Saturday, January 11, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 11

Today's Featured Cub: William Walker

On this day in 1933, the Cubs were rudderless. Team president William Veeck had just died only months after team owner William Wrigley had died, and new owner Phillip K. Wrigley didn't know anything about baseball.

So, he turned to one of the minority owners of the team, William Walker, and named him President of the Cubs. The outspoken Walker hadn't been allowed to contribute to any baseball decisions during the Wrigley/Veeck era, and was chomping at the bit to take over. Why hadn't Veeck or the elder Wrigley listened to Walker? For a very good reason. He also didn't know anything about baseball. Walker was the owner of a wholesale seafood business.

He didn't last the year.

It didn't take long for word to get out that the Cubs had a neophyte running their organization. One of his first trades is still known as one the worst trades in Cubs history. He traded slugger Dolph Camilli to the Phillies for Don Hurst. Camilli went on to hit over 200 home runs, made two all-star teams, and led the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers to the World Series. He won the MVP that year too.

Don Hurst, on the other hand, hit .199 and retired after the season. Walker was such a terrible team president that PK Wrigley was forced to buy him out just to get him to stop destroying the team. The man who succeeded Walker as team president, however, remains the worst team president in Cubs history.

PK Wrigley himself.

He remained in the job until the year he died (1977).

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Lloyd McClendon

(Topps 1990 Baseball Card)

Lloyd McClendon came up as a catcher, but he didn't play there much for the Cubs (only 5 games). During the 1989 season he platooned with Dwight Smith in left field, playing mostly against left-handed pitchers. He even started one game of the 1989 NLCS against the Giants, going 2 for 3. McClendon was traded to the Pirates at the end of the 1990 season.

His stats on the back of this card cover the 1989 season, his best in the big leagues: 259 at bats, 74 hits, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 12 homers, 40 RBI, and a .286 average.

Nickname of the Day: The Pope

Don Pall was born on this day in 1962 on the south side of Chicago. He grew up a Sox fan and pitched for them too, but he also pitched across town for the Cubs in 1994. His teammates called him "The Pope".

Cup of Coffee

Paddy Driscoll is a football hall of famer, but he also got a cup of coffe in Major League Baseball thanks to the Cubs. In 1917, the team's second season at what is now known as Wrigley, he played in 13 games and got 32 at bats. Unfortunately, he only managed three hits. Among the games he played in was the famous double no-hitter on May 2, 1917, featuring Hippo Vaughn and Fred Toney.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Harry McIntire 1879 (Cubs 1910-1912)
Harry pitched for the pennant winning 1910 Cubs. He won 13 games that year, but ended his career 46 games under .500.

~Roy Hughes 1911 (Cubs 1944-1945)
Roy was a member of the last pennant winning team in Cubs history and got some playing time in the 1945 World Series.

~Jack Curtis 1937 (Cubs 1961-1962)
He was in the Cubs starting rotation in 1961 but was hit pretty hard; giving up 23 homers and finishing with 4.89 ERA. They traded him to Milwaukee for Bob Buhl in 1962.

~Rey Ordonez 1971 (Cubs 2004)
He was a slick fielding shortstop who never did quite master the trick of hitting big league pitching. The Cubs were the last team to give him a chance and he hit .164.

A/V Club
Former Cub Paddy Driscoll was the head coach of the 1956 Chicago Bears team who played in the championship game against the Giants. The highlights have been preserved nicely in this newsreel film...

Friday, January 10, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 10

Today's Featured Cub: Donnie Moore

On this day in 1973 the Cubs picked a young pitcher named Donnie Moore in the first round. Moore pitched parts of four seasons in Chicago and was beginning to show some promise when they traded him away for a middle infielder named Mike Tyson.

In typical Cubs fashion, Tyson didn't do much, while Moore became an all-star closer for the Angels.

Unfortunately, the Donnie Moore story has a very tragic ending. He was haunted by a home run he gave up in the 1986 ALCS, and just a year after the Angels released him, he took his own life at the age of 35.

This is the LA Times obituary, printed the day after his death.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Donnie Moore

(1979 Topps Baseball Card)

This card shows his stats from the 1978 season, probably his best as a Cub. They read as follows: 9 wins, 7 losses, 71 games, 102.2 innings pitched, 50 strikeouts, 31 walks, 117 hits allowed, and an ERA of 4.12.

