Sunday, March 2, 2014


In case you missed it, we have relaunched our website Just One Bad Century. After six years of serving Cubs nation with our old design, we figured it was time to spruce up the joint a bit. It remains the #1 spot to find stories about the interesting and complicated history of the Chicago Cubs.

What will you find on Just One Bad Century?


*Today's Cubs birthdays. Brief bios and stories about every Cub (and Cub-related personality) celebrating a birthday on that particluar day. By the end of this year, JOBC will have every single player who ever wore the Cubs (or White Stockings, Colts, or Orphans) uniform in the archives.

*The A/V Club. A video or audio clip about the Cubs. Check the homepage for new videos or audio clips every single day.

These items used to be here on the JOBC Blog, but will now migrate back to our mother site.


*This Week in Wrigley History. Once the season begins you'll see stories about the best games played that week in Wrigley history. There's a hundred years of stories to choose from, and we think we've chosen the best.

*Historical Events: Where were the Cubs? Have you ever wondered what the Cubs were up to during Custer's Last Stand? President Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy's assassinations? When man walked on the moon? Our research staff has gone through the archives and will deliver those stories to you weekly. If it happened in history between the end of March and the beginning of November any year since 1871, we've got a corresponding Cubs story to share.

*This Week in 1908. Our award-winning chronicle returns with photos, videos (silent ones), and profiles of what was happening the last year the Cubs won the World Series.

*This Week in 1945. This popular segment also finds a spot in our new home, with updated stories, photos, and newsreel videos from the last year the Cubs were in the World Series.


*We have a chance for you to win $1908 in cold hard cash. All you have to do is pick the exact date and starting pitcher of the Cubs on the day they clinch their next World Series championship. Piece of cake, right? (I'm picking my son on November 1, 2030, but I don't want to sway your vote)


*We're particularly proud of our new "Building Character Since 1909" t-shirt, but the old favorites are still available in the JOBC Store.

And there's much much more at, including all the latest news about the Cubs, and some of my own personal Wrigley Field memories. Be sure to stop by and join in the fun.

Friday, February 28, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 28

~Tom Walsh 1885 (Cubs 1906)
Walsh was a member of the winningest team in MLB history, the 1906 Cubs, but just barely. (He did make it into the team picture, though. That's him, second from left, in the front row.) Tom was a catcher, and got into exactly two games (one in August, and one in September). He was also given only one opportunity to hit. (He struck out.) Despite being only 21 years old, Walsh never played another game in the big leagues. According to Baseball Reference, he never played a game in the minor leagues either.

~Dolan Nichols 1930 (Cubs 1958)
Nick, as he was called by his teammates, was a reliever for the 1958 Cubs. In 24 appearances, he earned one save. The Cubs sent him back down to the minors by mid-season, and although he got another shot in September after the rosters were expanded, that was the exent of his big league career. Nichols pitched in the minors for a few more years before retiring at the age of 30.

~Jim Kremmel 1948 (Cubs 1974)
He was the ninth overall pick of the draft in 1971, but by December of 1973, he was the player to be named later in the Ron Santo trade with the White Sox. Kremmel appeared in 23 games for the Cubs in 1974, his most extended time in the majors. His lifetime ERA was a disappointing 6.08.

The A/V Club

On this day in 1981, the Cubs traded Dave Kingman. He may have been a clubhouse cancer, but he had unbelievable power. This video shows his monumental homer (the third longest homer in Wrigley history) in 1979. Notice he's wearing #10, a number now retired by the Cubs (in honor of Ron Santo)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 27

~Sammy Taylor 1933 (Cubs 1958-1962)
Taylor was a catcher for the Cubs in the late 50s and early 60s. His best season with the bat was 1959, when he clubbed 13 homers. But he also had a very rough time of it behind the plate, leading the league in homers and stolen bases allowed. He was also a key participant in the strangest play in Cubs history, on June 30, 1959 when two balls ended up in play at the same time. It all started when a missed strike three got away from him. Taylor, thinking it was a foul ball, didn't go after the ball. The bat boy, also thinking it was a foul ball, picked it up and tossed it to field announcer Pat Pieper. Pieper saw that the batter was running to first base, so he realized it was a live ball, and let it drop at his feet. Third baseman Alvin Dark ran over to grab it. Meanwhile, the umpire gave Sammy Taylor a new ball out of habit. In the confusion, the runner on first base, Stan Musial, made a run for second base. Cubs pitcher Bob Anderson took the ball out of Sammy Taylor's catcher's mitt and fired it to second base at the same time that third baseman Alvin Dark threw his ball to second base. Ernie Banks was covering second and caught one of the balls heading his way, while the other ball escaped into centerfield. Ernie tagged out Musial with one ball, while center fielder Bobby Thomson lobbed the other ball into the dugout. Thinking that "real" ball has been tossed into the dugout, Musial kept on running and scored. The umpires had a very long discussion about this play on the field before finally ruling that Musial was out because Ernie tagged him. The Cardinals were enraged by the call on the field and lodged an official protest. The protest wasn't necessary. The Cardinals won the game anyway, 4-1. (Photo 1959 Topps Baseball Card)

~Bud Teachout 1904 (Cubs 1930-1931)
Bud had a good rookie season in 1930, winning 11 games with a 4.06 ERA, quite an accomplishment considering 1930 was a season for hitters. Many hitting records were set that year, including Hack Wilson's 191 RBI. Bud's Cubs team, however, choked a big lead down the stretch, and just missed repeating as NL Champs. That collapse cost Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy his job. (He went to the Yankees and won seven World Series, including one against the Cubs). Teachout was traded in 1931 along with Hack Wilson in the trade that brought Burleigh Grimes to Chicago.

~Leroy Herrmann 1906 (Cubs 1932-1933)
He pitched in relief for the pennant winning 1932 Cubs, but didn't make it on the postseason roster. Leroy pitched in 16 games over his two Cubs seasons, earning two wins and a save, but struggling mightily with big league hitters. His lifetime ERA is over 6.

~Carl Warwick 1937 (Cubs 1966)
Warwick was an outfielder for six big league seasons. He was the starting centerfielder for the expansion Houston Colt 45s, but was mainly a defensive replacement for the Cubs in 1966, for whom he got his final twenty-two at-bats in the majors. He earlier played for the Orioles, Cardinals and Dodgers.

~Ron Hassey 1953 (Cubs 1984)
Hassey had a long and successful career as a backup catcher (14 seasons in the big leagues). He came to the Cubs along with Rick Sutcliffe in the trade that sent Joe Carter and Mel Hall to the Indians. Hassey didn't get a lot of playing time backing up Jody Davis, but he was a part of the team that won the division. The Cubs traded him to the Yankees after the 1984 season.

~Matt Stairs 1968 (Cubs 2001)
Stairs was brought in to play first base for the Cubs, even though he had previously only played a handful of games at that position. It didn't work out. The Cubs traded for Fred McGriff at the trading deadline to take his place. Nevertheless, Stairs did hit 16 homers in a Cubs uniform, and got several clutch hits during that 2001 season. That was his only year in Chicago, but he did play ten more seasons in the big leagues, and won a ring with the Phillies in 2008.

~Willie Banks 1969 (Cubs 1994-1995)
He was a World Champion with the 1991 Twins and was brought to Chicago by his old general manager Andy McPhail, but Banks didn't pitch well in Chicago. His two seasons with the Cubs were the strike years of 1994 and 1995. Before the strike he was hit hard as a starter. After the strike he was hit hard as a reliever. The Cubs traded him to the Dodgers in June of 1995.

~Craig Monroe 1977 (Cubs 2007)
The Cubs acquired Monroe from the Tigers to help them down the stretch during their division winning season of 2007. He had been a key contributor the Tigers' World Series team the previous year, but he fizzled in Chicago, hitting only .204, and not making the postseason roster. Two bits of trivia about Monroe: his mother is named "Marilyn Monroe" and his cousin is former Bears defensive back Nathan Vasher.

A/V Club

On this day in 1998, Harry Caray was laid to rest. His good buddy Pete Vonachen gave a very memorable tribute...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

JOBC Cubs Calendar--February 26

~Grover Cleveland Alexander 1887 (Cubs 1918-1926)
His 373 wins are the third most in baseball history. And yes, he was a Cub. He won 128 games in his years with the Cubs, and had one of the best seasons in baseball history in 1920, when he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. But Alexander was troubled during his Cubs years. The only reason they got him at all was because the owner of the Phillies didn't want to get stuck paying the contract of his star pitcher (a three-time 30 game winner) if he got drafted into World War I. He did get drafted, and he came back from the war a changed man. Old Pete, as he was known, became one of the biggest drinkers in the league--during Prohibition. He showed up drunk to games. He fell asleep in the clubhouse and passed out drunk in the dugout. He smoked like a chimney before every game. He ignored his manager, and openly challenged his authority. The Cubs were understanding up to a point. After all, the man was suffering through medical, physical and mental problems. He was an epileptic, and was prone to seizures. His arm started hurting during his Cubs career, and he had the ligament "snapped back into place" by a man named James "Bonesetter" Smith. And throughout it all he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his horrific war experience. Somehow, against all odds, he continued to pitch well. In 1923, he pitched 305 innings and walked only 30 men. In 1924, he won his 300th game. But in 1926, after his catcher and best friend Bill Killefer went to the Cardinals, Alexander fell apart. In his last ten games with the Cubs, Old Pete showed up drunk six times, and missed two games altogether. The Cubs released him and the Cardinals picked him up on waivers. Back with his best friend Killefer, he regained his pitching touch and led the Cardinals to the World Series championship, winning Game 6, and saving Game 7 of the 1926 series. Two years after his 1950 death, his story was told in the film "The Winning Team," starring Ronald Reagan. Grover Cleveland Alexander remains the only player in baseball history to be named after a president, and portrayed in a movie by a president.

