Cubs acquired a left handed starting pitcher named Lefty Tyler. He was in his 8th major league season when he came to the Cubs from the Boston Braves. (That's Lefty on the far left, along with fellow 1918 rotation members Hippo Vaughn, Phil Douglas and Claude Hendrix)

Lefty had one great season for the Cubs, going 19-8 in 1918, and pitched well in the World Series that year, but developed a strange shoulder injury the next year. He was sent to Minnesota by the Cubs to get examined at the Mayo Clinic. They said there was nothing wrong with his shoulder...his problems were caused by unusually bad teeth. They extracted almost all of his teeth to cure his shoulder injury, which amazingly, didn't do the trick.

Lefty was never the same after that. By the end of 1921, his big league career was over.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Ted Lilly

(2009 Upper Deck Baseball Card)

Ted Lilly was a fan favorite during his time with the Cubs (2007-2010). His full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, and yes he was named after the president. Although he didn't really walk softly and carry a big stick. He was simply a reliable pitcher, something all too rare on the North Side of Chicago.

On the back of this baseball card you'll see his 2008 stats: 17 wins, 9 losses, and a 4.09 ERA. His 34 starts that year led the league.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Alex Metzler 1903 (Cubs 1925)
He was just a 22-year-old kid with the Cubs when he got some playing time at the end of the 1925 season, but he really blossomed after he left the team. In 1927 he was the best defensive centerfielder in the league for the Chicago White Sox.

A/V Club

Al Bridwell was also born on this day in 1884. He played very briefly for the Cubs in 1913, but he had a long career with the Giants before that, and was involved in the most controversial moment in Giants & Cubs history. Bridwell hit the ball that led to the famous Merkle boner. That story is told in this exclusive JOBC video...

Friday, January 3, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 3

Today's Featured Cub: Ed Sauer

On this day in 1919, future Cub Ed Sauer was born. Sauer was a member of the last Cubs pennant winning team (1945). After two years as a seldom used reserve, Sauer was in the 1945 Opening day lineup because of the holdout of Peanuts Lowrey and the injury to Frank Secory, and remained on the roster all season. He even get two at-bats in the World Series. Unfortunately, he struck out both times.

When all of the World War II veterans came back to baseball the following season, Sauer went back to the minors. Ed got his last shot at the big leagues with the Cardinals and Braves in 1949, and by then, his big brother Hank had taken his slot in the Cubs outfield.

Hank Sauer won the MVP as a Cubs outfielder in 1952.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Adrian Garrett

(Topps 1974 Baseball Card)

Garrett got a chance to play for the Cubs in parts of three different seasons, 1973, 1974, and 1975. He played a little catcher and outfield, but was primarily used as a pinch hitter because he had a lot of power. (He hit 280 homers in the minors and 102 in Japan). On the back of this baseball card you'd see his 1973 stats: 54 at bats, 12 hits, 0 doubles, 0 triples, 3 Homers, 8 RBI, and a .222 average.

His little brother Wayne was a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets.

Nickname of the Day: Chico

Future Cub catcher Salvador Hernandez was born on this day in 1916. His teammates called him "Chico" and in 1942 he and Cubs pitcher Hi Bithorn formed the very first all-Latin battery in big league history. Chico was from Cuba. Bithorn was from Puerto Rico.

Cup of Coffee

Future Cub Pete Turgeon was born on this day in 1897. He played for the Cubs at the very end of the 1923 season and managed to get into three games and get six at bats. Four of those at bats came in the final game of the season when he started at shortstop for the Cubs. He got a single and scored a run in 6-3 loss to the Cardinals. He was back in the minors the following year and never made it back up for another taste of the show.

Pete Turgeon died in Texas in 1977.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~John Fluhre 1894
He played briefly for the Cubs in the 1915 season, including one game under the pseudonym William G. Morris.

~John Andre 1923
He was a Filipino-American who pitched for the Cubs at the age of 32 during the 1955 season, his only season in the big leagues.

~George Piktuzis 1932
He was a local Chicago boy from Morgan Park High School, but served in the military at the height of his baseball career, and only pitched in two games for the Cubs in 1956.

