Tuesday, January 28, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 28

Today's Featured Cub: Alex Distaso

On this day in 1967, the Chicago Cubs had the first pick in the amateur draft. Most of the teams in the league agreed the top two picks were outfielder Ken Singleton and catcher Carlton Fisk. The Cubs disagreed with most teams.

They chose a pitcher instead; an 18-year-old high schooler from California. His name was Al Distaso. The Cubs considered him the second coming of Don Drysdale. He didn't have Drysdale's size or fastball, but he did resemble him physically. And at first, he showed some promise. In his first two minor league seasons he struck out 225 in just over 300 innings.

But he also hurt his elbow, and by the time spring training rolled around in 1969, he wasn't the same pitcher. Leo Durocher took a chance he could rediscover the magic, and named him the 10th man on the pitching staff going into the season. Al debuted on April 20th against the Expos and pitched two scoreless innings.

He came in again on April 22nd, but this time he wasn't facing the Expos. He was facing the fearsome Pittsburgh Pirates. Richie Hebner, Matty Alou, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell all got hits against Al in what turned out to be his final major league appearance.

He was sent down to the minors after that and never returned.

But Al found a higher calling after leaving baseball for good in 1970. He became a police officer; a decorated homicide detective in the roughest neighborhood of Los Angeles. Al retired from the force in 1994, and as a gift for the other guys in his unit, he presented all of them with a copy of his 1969 Cubs Rookie card.

Al Distaso passed away in 2009.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: 1969 Rookie Stars

(Topps 1969 Baseball Card)

The one pictured on the far left is Alec Distaso.

On the back of this baseball card they list Alec's minor league lifetime totals (up until that point), which read this way: 59 games, 306 innings pitched, 19 wins, 19 losses, 225 strikeouts, 173 walks, and an ERA of 3.76.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Bob Muncrief 1916 (Cubs 1949)
When the Cubs acquired Muncrief in 1949, he had already pitched in an All-Star Game (1944) and two World Series (1944 with the St. Louis Browns and 1948 with the Cleveland Indians). With the Cubs he didn't do much. He went 5-6 in 34 games out of the bullpen. He later pitched for the Yankees in their 1951 World Series season.

A/V Club
Future Cub Bob Muncrief pitched in the 1948 World Series, but there were several other Cubs-ties to that team. The owner of the team was former Cubs treasurer Bill Veeck Jr. The shortstop and manager was future Cubs manager and announcer Lou Boudreau. This video has some fun tidbits of information about that team. They haven't won the World Series since. I know it's a little hard for us Cub fans to understand that kind of long drought.