~Harry Weaver 1892 (Cubs 1917-1919)
Harry pitched for the Cubs during their early years in the new ballpark on Clark & Addison. He won three games in three big league seasons, but pitched fairly well in his limited opportunites. Harry stuck around in the minors until 1924.

~Joe Graves 1906 (Cubs 1926)
Joe played exactly one day in the big leagues, and it was for the Cubs on September 26, 1926, the last day of the season. He played third base in the first game of a double header against Brooklyn and got one at bat against Dazzy Vance (he didn't get on base). He started the second game of the double header and went 0 for 4. The Cubs lost both games.

~Don Lee 1934 (Cubs 1966)
He pitched in 16 games for the Cubs and went 2-1 with a 7.11 ERA. That was a very bad fact, it still has the worst record in Cubs history (103 losses). His stint in Chicago marked the end of his big league career. He finished up with 40 wins in nine big league seasons with the Tigers, Senators, Twins, Angels, Astros and Cubs. His father Thornton also pitched in the Major Leagues (mostly for the White Sox)

~Jose Reyes 1983 (Cubs 2006)
Not to be confused with the stud infielder Jose Reyes (Mets, Marlins, Blue Jays), this Jose Reyes was a catcher who got a cup of coffee with the Cubs at the end of the 2006 season. He batted five times and struck out three of those times. He also got 2 RBI with his only big league hit. He was signed by the Mets the following year but never made it up to their big league club.

~Hector Rondon 1988 (Cubs 2013)
The Venezuelan was a Rule 5 pick for the Cubs, and made their opening day roster in 2013. He pitched in 45 games for a team that people simply stopped watching.

~Mark DeRosa 1975 (Cubs 2007-2008)
DeRosa played 16 seasons in the bigs, the best two of which were with the Cubs. He was an important part of the first back-to-back playoff teams for the Cubs in a century. DeRosa played wherever the Cubs needed him (OF, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B), and seemed to get all the clutch hits. He can't even be blamed for the collapse in both of those playoff series because he hit over .300 each time, although he did make a key error in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS. The Cubs traded him after the season for pitcher Chris Archer. Before retiring, DeRosa won a World Series ring as a member of the 2010 San Francisco Giants.

A/V Club

Grover Cleveland Alexander in action during the 1926 World Series...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 25

~Ron Santo 1940 (Cubs 1960-1973, Cubs announcer 1990-2010)
He was the captain of that ill-fated (but incredibly talented) 1969 Cubs team--the man who clicked his heels after each Cubs victory. Santo was also the one who had the black cat cross his path while he stood in the on-deck circle in New York. Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer, something he wanted to be more than anything else in the world. Unfortunately, he wasn't inducted until after his death. His credentials should never have been questioned. Santo was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover at third base. He hit 342 homers, and was the dominant player at his position (in the National League) during his playing days. And he did it all despite suffering from diabetes. After his playing career he joined the Cubs radio broadcast booth, teaming up with the great Pat Hughes. He lost both legs to diabetes during his broadcasting days, and made an even stronger bond with Cub fans. He never complained about his medical misfortune, and he exhibited the same kind of raw emotion that Cub fans experience: Incredible joy when they won, and pure agony when they lost. His number was retired in 2003 and a flag commemorating Santo now flies on the left field foul pole at Wrigley Field.

~Howard J. Earl 1869 (Colts 1890)
They called him "Slim Jim" because he was a tall and lanky infielder. He played first, second, and third base for the second place team. Hall of Famer Cap Anson was his manager during his only year in Chicago.

~Zeppo Marx 1901 (Cubs fan 1909-1920)
The Marx family had moved from New York to Chicago in 1909. For much of that time they lived in a large house at 4512 South Grand Boulevard (now called Martin Luther King Boulevard). The house is still there. The Marx Brothers (Gummo, Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) were already a traveling Vaudeville Act in April of 1917 when America entered World War I. They had been touring in the south when War was declared. But the war forced them to take drastic measures: they purchased a farm in LaGrange, Illinois. Their mother had heard that farmers were going to be exempt from military service, and she wanted to do whatever was necessary to keep her boys out the fight...even if it meant becoming farmers. This is the way Groucho Marx described his days on the LaGrange farm..."The first day we got up at 5 in the morning. The second morning we dawdled until 6. By the end of the first week we slept until noon, which gave us just enough time to catch the 1:07 train to Chicago to see the Chicago Cubs play." They became regulars at Wrigley Field (then known as Cubs park) during the World Series year of 1918. The Marx family moved back to New York in the fall of 1920 and a decade later they moved west to Hollywood.

~Monte Irvin 1919 (Cubs 1956)
Irvin was nicknamed "Mr. Murder" for the way he murdered the baseball. He was a star in the Negro Leagues and didn't make his debut in the Majors until 1949 at the age of 30. But even though he only played a few big league seasons and hit only 99 career homers, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. He had a few great seasons with the Giants, leading them to the National Leauge pennant in 1951, and the World Series championship in 1954. When the Cubs got him in 1956, he was already 37 years old. His power stroke was diminished, but he was still the best leftfielder in the league. In his last big league season he led the National League in fielding percentage and range.

~Bob Brenly 1954 (Cubs announcer 2005-2012)
He was a former big league ballplayer (Giants, Blue Jays) and World Series winning manager (Diamondbacks) before joining the Cubs television booth. Brenly and Len Kasper formed a great team during their years together. Brenly was known for his tough criticism of certain players (especially Alfonso Soriano), and he and Kasper often also riffed about rock and roll (and even played together on stage at the House of Blues every year before the Cubs convention). He left the Cubs booth after the 2012 season when the Arizona Diamondbacks offered him a chance to broadcast the games of the team he took to the championship.

~Ed Lynch 1956 (Cubs 1986-87, Cubs GM 1994-2000)
Lynch was a journeyman starter for the Mets in his seventh big league season when the Cubs acquired him in June of 1986. The Mets would go on to the win the World Series without Ed, while the Cubs finished in 5th place. After a year and a half with the Cubs, Lynch retired. He worked in management with the Padres for a while before being named the General Manager of the Cubs in 1994 by team president Andy McPhail. He made some good trades (acquiring Henry Rodriguez) and some bad trades (trading Jon Garland for Matt Karchner), but he was mainly let go because the Cubs only reached the post season one time during Lynch's years at the helm. He's currently working as a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.

~Henry Rodriguez 1987 (Cubs 2013)
Not to be confused with the Henry Rodriguez who played left field for the Cubs in the late 90s, this Henry Rodriguez (no relation) is a pitcher with a dynamite fastball. Unfortunately, he can't control it. In his five big league seasons (through 2013), he has 36 wild pitches in only 148 innings pitched. He signed with the Miami Marlins in 2014.

~Andy Pafko 1929 (Cubs 1943-1951)
Nicknamed "Handy Andy," because of his incredibly dependable hitting and fielding, Pafko was one of the most popular Cubs, and a star of their last World Series team of 1945. "Handy Andy" was a five-time all-star during his Cubs career, the first three times as an outfielder (although one of those times, 1945, they didn't play the all-star game because of the war). After legendary Cubs' third baseman Stan Hack retired after the 1947 season, Pafko replaced him on the hot corner long enough to be named an All-Star there too, making him one of the few people to achieve All-Star status in both the infield and outfield. His 1950 season can only be described as "DiMaggio-esque". That year Andy Pafko knocked the ball out of National League ballparks 36 times while only striking out 32 times. Only 14 players have ever accomplished that feat. Pafko’s 1950 season was so impressive that Reds’ president Warren Giles said if he could choose any player in the National League to help improve his team, he would choose Pafko. Naturally, Handy Andy was rewarded for that incredible season in true Cubs fashion. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was crushed when the Cubs traded him, and it was a trade that Chicago would forever regret. The players they got in return had almost no impact with the Cubs, while Pafko would go on to play in the 1952 World Series with the Dodgers and the 1957 and 1958 World Series with the Braves. He came back to his hometown of Chicago after his playing career was over, settling in the northwestern suburbs, and passed away in 2013 at the age of 92.

A/V Club

Today's Cubs birthday boy Ron Santo went through serious medical problems, even during his playing career...

Monday, February 24, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 24

~Pinky Pittenger 1899 (Cubs 1925)
Pinky was a back up third baseman and shortstop for a Cubs team that made history--they were the first Cubs team to ever finish in last place. After that blip year of 1925, the Cubs didn't finish in last place again for another 23 years. Pinky's real name was Clark Alonzo Pittenger, and he was one of the most educated players on the team…he had gone to dental school at Ohio State University. Of course, that didn't stop him from getting involved in an altercation along with his manager (the instigator) Rabbit Maranville, after which both of them wound up in jail. Pinky only played with the Cubs for one season (1925), and he hit .312 in limited action, but the Cubs released him after that season. He played parts of 7 seasons in the majors (3 with the Red Sox, 3 with the Reds, and 1 with the Cubs) and in more than 1000 Major League plate appearances he managed to hit exactly one home run.

