Tuesday, January 21, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 21

Today's Featured Cubs Announcer: Lew Fonseca

On this day in 1899, Lew Fonseca was born. Fonseca went on to become a major league player and manager. In 12 big league seasons he played first base, second base and left field for the Reds, Phillies, Indians, and White Sox. As a manager, he led the White Sox to one of their worst seasons of all time in 1932. They finished that year 49-102.

After his playing/managing career ended, he settled in Chicago and became one of the early radio announcers for the Chicago Cubs.

Listen for his play-by-play in this montage of very early Cubs announcers.

Lew Fonseca is buried in the same cemetery (All Saints in Des Plaines) as another famous Cubs announcer, Harry Caray.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Dave Smith

(Topps 1992 Baseball Card)

Dave Smith was born on this day in 1955. He was a great relief pitcher for the Houston Astros for ten years. He was a two-time all-star, and is second on the all-time Astros team save list. He came to the Cubs at the end of his career, and quickly developed arm problems. He struggled through two seasons for the Cubs 1991-1992, before retiring.

When Smith died unexpectedly in 2008 at the age of 53, it hit his ex-teammates hard. “He was probably one of the most giving people I ever met,” former Astros reliever Charlie Kerfeld told the Houston Chronicle. “He was probably known around the league as the best tipper around the league. (The news of his death) is a tough one. You ain’t supposed to go this early.”

The stats on the back of this card are from the 1991 season: 35 games, 33 innings pitched, 39 hits allowed, 19 walks, 16 strikeouts, 17 saves, and an ERA of 6.00.

Nickname of the Day: The Polish Prince

Mike Krukow shares a nickname with singer Bobby Vinton, but Mike Krukow was not known for botching the National Anthem. He was known for his stellar career as a starting pitcher for the Cubs, the Phillies and the Giants. He never quite managed to harness his wild streak while he was a Cub, so they traded him to the Phillies as part of the deal that brought Keith Moreland to the Cubs. Krukow didn't really flourish until joining the Giants. He put it all together in the 1986 season, winning 20 games. He also pitched in the NLCS for the Giants the following year, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in his only start. After retirement The Polish Prince became a broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants, and he remains in that job today. He's known for his quick wit, his rascally sense of humor, and his unique lexicon.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Alan Benes 1972 (Cubs 2002-03)
His brother Andy was already a star MLB pitcher when Alan came to the big leagues. Alan had a few good years with the Cardinals before hurting his arm. He was never quite the same after that, including his two seasons with the Cubs.

A/V Club
In 1979, Mike Krukow won a game at Wrigley Field, and he also punched out the opposing pitcher on the Phillies. All of that is captured in this local NBC sports report from that day...