Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 15

Today's Featured Cub: Rod Beck

On this day in 1998, the Cubs signed free agent closer Rod Beck. They called him "The Shooter" because he was like a gunslinger out there, and he didn't waste any of his bullets. Rod Beck was the Cubs closer during that wild card season of 1998, saving 51 games in truly scary fashion. His fastball was in the mid-80s at the very best—but he somehow still got the outs. Without him, the Cubs wouldn't have made the playoffs that year.

Chicago fans embraced him and his blue collar attitude. But after more arm problems the following year, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. He managed to stay in the majors until 2004, and had a few more good seasons in Boston and San Diego, but he died tragically in 2007 from an apparent drug overdose.

Rod Beck was only 38 years old.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Delino DeShields

(2002 Fleer Baseball Card)

Delino DeShields had a very respectable big league career. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting with the Expos in 1990, and had two great years with Montreal after that. They were so good, in fact, the Dodgers traded Pedro Martinez to get him. Whoops. By the time Delino came to the Cubs, he was at the end of his career. He played for them in 2001 and 2002.

Despite what this card says, Delino was primarily a second baseman. His 2001 stats are on the back of this card, and are as follows for Bal/Chi: 351 at bats, 55 runs, 82 hits, 17 doubles, 5 triples, 5 homers, 37 RBI, 23 stolen bases, and a .234 batting average.

(His son Delino Jr. was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2010 as the 8th overall pick)

From the Pages of History: Martin Luther King Jr.

On this day in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Georgia. When the great civil rights leader was killed in 1968, the Cubs were preparing to travel to Cincinnati for opening day. The game was postponed so that it didn't conflict with the national day of mourning declared by President Johnson.

Nickname of the Day: Slim

When your real name is a mouthful like Grover Cleveland Lowdermilk, you're bound to get tagged with a nickname. He was tall (6'4") and lanky (190 lbs), so his Cubs teammates dubbed him "Slim". Slim was born on this day in 1885 just a few months before President Cleveland officially took office. He played for the Cubs in 1912, but didn't fare so well. His ERA was 9.69. He was later a member of the 1919 Black Sox (but wasn't implicated in their cheating).

Cup of Coffee

William Brennan was born on this day in 1963. Obviously he's not the movie, television, and recording star from a bygone age, he's a pitcher. In 1993 he got a cup of coffe with the Cubs, and pitched respectably in his eight appearances. Trouble was, he was already 30 years old. His appearance on October 2, 1993 was his final one in the big leagues. He pitched two innings against the Padres and gave up a homer to Melvin Nieves.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Jock Menefee 1868 (Orphans/Cubs 1900-1903)
Jock was a pitcher for the Cubs, and is the last National League pitcher to ever pull off a successful steal of home.

~Dick Culler 1915 (Cubs 1948)
He was a slick fielding infielder for eight big league seasons, but just one with the Cubs. He was primarily a backup in Chicago; his second-to-last season in the bigs. (His full profile is here at the Baseball Biography Project)

~Ray King 1974 (Cubs 1999)
King got his start with the Cubs, but pitched another nine years after he left them. In 593 career appearances he never started a game.

A/V Club
Rod Beck's 50th save of 1998 was as scary as the 49 that came before them...