~Wilbur Cooper 1892 (Cubs 1925-1926)
Cooper is one of the most successful left-handed pitchers in baseball history. He was a four-time 20-game winner, and won over 200 games in his big league career. The Cubs got him along with Charlie Grimm and Rabbit Maranville after the 1924 season. He had just won 20 games for the Pirates, and was not happy to be traded to the Cubs. He felt the Pirates were on the verge of winning it all, and he was right. The trade robbed him of his only chance to pitch in the World Series. (The Pirates won it all in 1925). His time in Chicago was disappointing. He went 12-14 for the last place 1925 Cubs, and was released in June of the following year. At that time he had the career record for most innings pitched and games started as a left-handed pitcher; records that have since been broken.

~Lynn Nelson 1905 (Cubs 1930-1934)
He was a pitcher that was known for his hitting--they called him "Line Drive" Nelson. Nelson had his best season as a pitcher with the Cubs in 1933, when he went 5-5 with a 3.21 ERA. His best season as a hitter came in 1937 (with the A's), when "Line Drive" hit four home runs. Unfortunately he was also prone to giving up the long ball. In 1939 he led the league with 27 homers allowed.

~Earl Grace 1907 (Cubs 1929-1931)
Earl was a catcher who got a cup of coffee with the Cubs in two different seasons--1929 and 1931. He was traded to the Pirates early in 1931 for fellow backup catcher Rollie Hemsley. Earl's best season was 1932 when he hit eight homers for the Pirates. Grace remained in the big leagues until 1937.

~Mike Sember 1953 (Cubs 1977-1978)
Sember was a local boy (Hammond, Indiana) who got a cup of coffee with the Cubs in the late 70s. He was mainly a defensive replacement at shortstop and third base. Sember had a grand total of seven career big league at bats (all with the Cubs), and got two hits (both singles).

~Rob Bowen 1981 (Cubs 2007)
The Cubs got him from the Padres in the Michael Barrett trade in June of 2007, and Bowen was expected to become their regular catcher. After going 2 for 31, the Cubs traded him to the A's a month later for Jason Kendall.

A/V Club

The 1925 World Series champion Pirates featured ex-Cub George Grantham, and future Cub Kiki Cuyler...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 23

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Jim Bolger 1932 (Cubs 1955-1959)
Bolger backed up all three outfield positions for the Cubs in the late 50s. His best season was 1957, when he got the most extensive playing time of his career. He hit .275 in 273 at bats, and knocked in 33 runs. He also played for the Reds, Indians, and A's in his big league career. His nickname was Dutch. (Photo: 1955 Topps Baseball Card)

~Rondell White 1972 (Cubs 2000-2001)
The Cubs got White at the trading deadline in 2000, and he was considered a key addition to their lineup, providing protection for Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace. When he was healthy he played well for the Cubs, hitting over .300 and playing a very solid outfield. Unfortunately, he wasn't healthy often, and the Cubs let him leave after the 2001 season. White played 15 seasons in the big leagues, and was an All-Star in 2003 for the San Diego Padres. (He also played for the Expos, Yankees, Royals, Tigers and Twins)

A/V Club

Today's Cubs birthday Rondell White saves the game for the Expos. Dig the French play by play...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 22

Today's Cubs birthdays

~Steve Barber 1938 (1970)
Barber was a two-time All-Star pitcher for the Orioles in the 1960s. He was also a 20-game winner. But by the time he arrived in Chicago, he had endured less successful stints with both the Yankees and the Seattle Pilots. He was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in April of 1970 and was released by the end of June. His ERA in only five appearances (all in relief) was 9.63. After leaving the Cubs, Barber managed to stay in the big leagues until 1974, pitching in relief for the Braves, Angels, and Giants. (Photo: 1970 Topps Baseball Card--he never had one as a Cub)

~Eric Yelding 1965 (Cubs 1993)
He had one of the greatest nicknames in Cubs history. His teammates called him Cool Breeze. Yelding was an infielder/outfielder who was known for his blazing speed. One year with the Astros (before he came to the Cubs) he stole 64 bases. Unfortunately, he was also caught stealing 25 times. He was a utility man for the Cubs in 1993, but was injured and missed most of the season. He hit only .204 in his limited time. He never played in the big leagues again.

A/V Club

This commercial describes baseball in the 1920s perfectly...

Friday, February 21, 2014

JOBC Cubs Alamanc--February 21

Adam Greenberg 1981 (Cubs 2005)
His Cubs career was undeniably unique. On July 9, 2005, the Chicago Cubs called him up to the big leagues. They were in Miami facing the Florida Marlins. Greenberg's entire family flew down to Florida from Connecticut to watch his first major league series. They could barely contain their excitement in the 7th inning of the game, when Adam was called on to pinch hit for Cubs pitcher Will Ohman. The pitcher was Valerio De Los Santos, a left-hander. "I get in the box," Greenberg remembers, "and all of a sudden he throws it, and I'm thinking, 'Am I swinging?' and all of a sudden, bam."

Here's the way New York Times reporter Ira Berkow described the only pitch of Greenberg's major league career: "No one imagined that the very first pitch the left-handed Greenberg faced in the major leagues would be a fastball that would crack him squarely in the head, smashing against his helmet and the part of his neck just under his right ear, making a sound so loud that it stunned the crowd of almost 23,000. His parents, his sister and two brothers had come to Dolphins Stadium from Guilford, Conn., near New Haven. His grandfather was watching at home on television. His mother, Wendy Greenberg, said she was horrified when she saw her son drop to the ground as Cubs Manager Dusty Baker and the trainer rushed to the plate."

Greenberg had to be removed from the game and was placed on the disabled list after the game. He never returned to the Cubs, and never returned to the majors until the Marlins gave him one at bat at the end of the 2012 season as a publicity stunt. He struck out. (Photo: 2002 Upper Deck Future Gems Baseball Card)

~Joe Hughes 1880 (Orphans 1902)
His cup of coffee in the big leagues was only slightly longer than Adam Greenberg's. Hughes played in exactly one game, on August 30, 1902 in Pittsburgh. He played right field and got three at bats (no hits) for the Orphans (Cubs) that day. The Cubs lost in the bottom of the 12th inning, 3-2.

~Ted Savage 1936(Cubs 1967-1968)
Savage played for eight teams in the big leagues, including the Cubs. He was a fourth outfielder type, who never really claimed a full-time position. With the Cubs he hit .218 in 1967. They traded him early in 1968 and it turned out to be a great trade. In exchange for Savage and Jim Ellis, the Dodgers sent the Cubs Jim Hickman and Phil Regan. Both players were key contributors to the Cubs over the next few years.

~William Petersen 1953 (Cubs fan 1953-present)
He was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1953 and grew up a Cubs fan. The Cubs of his youth were some of the worst teams imaginable, yet Wrigley Field was always one of his favorite destinations. But he didn't just watch the Cubs there, he also watched the Bears. When he was 9 years old his dad took him to a bar to watch the 1963 Championship game. "Hey! The game was blacked-out in Chicago," he explained. "We had to watch it somewhere. It's one of my favorite childhood memories."

After college he performed with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and was a co-founder of the Remains Theater Ensemble which also included other prominent Chicago actors Gary Cole and Ted Levine. And he attended Cubs games. His big break in the movies came in 1986 in the film "To Live and Die in LA." He continued working in films ("Manhunter," "Young Guns II") and television mini-series like "The Kennedy's" and "Lonesome Dove," but he really hit the jackpot in 2000 with his starring role (he was the producer as well) in the mega-hit TV show "CSI."

But even during those heady Hollywood days, he longed for Chicago. "Oh God, I don't know how long I can stick with this," he said. "I'd be in Chicago right now if it wasn't for this show. L.A.'s not my style. Just the other day, I had some friends in from Chicago and we went to see the Cubs beat the Dodgers out here. I was telling them there's no community here. You can't walk across the street from the stadium to the bar. I think that's a microcosm for the whole city." He still comes back to Chicago at least once a year to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field.

A/V Club

Today's birthday boy William Petersen leads the crowd in song...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 20

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Frank Gustine 1920 (Cubs 1949)
Frank was coming off three consecutive all-star seasons when he arrived in Chicago in December of 1948. The Hoopeston Illinois native was probably excited to be playing for the Cubs after spending the previous ten seasons with the Pirates. (His roommate on the road with the Pirates was Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner). Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out for Frank in Chicago. He split time at third base with Bob Ramazzotti, and neither of them hit well. Gustine hit only .226, and was released before the season was over. He resurfaced briefly with the St. Louis Browns the following season, but that was the end of his big league career. (Photo: 1948 Leaf Baseball Card)

~Jesus Figuero, 1957 (Cubs 1980)
The Dominican outfielder played for the Cubs one year, his only season in the big leagues. The Cubs used him mainly as a pinch hitter that season. He was a contact hitter with a good eye, but didn't really have the power necessary to stick in the majors as a corner outfielder. The Cubs traded him after the season (along with Jerry Martin) to the Giants, and he couldn't crack the roster there. The Giants had a stacked outfield that included Larry Herndon, Jack Clark, Bill North, and Jeff Leonard.

