Sunday, January 26, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 26

Today's Featured Cub: William Wrigley

On this day in 1932, Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr. passed away. It was a great loss for the Cubs, not only because Wrigley was a savvy businessman. He was also the last owner before Tom Ricketts that LOVED baseball. This is William Wrigley in his own words, in Time Magazine in 1930...
"Outside of school hours, when I was a boy in Philadelphia, I worked for my father. This seemed to me a cruel conspiracy of the fates. He was a kind man, but he belonged to a generation which was work-minded. Baseball was nothing to him. My work took me directly past the ball park of the Nationals (the Phillies). That was the trouble! I hadn’t a chance in the world to get away to the ball game on any of the familiar alibis. The near relatives of my boy friends were buried regularly on ball game days. No use to tell my employer of the imaginary funeral in my family, for he was my father and had the death statistics of the family down to the minute. No other excuses worked. Whenever I came to the ball park and heard the wild cheering within, I was in a state of rebellion. One day when the cheering was particularly wild in the park, I resolved that one day I would own a ball team and a ball park. My interest in the game has never relaxed for one instant from that moment to this.”

On his deathbed, William Wrigley made his son Phillip promise never to sell the team. Even though Phillip didn't much care about baseball, he honored his father's wish, and held on to the Cubs until his own death in 1977.

Under the son, the Cubs atrophied and became the worst team in baseball, but they still played, and continue to play in the stadium that is named after his father; baseball lover William Wrigley.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Kevin Blankenship

(1989 Donruss Baseball Card)

Blankenship was acquired in the trade that sent fan favorite Jody Davis packing in 1988. He pitched a total of 23 innings over three seasons with the Cubs. He never had the impact of Davis, but Jody couldn't have grown that mustache if he tried. Blankenship was a member of the division winning 1989 Cubs, although he only pitched 5 1/3 innings for them that season.

The stats on the back of this card are from his 1988 season: 1 win, 1 loss, 3 games, 15 innings pitched, 14 hits allowed, 9 strikeouts, 8 walks, and a 4.60 ERA.

Nickname of the Day:

Rip Russell was born on this day in 1915. He real first name was Glen, but Rip Russell was known for being able to rip line drives. He also came to the Cubs just after another first baseman named Rip Collins played for the team, so it was only natural that his teammates started calling him Rip.

Russell played for the Cubs for four seasons, but his best season was definitely his rookie year of 1939. Filling in for the injured Phil Cavarretta on the defending NL champs, Rip knocked in 79 runs, good enough for second best on the team. He spent the rest of career as a bench player, first with the Cubs in 1940-42, then after a stint in the military, with the Boston Red Sox in 1946 and 1947.

Rip died in 1961. R.I.P. Rip.

A/V Club
In honor of Kevin Blankenship we feature this great video from WGN-TV. It's a package of Cubs highlights from that season put to the tune of Freiheit's "Keeping the Dream Alive" and it's very well done.