~Archie Reynolds 1946
Pitched in parts of three seasons for the Cubs, 1968-69-70, but didn't get significant time in any of those seasons. Later pitched for Angels and Brewers.

~Michael Restovich 1979
He played six big league seasons (2002-2007), but only one year with the Cubs (2006) and only got 12 at bats.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 2

Today's Featured Cub: Bill Madlock

Future Cub Bill Madlock was born on this day in 1951.

The Cubs complained for years about not having a third basemen to replace Santo, but the guy who immediately followed him was that guy. He won two battle titles with the Cubs before being traded for the nearly washed up Bobby Murcer. Madlock won two more batting titles, played eleven more seasons, had 2000 hits, and won a World Series. Murcer had one semi-good season in 1977, and was traded in 1979 for a guy named Pete Semall, who never made it to the majors.

Madlock was a great hitter, and he was tough. In September of 1974, he decided to teach the Mad Hungarian a lesson. Instead of just waiting for Al Hrabosky's ridiculous ritual between pitches, he would step out of the batters box every time Hrabosky got set to pitch--thereby forcing the ritual to start all over again.

This not only angered Hrabosky, it angered the crowd, and it angered the umpire. He told Madlock to "get back in the box." When Madlock stepped out again, the umpire told Hrabosky to throw the pitch anyway. The Mad Hungarian threw one right down the middle to an empty batter's box, and the ump called it a strike.

Now the Cubs were hopping mad. The next batter (Jose Cardenal) and the manager (Jim Marshall) both came out to argue and were standing in the general area of the batter's box, when Hrabosky pretended to be following the umpire's instructions again. He threw another pitch, but this time he drilled one of the Cubs. That was it.

The benches emptied. Punches were thrown (and like most baseball fights--not landed). Players wrestled each other to the ground.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Bill Madlock

(1975 Topps Baseball Card)

The stats on the back of this card tell the tale of very good 1974 rookie season: 453 at bats, 142 hits, 21 doubles, 5 triples, 9 homers, 54 RBI and a .313 average.

Nickname of the Day: Mad Dog

Bill Madlock's first nickname was not Mad Dog, that came later. His Cubs teammates noticed his big keester, and nicknamed him "Buns".

But Mad Dog suited him better because of his competitive nature, and it stuck. He was fined by the league in 1975 for arguing about a third strike. In 1976 he charged the mound against the Giants and started a brawl. The same year he got mad at his own pitchers for not protecting him from brushback pitches. He was the anti-Ernie, the kind of player that owner P.K. Wrigley just didn't like. There was no way he was going to pay him a big raise after his second batting title, and that's the main reason he was shipped out after the 1976 season.

Cup of Coffee

Future Cub Ray Jacobs was born on this day in 1902. He played exactly two games in the big leagues and both of them were with the Cubs in 1928.

In his first game, at Wrigley Field on April 20th, he pinch hit late in the game for Cubs first baseman Joe Kelly. He struck out.

His second and last at bat came a few weeks later at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Once again he came in as a pinch hitter, this time for Cubs pitcher Percy Jones--who had been getting rocked. Jacobs made another out, and never got another chance. Despite only playing in two games (both Cubs losses), he played alongside and against several Hall of Famers. His Cubs teammates at the time included Kiki Cuyler and Hack Wilson. The Pirates team he played against sported three Hall of Famers in their lineup that day, brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner, and Pie Traynor.

Jacobs died in 1952.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Nick Dumovich 1902 (Cubs 1923)
He was just a 21-year old kid when he got his chance, but in his only season in the bigs, the young pitcher was hit hard and didn't have good control.

~Dave Sappelt 1987 (Cubs 2012-2013)
He was obtained in the Sean Marshall trade but never really caught on as a fourth outfielder candidate for the Cubs.