~Ryan Sweeney, 1985 (Cubs 2013-present)
Sweeney was a high draft pick of the White Sox, but he has travelled around quite a bit since he was drafted. The Sox traded him to the A's as part of the Nick Swisher deal, then the A's traded him to the Red Sox in the Josh Reddick deal. The Cubs signed him as a free agent just before the 2013 season. He probably would have started the whole season in centerfield, but he was injured. The Cubs signed him to a two-year deal before the 2014 season.

~Julio Borbon, 1986 (Cubs 2013)
He stole 19 bases in only 46 games as a rookie with the Rangers in 2009, and it appeared he was going to be a big star. But Borbon was undisciplined at the plate and couldn't get on base enough to take advantage of his speed. The Cubs claimed him off waivers in 2013 and he had a few good moments, but he was abruptly released in August when he angered manager Dale Sveum with a boneheaded play on the basepaths.

A/V Club

Cubs birthday boy Julio Borbon's first career homer, as a member of the Rangers...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 19

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Jim Cosman 1943 (Cubs 1970)
Though Cosman is listed as a "Rookie Star" on this Topps baseball card, he pitched briefly for the Cardinals in 1966 and 1967 before coming to the Cubs. The big right-hander (6'5") had control problems throughout his pitching career. With the Cardinals he walked 24 men in 31 innings in 1967. He didn't make it back to the majors until the Cubs gave him a shot three seasons later. The date was April 30, 1970, and the Cubs were facing the Atlanta Braves. Chicago was already down 6-2 when Cosman came in to start the seventh inning. The first batter he faced was Hank Aaron and Aaron took him deep. Cosman didn't make it out of the inning, and never pitched in another big league game. After leaving baseball he became a successful executive in the waste management business. He passed away in January of 2013.

~Miguel Batista 1971 (Cubs 1997)
Miguel was a member of that horrible '97 Cubs team, and he didn't pitch particularly well either (5.70 ERA), but he did serve a very important role. He was the trade bait that convinced the Montreal Expos to trade Henry Rodriguez to the Cubs. Henry was a key part of the Cubs 1998 playoff team and helped stablize a position (left field) that had fielded eleven different opening day starters in the previous eleven seasons. Batista pitched for 18 seasons in the big leagues with the Pirates, Marlins, Expos, Royals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Nationals, Mets, Braves, and the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. (The team that broke the ex-Cub curse. Two other ex-Cubs were on that team--Mark Grace & Luis Gonzalez)

A/V Club

On this day in 1987, Harry Caray suffered a stroke while playing cards. He would miss the first few months of the 1987 season. One of the people who filled in was Bill Murray...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 18

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Jerry Morales 1949
(Cubs 1974-1977, 1981-1983)
Jerry was acquired in the trade with the Padres that cost the Cubs fan favorite Glenn Beckert, but Morales would have a very respectable Cubs career. For parts of two decades his reliable glove patrolled all three outfield positions for the Cubs. His best season in a Cubs uniform was probably 1977. Morales was named to the All-Star team that year, and even scored a run in the 1977 All-Star Game. But to many of his Chicago fans, Jerry Morales will remembered for his most impressive off-the-field accomplishment. In the era of the bushy mustache, Jerry managed to grow the bushiest.

~Walter Thornton 1875 (Colts/Orphans 1895-1898)
He was an outfielder and a pitcher for Chicago (when that was still relatively commonplace), and had a few respectable seasons, but he will always be remembered most for what happened on August 21, 1898. He took the mound in the second game of a doubleheader against Brooklyn (then known as the Bridegrooms) and pitched a no-hitter. Chicago won the game 2-0. After the season he left baseball in a contract dispute (at the age of 23). He later became a devout follower of another ex-Chicago-ballplayer, Billy Sunday. In the last few years of his life (he lived until 1960), he roamed the city of Los Angeles as a street preacher, doing whatever he could to help the poor.

~Zip Zabel 1891 (Cubs 1913-1915)
When the Zabels had their little boy in Kansas around the time of George Washington's birthday, they named him George Washington Zabel. But no-one ever called him George. His teammates called him Zip. Zabel pitched for the Cubs during their last three seasons at the rickety firetrap known as West Side Grounds (1913-1915). On June 17, 1915 he set a record there that will never be broken. He came in to spell Cubs starter Bert Humphries in the first inning, and went on to pitch the next 18 and 1/3 innings in relief. He faced 78 batters in those innings, and only gave up two runs. The Cubs finally won the game 4-3 in the bottom of the 19th.

~Cal Neeman 1929 (Cubs 1957-1960)
Cal was the starting catcher for the Cubs in 1957 and hit 10 homers, but he couldn't hold on to that spot and spent the rest of his career as a backup. In May of 1960 he was part of the trade that sent Tony Taylor to the Phillies in exchange for Don Cardwell and Ed Bouchee.

~Kevin Tapani 1964 (Cubs 1997-2001)
Tapani was coming off seven consecutive double-digit-win seasons in the American League (and a World Series championship in Minnesota) when he joined the Cubs before the 1997 season. He didn't realize it at the time, but he was walking into a buzzsaw. That '97 Cubs team lost their first 14 games on the way to a humiliating last place finish. On the other hand, Tapani was a key contributor the following season when the Cubs made it to the playoffs. He won 19 games during the regular season, and was leading the Braves 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the NLDS when Ryan Klesko touched him for a game-tying homer. The Cubs lost it in the 10th. Tapani lost it the following year, and never put up those kind of numbers again.

~Shawn Estes 1973 (Cubs 2003)
He was the fifth starter on a Cubs team that also sent Wood, Prior, Zambrano, and Clement to the mound. Estes was clearly the weak link. Dusty Baker remembered him fondly for his 19-win All-Star season with the Giants (Dusty was his manager), so he kept sending him out there every five days, and Estes kept getting rocked. His ERA in 28 starts was 5.83. The Cubs unloaded him after the season and he won 15 games for the Rockies in 2004. Shawn's claim to fame (other than his incredible 1997 season) happened on May 24, 2000. He became the first Giants pitcher to hit a grand slam home run.

~Brian Bogusevic 1984 (Cubs 2013)
He was drafted as a pitcher by the Astros, but converted to outfield. The Cubs signed him as a free agent before the 2013 season, and Brian would have had a decent chance to log significant playing time on that team, but he kept getting hurt. After the season he was traded to the Marlins for Justin Ruggiano.

A/V Club

Cubs birthday boy Kevin Tapani was in the dugout watching this famous rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 1998...

Monday, February 17, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 17

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Doyle Lade 1921 (Cubs 1946-1950)
The Cubs got him from the White Sox during the 1946 season, and Doyle stayed with the Cubs the rest of the decade. His best season was 1947. He won 11 games and posted a 3.94 ERA pitching for a less-than-stellar Cubs team. After that season, he was mostly used as a spot starter until his release in spring training 1951. Lade was a farm boy from Nebraska, and his teammates called him Porky. (Photo: 1949 Bowman Baseball Card)

~Pat Pieper 1886 (Cubs P.A. announcer/1916-1974)
He was known for his trademark opener..."Tention! Attention Please! Get your pencils and scorecards ready and I will give you the correct lineups for today's game." He got the job in 1916 when the Cubs first started playing in what is now known as Wrigley Field, and he kept the job until his death in 1974--an incredible streak of 59 years. When he first began, he had to do his job with a gigantic megaphone (this was before a public address system had been invented.) He said the starting lineups to the crowd from third base, and then did the same thing on the other side of the field from first base. In 1932, the Cubs finally installed a public address system. Pieper was the PA for 6 World Series, but he also handled those chores for the twenty consecutive seasons the Cubs finished in the bottom half of the league (1946-1966). When he died shortly after the 1974 season (October 22nd), the Cubs had just finished their most successful stretch since their World Series days.

~Mike Campbell 1964 (Cubs 1996)
After stops in Seattle, Texas and San Diego, Campbell came to the Cubs in 1996 and had his best season in the big leagues. He went 3-1 with a 4.46 ERA. He went to Japan after that and developed shoulder problems. Campbell's claim to fame was being part of the trade that brought Randy Johnson to the Mariners. He and Mark Langston went to the Expos in exchange for the future 300 game winner.

~Scott Williamson 1976 (Cubs 2005-2006)
The former Rookie of the Year, All Star, and World Series champ was coming off arm problems when the Cubs took a flier on him in early 2005. He was supposed to be the team's closer, but Ryan Dempster took over that role instead, and Wililamson struggled to regain his velocity. The Cubs traded him the following season to the Padres.

~Cody Ransom 1976 (Cubs 2013)
He had played for the Giants, Astros, Yankees, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Brewers and Padres before he came to the Cubs in 2013. Cody was the very definition of the well-travelled journeyman. He had good few months in Chicago hitting nine homers in only 158 at bats, before slumping and being released just before the season ended.

A/V Club

Today's Cubs birthday boy Cody Ransom is almost more well known for this video (posted in 2009) than he is for baseball career. It's a 60 inch vertical jump...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 16

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Carl Lundgren 1880 (Cubs 1902-1909)
Lundgren pitched for three Cubs pennant winners (1906, 1907, & 1908). Even though he was a great pitcher, he never pitched in the World Series during those pennant winning seasons because there were even better pitchers on the team (like Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, and big Ed Reulbach). Lundgren was especially effective early in the season in cold weather, which led to his nickname "The Human Icicle." He won 17 games for the '06 pennant winners and 18 games for the '07 champs (with an unbelievable ERA of only 1.17 for the season), but slumped in '08 and managed to only win 6 games. After the next season his career was over.

Lundgren's teammates didn't just think of him of as their fifth or (sometimes) sixth starter. He was a shrewd baseball man; just as valuable on the bench as he was on the field. Lundgren later went on to succeed Branch Rickey as the baseball coach at the University of Michigan, before ending his career in his dream job, as the coach of his alma mater, the University of Illinois.

~Ed Schorr 1892 (Cubs 1915)
He only pitched in two games for the 1915 Cubs (in the last homestand of their final season at West Side Grounds), but one of them was in Grover Cleveland Alexander's 30th win of the season. Schorr pitched the final two innings in relief of Cubs starter Karl Adams.

~Ray Harrell 1912 (Cubs 1939)
The Cubs got Harrell in the off-season after their World Series loss to the Yankees, and had high hopes for him. Ray pitched horribly (8.31 ERA) however, so they included him in the trade that brought Claude Passeau to the Cubs. That turned out to be a great trade for Chicago as Passeau anchored their rotation for several years, including their 1945 pennant season.

~Don Eaddy 1934 (Cubs 1959)
Eaddy was a great athlete. He starred in three different sports at the University of Michigan (baseball, football, and basketball). The Cubs signed him just before he was drafted by Uncle Sam. Don had to serve in the Air Force for three years. When he finally returned to baseball, the Cubs brought him up to the big leagues to use him as a pinch runner. He got into fifteen games in that capacity, but only got into one game as a position player. On August 1, 1959, he came in to play third base. Two balls were hit to him and he made an error on one of them. He also got his only big league at bat in that game. He struck out. They never let him hit or field again.

~Don Landrum 1936 (Cubs 1962-1965)
Landrum was mostly a backup outfielder during his big league career, but he did get some extensive playing time with the Cubs in his final season with the club. Unfortunately, he only hit .226. But he served the Cubs well because he was included in a trade (along with Lindy McDaniel) that brought two important players to Chicago--Randy Hundley and Bill Hands. That remains one of the best trades the Cubs ever made.

~Bobby Darwin 1943 (Cubs 1977)
To say that Darwin was a free swinger is to understate the case. He led the AL in strikeouts three seasons in a row when he was with the Twins (1972-1974. His stay in Chicago was very short. In 1977 he got exactly twelve at bats.

~Mike Hubbard 1971 (Cubs 1995-1997)
Mike was the Cubs backup catcher behind Scott Servais for three seasons in the 90s. He also served as a backup for Montreal, Texas, and Atlanta.

~Barry Foote 1952 (Cubs 1979-1981)
Barry Foote hit sixteen home runs as the Cubs everyday catcher in 1979. Foote didn't have a great relationship with Cubs manager Herman Franks. When Franks (a World War II vet) resigned at the end of the 1979 season, he specifally called out Foote (along with Ted Sizemore, Bill Buckner, and Mike Vail) as a "whiner". The following year he became a part time catcher, and the season after that he was traded to the Yankees.

~Sergio Mitre 1981 (Cubs 2003-2005)
He was one of the better starting pitchers in the Cubs organization at a time when they had a stacked pitching rotation. Luckily for Sergio, the Cubs pitchers kept getting injured. He started 18 games over three seasons, and didn't have a tremendous amount of success, so the Cubs included him in the trade that landed Juan Pierre. Sergio stayed in the majors until 2011, and even pitched in the 2010 ALCS for the Yankees, but his lifetime record is 13-30.

~Eduardo Sanchez 1989 (Cubs 2013)
The young Venezuelan got a cup of coffee with the Cubs in 2013, but he had control problems in his limited appearances. They let him go at the end of the season, and he signed with Detroit.

A/V Club

Today's Cubs birthday boy Carl Lundrgen was part of the 1906 team that set the record for most victories in a season...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 15

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Nate Schierholtz 1984 (Cubs 2013-present)
Nate was one of the budget free agent signings by the Epstein/Hoyer regime. He won a ring with the 2010 Giants, but he was never really given a chance to be a fulltime player until he arrived in Chicago. In his first season with the Cubs he hit more than 20 homers and played a very strong right field. (PHOTO: 2014 Topps Baseball Card)

~Charlie Irwin 1869 (Colts 1893-1895)
The team was still known as the Colts when Charlie manned third base and shortstop for Chicago. In 1894 he had a great season with the bat (100 runs batted in), but he was also the worst infielder in all of baseball. That season he committed 91 (91!) errors. He later played for the Reds and Brooklyn during a pretty respectable 10-year big league career, and he settled in Chicago after his playing days were over. That's where he was hit by a bus and killed in 1925.

~Chuck Estrada 1938 (Cubs 1966)
He pitched for the Orioles for several seasons before coming to the Cubs, leading the American League in wins as an All-Star rookie in 1960, and in losses in 1962. He got one start with the Cubs in 1966 and didn't make it out of the first inning. His final Cubs ERA after pitching out of the bullpen the rest of the season was 7.30.

~Footer Johnson 1932 (Cubs 1958)
His real name was Richard Allen Johnson, but everyone called him Footer or Treads because he was fast. He was known for his speed in the minor leagues and at Duke University (he was there the same time as Dick Groat), but he didn't make much of an impact in his very short major league career. In 1958, Footer got a grand total of 5 at bats in 8 games (his other three appearances were as a pinch runner), but never got a hit. He did, however, score one run when he pinch ran for Cubs catcher Sammy Taylor during a double header on June 22nd. He was knocked in by another obscure Cub...future manager Chuck Tanner.

~Ron Cey 1948 (Cubs 1983-1986)
Ron Cey earned his nickname because of the way he waddled when he walked. One look at his stocky build, short legs, and choppy running style was all it took to see that "The Penguin" was a perfect nickname. Cey was one of the first "star" players (not affiliated with the Phillies) acquired by Dallas Green. He was a 6-time all-star and a World Series MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers. (The Cubs got him for Vance Lovelace and Dan Cataline, which has to qualify as a rare good trade.) When Cey joined the Cubs they offered him an incentive they've probably never offered since...a bonus for increased attendance. That little clause paid off nicely for the Penguin. Even though Cey was definitely on the downside of his career, he had a few good years left in him. He hit 25 HR and 97 RBI (which led the team) in the Cubs playoff year of '84. He also hit a home run in the '84 NLCS. Unfortunately, in that series another former Dodger stuck a dagger in the heart of Cub fans everywhere.

~Rolando Roomes 1962 (Cubs 1988)
Rolando was born and raised in Jamaica, and it took him quite awhile before he got his cup of coffee (16 at bats) with the 1988 Cubs. He was 26 years old at the time. The Cubs traded to the Reds for Lloyd McClendon after the season. While McClendon was an important part of the 1989 division winning Cubs, Roomes was out of baseball by 1990.

~Brian Williams 1969 (Cubs 2000)
Williams showed some promise early in his big league career with the Astros, finishing in the top ten in the Rookie of the Year voting that season, but the pitcher really struggled after that. The Cubs were desperate when they signed in January of 2000. It didn't work out. He pitched in 22 games and his ERA was a staggering 9.62. The Cubs released him at the end of May.

A/V Club

Birthday boy Nate Schierholtz makes a great catch...

Friday, February 14, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 14

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Ace Stewart 1869 (Colts 1895)
Ace was given that nickname because of his stellar play, his real first name was Asa, and Ace was just a shortened way of saying that. The Indiana native (Terre Haute) was a second baseman for Chicago in his only big league season, and was a bit of a butcher in the field. He made 52 errors. Even though he never made it back to the bigs, he did play professional baseball in the minor leagues until 1907. Oh, and he also had a tremendous mustache. (Photo: 1895 Colts. Ace is standing in the back row. Furthest mustache on the right)

~Mike Hechinger 1890 (Cubs 1912-1913)
He had a cup of coffee with his hometown Chicago Cubs at the tail end of the 1912 season and the beginning of 1913, but the backup catcher got only five at bats, and didn't manage to get a hit. He finished his career with Brooklyn.

~Uel Eubanks 1903 (Cubs 1922)
Uel's cup of coffee was both empty and full. In his one month on the Cubs, he pitched 1.2 innings and got exactly one at bat. In that one at bat, he got a hit, so his lifetime average is 1.000. But he was rocked hard on the mound. His final ERA is 27.00. Eubanks was in the minors for six seasons after his little nibble of the big leagues, but he never got another shot in the Show.

~Len Gabrielson 1940 (Cubs 1964-1965)
Gabrielson had one of the best seasons of his nine year career with the Cubs in 1964. After Lou Brock was traded in June of that season, Len became the team's starting right fielder. It was just a tiny bit of a downgrade for the Cubs. Brock hit .348 for the Cardinals (and led them to the World Series), and Gabrielson hit .246 for the Cubs (and led them to 8th place). Len's father (also named Len) was a big leaguer too. He played for the Phillies in 1939.