A/V Club
The strange 1974 fight between the Cardinals and the Cubs is now on video via YouTube. It's even stranger than I described it...(Ignore the pro-Cardinals Ted Simmons slant after the fight)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 1

Today's Featured Cub: Hack Miller

On this day in 1894, future Cub Lawrence "Hack" Miller was born. He was the son of a circus performer named "Sebastian the Strong Man", and he was one of the more interesting figures in Cubs history. Here's a short excerpt from the Baseball Biography Project...

"Hack Miller entertained teammates by using his bare hand to pound tenpenny nails through two-inch planks of wood and taking the same-size nails and bending them with his fingers. It has been written that he pulled up “fair-sized trees by the roots” during spring training. He once was photographed holding a baseball bat above his head like a barbell, with a teammate hanging from each end. He bragged that one winter he lifted a car to free a woman who had been trapped beneath its wheels. And though he normally swung a 47-ounce bat, on occasion in the minor leagues he wielded a 65-ounce club that was two pounds heavier than those used by modern major leaguers of the 21st century."

Read the full Hack Miller profile here.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Ethan Allen

(Photo: 1933 Goudy Baseball Card)

Future Cub Ethan Allen was born on this day.

The Cubs were a strong team throughout the 1930s, including the 1936 season. They were the defending National League champions that May when they traded future Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (a relative disappointment with the Cubs) back to the Phillies for pitcher Curt Davis and a speedy left fielder near the end of his career; Ethan Allen.

Allen anchored left field for the rest of the season--his last year in the majors as a regular. The lifetime .300 hitter did manage to hit .295 for the Cubs, and he stole 12 bases, but it was obvious that he wasn't in the long-term plans for the team. They sold him to the Browns after the season.

But the Ethan Allen story doesn't end there, and it doesn't end with the end of his playing days in 1938. Allen may have had a bigger impact in the world than any other member of the 1936 Cubs. (No, he wasn't the founder of Ethan Allen furniture.)

Three years after he retired from baseball, former Cub Ethan Allen invented the Cadaco-Ellis board game All Star Baseball, which remains the best-selling baseball board game of all time.
Boys who grew up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s surely have fond memories of playing All-Star Baseball. The annual versions of the game were released every year between 1941 and 1993, the year Allen passed away. It wasn't discontinued until shortly thereafter because of competition from new computer games and greatly increased player licensing costs.

Allen wasn't just an entrepreneur after his playing days. He also became a college baseball coach; coaching the mens varsity team at Yale University. Among his players was a skinny first baseman who would go on to become the President of the United States: George Herbert Walker Bush.

He might not have had a big impact on the 1936 Cubs, but Ethan Allen made his mark on America.

Wrigley at 100

(Photo: Wrigley Field postcard, 1940s)

On this day in 2009, Wrigley Field was turned into an ice arena. The Detroit Red Wings came to town and played the Chicago Blackhawks in an actual NHL regular season game. They called it the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. It was the first sporting event at Wrigley that wasn't a baseball game since the Chicago Sting played their final home game at Wrigley in 1984.

Sadly, the Blackhawks lost the game 6-4.

Cup of Coffee

Also born on this day in 1948 was future Cubs catcher Randy Bobb. Randy got exactly one hit in the big leagues on August 21, 1968, a single against pitcher Ron Reed. He got into three more games in September the following season (during the epic 1969 collapse), and was traded to the Mets before the 1970 season for veteran catcher J.C. Martin. He never made it back to the big leagues. He was 21 years old at the time. Randy Bobb died in a car accident in 1982.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Hugh Nichol 1858 (Infielder/Outfielder 1881-1882 White Stockings)
Hugh was born in the UK.

~Ned Garvin 1874 (Pitcher, 1899-1900 Orphans)
Ned was kicked out of the National League for attacking the team's traveling secretary.

~Tom Downey 1884 (Infielder, 1912 Cubs)
Tom had a good career with other clubs, most notably the Cincinnati Reds)

~Teddy Kearns 1900 (First Baseman, 1924-1925 Cubs)
Teddy only played in seven games for the Cubs over two seasons.

~Roberto Rivera 1969 (Pitcher, 1995 Cubs)
He was a September call up for the Cubs, but also later pitched out of the bullpen for the Padres.