~Daniel Garibay 1973 (Cubs 2000)
Garibay was born and raised in Mexico, and didn't get his first shot at Major League Baseball until he was 27 years old. The Cubs used him as a spot starter and a reliever, and he didn't do well in eithe role. He went 2-8 with an ERA over 6.

A/V Club

The crowd goes crazy for Cubs outfielder Len Gabrielson in 1964. Oh wait...I think it might have been someone else appearing in Chicago the same year Len roamed right field for the Cubs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 13

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Bill Bradley 1878 (Orphans 1899-1900)
Chicago signed him as a shortstop, but he made eight errors in his first five games, so they moved him over to 3B. When his career ended 14 years later, he was considered one of the top third basemen in baseball history. He jumped to the American League in a contract dispute in 1901 (urged to do so by another ex-Chicago star Clark Griffith), and over the next three seasons he was in the top ten in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, triples, homers and slugging percentage. He was also the best fielding third baseman in the league. How much was the difference between the Cubs offer in 1901 and the offer from Cleveland? $3100. Doesn't sound like much, but it was 3/4 of his yearly salary.

~Gilly Campbell 1908 (Cubs 1933)
Gilly was a catcher, and had a cup of coffee as Gabby Hartnett's backup during the 1933 season. He hit .280 in that limited capacity, and helped handle a pitching staff that included big-time pitching stars like Lon Warneke, Guy Bush, Charlie Root, and Pat Malone (all of them double digit winners that year). The following season he was sold to Cincinnati. Gilly was a big leaguer until 1938.

~Donnie Moore 1954 (Cubs 1975, 1977-1979)
The Cubs traded him before he reached his prime. He became an all-star closer with the California Angels, but he also gave up the home run that knocked them out of the playoffs in 1986. That moment tormented him, and he was out of baseball just a few years later. The depressed Donnie took his own life in 1989.

~Matt Mieske 1968 (Cubs 1998)
He was a fourth outfielder for the Cubs in their wildcard winning season of 1998, and an important bat off the bench. He hit nearly .300 in that capacity. The Cubs let him go after the season and he palyed another four years (for Seattle, Houston & Arizona)

A/V Club

On this day in 1964, Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs passed away in a plane crash. This video tells part of that story...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 12

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Sweetbread Bailey 1895 (Cubs 1919-1921)
His real name is Abraham Lincoln Bailey because he shares a birthday with the famous president. What is the origin of his nickname? Well, "sweetbreads" is defined as "the thymus or, sometimes, the pancreas of a young animal (usually a calf or lamb) used for food," and though the origins of Bailey's nickname have been lost to time, historians think it may have come from Bailey's tendency to swerve his pitches right into the batter's "sweetbreads". He hit seven batters there. The Cubs signed him in 1917, but before he joined the team he served in the military with the 72nd field artillery. He was a reliever for the Cubs, winning four games and saving none. That was the extent of his big league career. After a few more seasons in the minors, he returned to his hometown of Joliet, and that's where he died of pituitary cancer in 1939 at the way too young age of 44.

~Bill Mack 1885 (Cubs 1908)
The college boy from Syracuse may have only pitched in two big league games (both for the Cubs), but he achieved something that most Cubs cannot claim to achieve. He was part of a Cubs World Series championship team.

~Virgil Cheeves 1901 (Cubs 1920-1923)
Cheeves was part-Cherokee, and in the politically incorrect 1920s, his teammates nicknamed him "Chief". To be fair, nearly every Native-American to ever play the game was given the same nickname. Virgil's best season was 1922 when we won 12 games and posted an ERA of 4.09.

~Monk Dubiel 1918 (Cubs 1949-1952)
After the 1948 season the Cubs decided they needed to boost their pitching staff, so they traded their popular first baseman Eddie Waitkus to the Phillies for two aging starting pitchers (Dutch Leonard and Monk Dubiel). Eddie Waitkus was shot by a deranged fan in his first trip back to Chicago. Monk won a total of 14 games in his four seasons with the Cubs.

~Joe Garagiola 1926 (Cubs 1953-1954)
He was a backup catcher for most of his nine-year big league career, and that's the role he served in Chicago. His big claim to fame with the Cubs was catching all nine innings of a game in what was at the time, the hottest day in Chicago history, June 20, 1953. Despite the 104 degree heat, 17,000+ fans came out to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs lose to the Dodgers 5-3. Of course, Joe became much more famous after his playing career as a sportscaster and television personality.

~Lenny Randle 1949 (Cubs 1980)
Lenny was known as the guy who had punched his manager (Frank Lucchesi) in the face when the Cubs acquired him. They knew they were taking a chance, but Randle had a pretty good season with an incredibly bad Cubs team in 1980. He signed with the Mariners as a free agent the following year, and that's where he did the other thing he is most remembered for doing--he got on his hands and knees and tried to blow a slow roller down the line into foul territory.

~Gene Krug 1955 (Cubs 1981)
To say the 29th round draft choice was a long shot to make it is an understatement, but Krug managed to defy the odds, and was called up to the show. His big league career consisted of exactly seven games in the 1981 (strike) season. He went 2 for 5 at the plate (both singles), giving him a lifetime big league average of .400.

`Jeff Pico 1966 (Cubs 1988-1990)
He pitched a shutout in his Major League debut, but won only 12 more games, all of them with the Cubs. He was a member of their 1989 division champion team.

A/V Club

Here is Joe as the host of the game show "To Tell The Truth", with the man who inspired the film "Catch Me If You Can"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 11

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Willie Smith 1939 (Cubs 1968-1970)
Willie's greatest day as a Cub happened on April 8, 1969. He hit a pinch-hit 2-run walk off home run to win the game on Opening Day. That began a year long love affair between the Cubs and their fans. On September 4, 1969, with the Cubs still holding onto a 5-game lead over the Mets, Willie and teammate Nate Oliver released a parody of the Righteous Brothers hit "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling". Unfortunately for Willie, Nate and Cubs nation, they weren't "going, going, going, all the way" like the song predicted.

~Red Shannon 1897 (Cubs 1926)
The bulk of Red's big league career was from 1915-1921, but he did re-emerge after five years in the minors to get in 60 more games with the Cubs in 1926. He was mainly a defensive replacement for the Cubs infielders that season.

~Hal Rice 1924 (Cubs 1954)
Hal's nickname was "Hoot" and he was an outfielder and pinch hitter for seven big league seasons, including his last one with the Cubs. He was probably best known as Stan Musial's backup in St. Louis, and as you might imagine, didn't get a lot of playing time in that capacity. The Cubs brought him aboard to pinch hit, but when you hit only .153, it's usually enough to end your career. That's what happened to "Hoot" in Chicago.

~Chris Kitsos 1928 (Cubs 1954)
Some players a cup of coffee in the show. Chris Kitsos only got a sip. He was a switch-hitting shortstop, but he languished in the minor leagues until April 21, 1954. On that day he finally got the call from the big club and was inserted as a defensive replacement for shortstop Eddie Miksis in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Braves in Milwaukee. Two of the Braves batters hit grounders to him, and he retired them both, including future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. But he didn't get a chance to bat in the top of the ninth inning, and he never appeared in another big league game.

~Tom Veryzer 1953 (Cubs 1983-1984)
In many ways Veryzer was the prototypical journeyman infielder, but he did have a few career highlights. He broke up a Ken Holtzman no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning, and was named to the All-Rookie team as a Detroit Tiger in 1975. With the Cubs he was a backup to both Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa during their ill-fated 1984 season. He made the post-season roster and got into a few of the games as a late-game defensive replacement. That was his last hurrah in the big leagues.

~Dave Swartzbaugh 1968 (Cubs 1995-1997)
The Cubs used him as a spot starter his last two seasons, but it didn't turn out so well. He started seven games and didn't win a single one of them.

A/V Club

Willie Smith and Nate Oliver sing about the Cubs

Monday, February 10, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 10

Today's Cubs Birthdays

-Randy Jackson 1926 (Cubs 1950-1955, 1959)
His real first name was Ransom, and gosh darnit, he was kind of handsome, so his teammates began calling him Handsome Ransom (His teammates thought he looked like Gregory Peck). "Handsome Ransom" Jackson was one of the best players on the Cubs in the early 50s; a National League all-star third-baseman in 1954 and 1955. He hit 19, 19, and 21 homers in 1953-55 (his three seasons on the Cubs), and was a pretty good fielder too. (In 1955 he led NL third basemen in double plays.) His greatest day in a Cubs uniform was April 17, 1954 against St. Louis. Jackson had four hits - including a home run that hit an apartment building on Waveland Avenue. With the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field, the Cubs beat the Cardinals 23–13 in a National League record (at the time) three hour and 43 minute game. The two teams combined for 35 hits — including five homers. The Dodgers traded Walt Moryn, Don Hoak, and Russ Meyer to the Cubs for Jackson and pitcher Don Elston after the 1955 season with the expectation that the slugger would succeed Jackie Robinson at third base. Unfortunately for Jackson and the Dodgers, he suffered a serious knee injury in 1957, and Handsome Ransom never played regularly again. (Photo: 1952 Topps Baseball Card)

~Bob Logan 1910 (Cubs 1937-1938)
Bob Logan was a pitcher with a bit of a wild streak. He walked 17 batters in 22 innings. He also pitched briefly with Detroit, Cincinnati, and Brooklyn, but during the war he got his one extended shot with the Boston Braves. After not starting a single game in his previous big league career, he went 7-11 as a member of Boston's rotation. Logan was a left-handed pitcher, so naturally, his nickname was Lefty.

~Cesar Izturis 1980 (Cubs 2006-2007)
He will always be remembered by Cubs fans as the player the Cubs got in return for Greg Maddux. Cesar was a slick-fielding shortstop, but his stay in Chicago was a relatively short and unhappy one. All told he was with the Cubs for about one calendar year before they shipped him off to Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, Izturis has enjoyed a long and productive big league career. He has played for nine different teams in 13 seasons, and has been an All-Star and Gold-Glove winner.

A/V Club

On this day in 1950, the proprietor of the Pump Room, Ernie Byfeld passed away. The Pump Room opened just before the World Series of 1938, and was THE hot spot in Chicago. Here's Cubs fan Tom Dreesen being interviewed at that famous restaurant...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 9

~Heinie Zimmerman 1887 (Cubs 1907-1916)
Heinie saw some of the biggest moments in Cubs history, including both of their World Series championships, their last ever game at West Side Grounds, and their first ever game at Weeghman Park (now known as Wrigley Field). He was a great hitter--he nearly won the Triple Crown in 1912--but he was a butcher in the field (making four errors in a game several times) and a trouble maker in the clubhouse. In 1908 he threw bottle of ammonia at a teammate's face (Jimmy Sheckard), and nearly blinded him. He was suspected of being a game fixer later in his career (in New York), and was kicked off the team. He later worked in a speakeasy with the notorious gangster Dutch Schultz. (Photo: 1914 Cracker Jack Baseball Card)

~C.L. "Chink" Taylor 1898 (Cubs 1925)
Chink was a speedy little outfielder who was used primarily as a pinch runner by the Cubs during the first month of the 1925 season. He only got into eight games during that time, and was sent down to the minors in May. He never made it back to the big leagues.

~Freddy Schmidt 1916 (Cubs 1947)
He came up to the big leagues during the war, and pitched in the 1944 all St. Louis World Series (Browns vs. Cardinals), but when the regular players came back from the service, Freddy had a much tougher time making rosters. His last stop in the big leagues was with the Chicago Cubs. He started exactly one game, on September 24, 1947 in Cincinnati's Crosley Field, and was roughed up pretty badly by the Reds. He gave up four hits and five walks in only three innings pitched. The Cubs lost the game 6-5, but Freddy wasn't charged with the loss. Cubs reliever Emil Kush threw exactly one pitch that game, and it was knocked over the fence in the bottom of the ninth by Grady Hatton for a walk-off home run.

~Eddie Solomon 1951 (Cubs 1975)
The Cubs traded stud pitcher Burt Hooton to the Dodgers to get Eddie, but they found out pretty quickly that he wasn't their type of guy. He was considered a bad apple by Cubs management, and they didn't waste any time getting rid of him. Eddie was with the Cubs for only two months, but he did manage to pitch in the big leagues until 1982 with the Cardinals, Braves, Pirates, and White Sox. Just four years after his last big league game, he died in a car accident in Macon Georgia at the age of 34.

~Todd Pratt 1967 (Cubs 1995)
Pratt was a catcher in the National League for fourteen seasons, but he couldn't have picked a worse one to be with the Cubs. The summer of 1995 is still considered the hottest summer in Chicago history. On July 13th and 14th, the two hottest days in the city's hottest summer (106 degrees and 102 degrees), Todd Pratt caught all nine innings of both games. The second one was a day game. The Cubs lost both games.

~Dioner Navarro 1984 (Cubs 2013)
He only played one season with the Cubs as their backup catcher, but Navarro hit several dramatic game winning home runs, and provided the only pop off the bench that season for the Cubs.

A/V Club

On this day in 1920, the spitball was outlawed by Major League Baseball. Pitchers that currently threw one were grandfathered in, but no new big leaguer would be allowed to throw one. The last one to do it legally was Cubs pitcher (and Hall of Famer) Burleigh Grimes.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

JOBC Cubs Alamanac--February 8

Today's Cubs Birthdays

~Steve Dillard 1951 (Cubs 1979-1981)
Dillard may have only been a backup infielder for the Cubs from 1979-1981, and he may have only hit .225 and .218 in two of those years, but Steve Dillard's mustache didn't take a back seat to anyone. He once pulled the hidden ball trick by hiding it in his mustache. Not really, but he could have. His mustache was that spectacular.

~Felix Pie 1985 (Cubs 2007-2008)
He was supposed to be the next big star in Chicago, a five tool outfielder with dazzling talent. Like Corey Patterson before him, Pie never quite put it together. They handed him in the starting center field job in 2008, but he lost it by May. The Cubs signed Jim Edmonds and sent Felix back to the minors. One thing many male Cubs fans will never forget about him is an injury he suffered during his time with the Cubs. It was called "testicular torsion" or twisted testicle. Some of us still have nightmares. The Cubs traded Felix to the Orioles in 2009.

A/V Club

Video highlights of Felix Pie's career...

Friday, February 7, 2014

RIP Ralph Kiner

Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner passed away yesterday. He was 91 years old. The New York Times has a wonderful obit.

A few teams can lay claim to the great slugger. He wears a Pirates cap in the Hall of Fame. He was the broadcaster for the New York Mets for many years.

But he was also a Cub.

He was one of the most feared sluggers in the league when he played for the Pirates, but by the time the Cubs got him (1953), he was not the same player. He led the league in home runs all seven seasons with the Pirates, and though he did have a decent power season with the Cubs in 1953 (making the all-star team), he was so slow by then, he could barely field his position.

Combined with the equally slow Hank Sauer in right, the Cubs outfield during those two seasons might have been the worst fielding outfield the Cubs ever had. Kiner joked that both he and Sauer used to scream "You got it, Frankie" every time the ball was hit in the air. Frankie Baumholtz was the centerfielder on that team.

After the 1954 season Kiner was traded to the Indians for Sam Jones, who went on to pitch a no-hitter for the Cubs in 1955.

Ralph lived a nice long life. What was the secret to his 91 years? It might have been his Wheaties...

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 7

Burt Hooton 1950 (Cubs 1971-1975)
Hooton got off to an incredible start in his big league career. He came up at the end of the 1971 season and had three tremendous starts (2-0, two complete games, one shutout, 22 Ks in 21 innings). In fact, he was so good, the Cubs felt they could afford to trade Ken Holtzman in the offseason. It sure looked good early when Hooton used his incredible knuckle-curve to pitch a no-hitter in his fourth career start. In fact, he pitched well the entire 1972 season, despite going only 11-14. (Photo: Burt Hooton 1973 Topps Baseball Card)

But Hooton slumped a bit in 1973 and 1974, and in the early part of 1975, the Cubs shipped him off to the Dodgers for Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon. That turned out to be a terrible trade for Chicago. Hooton was still young and only needed a little guidance, something he got in Los Angeles. He won 18 games for the Dodgers that year, went on to pitch another eleven seasons, became an All-Star, a World Series champ, and a runner-up for the Cy Young Award. Don't ask what the players the Cubs got in return for him did.

Here's a little bit of Burt Hooton Cubs trivia. On the day Elvis Presley performed at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago in 1972, Hooton pitched a shutout against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.

Ted Kennedy 1865 (White Stockings 1885)
He was signed by Chicago in June of 1885 because they were down to one pitcher (John Clarkson) and Kennedy had been doing some incredible things on a team in Keokuk. He pitched nine games for Chicago (and won 7 of them), but developed an arm injury, and was released in September.

Tom Daly 1866 (White Stockings 1887-1888)
His nickname was Tido, and he was a utility man during his time in Chicago, playing every position on the field except pitcher and third base. He managed to parlay that utility role into a 17-season big league career. His brother Joe also played.

Pat Moran 1876 (Cubs 1906-1909)
Moran was a member of the last two championship teams, the 1907 & 1908 Cubs, as their backup catcher. He later managed in the big leagues, and led the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series championship in 1919. It's not Moran's fault that the Reds' opponent, the Chicago Black Sox, threw the series.

Earl Whitehill 1899 (Cubs 1939)
Whitehill won more than 200 games in the big leagues, but only four of those came for the Cubs, in his last big league season. He holds the record for the worst ERA of any 200-game winner in history (4.36). Earl's career really spans a few different eras. Early in his career, the player/manager of his Tigers team was Ty Cobb. Ten years later, he almost ended Lou Gehrig's Iron Man streak when he beaned him on April 23, 1933, knocking him unconscious. Gehrig finished the game. By the time he joined the Cubs he was 40 years old.

Dummy Lynch 1926 (Cubs 1948)
Dummy Lynch was a war hero--a paratrooper in World War II. He only got a few at-bats on that very bad 1948 Cubs team, but in his very first big league game, he hit a homer against future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. That makes Lynch one of only 26 players since 1908 to hit a homer in his first career game, and never hit another one in his career. Despite the less than flattering nickname, Lynch was no dummy. After his baseball career, he became a practicing attorney in Texas.

Juan Pizarro 1937 (Cubs 1970-1973)
He was a two-time All-Star for the White Sox (1963-1964), and came to the Cubs from the Angels in the middle of the 1970 season. Pizarro had periods of brilliance with the Cubs, and often those happened when Tom Seaver was on the mound for the Mets. In September of 1971 he shut out the Mets in Shea Stadium 1-0, and the one run came off the bat of Juan himself, a solo homer against Seaver. But those moments didn't happen too often. Pizarro was never really more than a spot-starter for the Cubs during his time with them, and never won more than seven games in a season.

Ben Christensen 1978 (Cubs minor leaguer)
The Cubs were coming off a playoff season in 1998, and were off to a good start in 1999, when the wheels suddenly came off the bus. Is it possible that this was some sort of karmic punishment from above? Ordinarily we would say that’s ridiculous. But on June 2, 1999, with the Cubs firmly entrenched in first place, seemingly on their way to a repeat playoff run, the Cubs drafted a pitcher out of Wichita State named Ben Christensen, probably the most controversial draft pick in Cubs history. Why was it so controversial? Ben Christensen had just been suspended for the season by the NCAA for an act so egregious, that it shocked the nation. He was warming up on the mound and felt that the batter in the on-deck circle was timing his pitches. This is, for some reason, considered bad baseball etiquette. So, Ben did what anyone would have done in the same situation. He fired one of his 90-plus mile an hour fastballs directly at the head of the the on-deck circle. He hit him flush, and severely injured him. The player he hit was never able to play baseball again because of severe vision issues that arose from the incident. Now, it’s true that Ben was considered a stud pitcher at the time, and had been pegged to go at the very top of the draft. And it’s also true that the Cubs were picking low in the first round because they were coming off a playoff season. But there was a good reason every team passed on Ben. He was nitroglycerin. The Cubs received a lot more than bad publicity from the incident. The team immediately fell apart on the field, and Beanball Ben, as the fans called him, never made it to the big leagues.

Jon Leicester 1979 (Cubs 2004-2005)
He was a right-handed reliever for the Cubs for a few seasons during the Dusty Baker era. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2007 (for the Orioles).

Scott Feldman 1983 (Cubs 2013)
Feldman was one of the "flip-able" players brought in during the Epstein regime to garner prospects in return, and it worked like a charm. He was traded to the Orioles in July 2013, in exchange for pitchers Jake Arietta and Pedro Strop. Feldman has the distinction of having the most wins in a season by a Jewish pitcher (17 in 2009) since Steve Stone in 1980.

A/V Club

Slow motion mechanics of Scott Feldman

Scott Feldman 1983

Thursday, February 6, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 6

Today's Cubs Birthdays...

~Smoky Burgess 1927 (Cubs 1949-1951)
His real name was Forrest Harrill Burgess, but no-one called him that. He was Smoky Burgess, a five-time National League All-Star. He was a very good catcher, but he became even better known as one of the best pinch hitters of his era. He retired with a record 507 pinch at-bats. Only Manny Mota has more than Burgess's 145 pinch hits. Unfortunately, none of that happened with the Cubs because they traded him after his second season in the majors (1951) for little remembered Johnny Pramesa and Bob Usher. If he had stayed with the Cubs, he could have been their starting catcher for a decade. (Pramesa played 22 games for the Cubs, Usher played 1.) Smoky always said that his most satisfying pinch hit was his home run off Cubs pitcher Sam Jones with two games left in the 1956 season. The Reds, his team at the time, were going for the record--most home runs by a team in a season. The record was 221, and when Smokey came up to bat, the Reds had 220. Reds manager Chuck Dressen ordered Burgess to pinch hit for Roy McMillan, and said, "Make it a home run - or nothin'!" The ball landed on Sheffield Avenue. Smoky ended his career as a pinch hitter for the White Sox—and played until he was 40 years old. (Photo: 1951 Bowman baseball card)

~Ronald Reagan 1911 (Cubs fan 1911-2004)
Reagan didn't just grow up a Chicago Cubs fan. He owes much of his success to the team. He became a Cubs radio broadcaster, was sent to California to cover the team, took a screen test while he was out there, and became a movie star, which led to his political career. As the president, he returned to Wrigley Field in 1988 to throw out the first pitch. Straight line...Cubs to Cubs.

~Dale Long 1926 (Cubs 1957-1959)
Dale Long had a pretty good career as a Cubs first baseman, but one game is probably remembered more than any other. On August 20, 1958, Cubs catcher Moe Thacker was in the hospital. The Cubs started that game with only two catchers on the roster; Cal Neeman and Sammy Taylor. Taylor was pinch hit for, and Neeman came in to take his place. But Neeman was ejected from the game...meaning the Cubs didn’t have a catcher in uniform to take his place. So, Cubs manager Bob Scheffing sent the ever-reliable Dale Long in to take over. When he entered the game he became the first left-handed catcher in baseball in more than 50 years. (The last before that was in 1906). He did it again a month later on September 11, 1958. There wasn't another left-handed catcher until 1980 (Mike Squires with the White Sox in a similar emergency role). Benny DiStefano of the Pittsburgh Pirates also did it in 1989. That makes it a grand total of three men in more than one hundred years of Major League baseball; and Dale Long of the Chicago Cubs is the charter member of that exclusive club.

~Walt Huntzinger 1899 (Cubs 1926)
His nickname was "Shakes" and pitched for the Cubs at the end of the 1926 season. He pitched very well out of the bullpen, but after the season was over, he went back to the minor leagues and never returned to the big leagues.

~Travis Wood 1987 (Cubs 2012-present)
The Cubs got Wood in the Sean Marshall trade, and he has become one of their most reliable starters. In 2013, he started the season with nine quality starts, becoming the first pitcher since Three Finger Mordecai Brown in 1906. His greatest day as a Cub probably came when he hit a grand slam homer against the arch-rival White Sox. He was named to his first All-Star game just a few days later.

A/V Club

Reagan visits Chicago, and WBBM News Radio covers it (1988)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--February 5

Cubs Birthdays

~Max Flack 1890 (Cubs 1916-1922)
Max has the distinction of playing in the very first game in Weeghman Park history as a member of the Chi-Feds, and then playing in the very first game the Cubs played in the same ballpark (as a Cub). He was their star right fielder during that time. During their pennant winning season of 1918, he led the league's outfielders in fielding percentage, put-outs, double plays, and assists. He also, unfortunately, dropped an easy fly ball in the 1918 World Series. The Cubs were leading the game 1-0 at the time, and the dropped flyball allowed the Red Sox to score two runs and win the game 2-1. Whenever someone accuses the Cubs of throwing that series (entire books have been written on the subject), this is one of those plays that is discussed. In 1922, Max was traded to the Cardinals for Cliff Heathcote in the middle of a double header. The two men just changed uniforms and dugouts.

~Harry Smith 1856 (White Stockings 1877)
Harry got into only 24 games with Chicago in their second National League season, before moving on mid-season to play with Cincinnati. He played second base, center field, and catcher in the era before players wore gloves. Among his teammates in Chicago were Hall of Famers Al Spalding and Cap Anson. He died before the turn of the century (in 1898) at the way too young age of 42.

~Dewey Williams 1916 (Cubs 1944-1948)
He was a member of the last pennant winning Cubs team (1945) as the backup catcher, and even played in two of the 1945 World Series games. He struck out as a pinch hitter in Game 5 at Wrigley Field, and came in to catch in extra innings during Game 6, the last World Series game the Cubs won. (For more about Dewey, check out "This Week in 1945").

~Don Hoak 1928 (Cubs 1956)
He was a Marine, and a boxer before he came to baseball, so it's no wonder his teammates called him Tiger. Before he made it to the big leagues, Hoak played in Cuba for a part of a season and faced future dictator Fidel Castro in a game. He was a World Series champ with the Dodgers in 1955, and shared third base with an aging Jackie Robinson that season, so the Cubs were excited to get him (along with Russ Meyer and Walt Moryn) a few weeks after the series ended. Unfortunately, he had a terrible season in Chicago in 1956. In over 400 at bats, he hit only .215, so the Cubs got rid of him. Of course, after he left the Cubs, he immediately became an All-Star (in 1957). Then, in 1960, he finished 2nd in the MVP voting and led the Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series championship. Hoak died of a heart attack while chasing his brother-in-law's stolen car. He was only 42 years old.

~Lee Thomas 1936 (Cubs 1966-1967)
Thomas was a backup outfielder/first baseman for the Cubs toward the end of his playing career. One of his claims to fame came in 1966 when he knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat the Astros. While the Cubs were playing at Wrigley Field that afternoon, John Lennon was holding a press conference at the Astor Hotel in downtown Chicago, apologizing for his famous "we're more popular than Jesus" remark. Thomas retired after the following season and went into management. He was one of the architects of the Whitey Herzog-era Cardinals in the 80s, and then became the GM of the Phillies and led them to the 1993 World Series. The ex-Cub GM watched his ex-Cub closer Mitch Williams give up the walk-off series-ending home run to the ex-Cub outfielder Joe Carter.

~Roberto Rodriguez 1941 (Cubs 1970)
The Venezuelan was one of the relievers in a very shaky Cubs bullpen in 1970. He saved two games for the Cubs, but he was routinely rocked. His final ERA for the season was 5.82. The Cubs tried to convert him into a starter in the minors the next season, and he stayed in their system for the next four years. He never made it back to the big leagues.

A/V Club

Former Cub Don Hoak in the 1960 World Series (playing for Pittsburgh)...