Nickname of the Day: Lefty

Needless to say, Cliff Chambers was a lefty, and he was born on this day in 1922. He got his big league start with the Cubs in 1948, but had a pretty rough season (2 wins, 9 losses, and a 4.43 ERA). The Cubs traded him to Pittsburgh after the season, and he had a few solid seasons with the Pirates. On May 6, 1951 he pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Braves.

Cup of Coffee

Future Cub Ed Stauffer was born on this day in 1898. He pitched in only one game for the Cubs on April 26, 1923. Ed pitched two innings and gave up five hits and three earned runs in a 7-5 loss to the Pirates. His final ERA in the NL is 13.50. Among the Pirates he faced that day: future Cub Charlie Grimm, and future Hall of Famers Rabbit Maranville and Pie Traynor. Stauffer later got a little longer shot with the 1925 St. Louis Browns (20 games).

Ed Stauffer passed away in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1979.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Tom Dolan 1855 (White Stocking 1879)
He got his first taste of the big leagues in Chicago (4 at bats in 1979), but later played seven big league seasons elsewhere.

~John Houseman (1894 Colts)
He was the first big leaguer born in the Netherlands.

~Jack O'Neill 1873 (Cubs 1904-1905)
He was born in Ireland, and four of his borthers also played in the big leagues. Jack was a catcher.

~George Pierce 1888 (Cubs 1912-1916)
He pitched six years in the big leagues--five of those with the Cubs--including the team's first season in what is now known as Wrigley Field.

~Dan Rohn 1956 (Cubs 1983-1984)
He was a mostly used as a pinch hitter, and in his rookie season of 1983 he was a pretty good one, hitting .387.

~Rafael Dolis 1988 (Cubs 2011-2013)
The Cubs allowed him to leave via free agency after the 2013 season. He never managed to overcome his control problems.

A/V Club

Donnie Moore's very sad final days...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 9

Today's Featured Cub: Ivan de Jesus

On this day in 1953 Ivan de Jesus was born in Puerto Rico. The Cubs made a rare good trade after the 1976 season when they sent Rick Monday to the Dodgers for Bill Buckner and a little known prospect named Ivan de Jesus. Ivan had a few very good years with the Cubs, especially in the field. In his first season in Chicago he made 595 assists, which is still the fifth best season in baseball history for a shortstop. He could hit a little least in his first few seasons. He even scored more than a hundred runs during the 1978 season, which led the league that year.

But his 1981 season is among the worst in history. He hit only .194 in over 400 at bats, and drove in only 13 runs. The Cubs traded him after the year. It was probably their best trade in history, because in return for their .194 hitting shortstop the Cubs got a future Hall of Famer (Ryne Sandberg) and a gritty veteran starting shortstop (Larry Bowa) to keep the position warm until their star minor leaguer Shawon Dunston was ready to play in the big leagues.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Ivan de Jesus

(Topps 1978 Baseball Card)

According to Baseball Reference his last name is actually written de Jesus, but you can forgive Topps for not getting that exactly correct. The way they wrote it is the way it always appeared in Chicago's newspapers.

The stats on the back of this card are from the 1977 season, and read as follows: 624 at bats, 91 runs, 166 hits, 31 doubles, 7 triples, 3 homers, 40 RBI, and a .266 batting average.

Nickname of the Day: Tarzan

On this day in 1952, future Cub "Tarzan" was born. Joe Wallis earned the nickname "Tarzan" because he was fond of cliff diving. He played parts of four seasons (75-79) with the Cubs, playing all three outfield positions, but predominantly a very shallow centerfield.

Tarzan didn't hit much for average (lifetime .244), or power (16 career homers), and he didn't have a lot of speed (7 stolen bases in 5 big league seasons), but he did have one thing that many of his teammates desired for themselves...a great nickname.

A/V Club
The highlights from this wind-blown 1977 game features Ivan de Jesus' teammates Bill Buckner, Bobby Murcer, George Mitterwald, Manny Trillo, Ray Burris, Donnie Moore, Steve Ontiveros, Paul & Rick Reuschel, Larry Biitner, Willie Hernandez, Jerry Morales, Bruce Sutter, and Dave Rosello. de Jesus went 1 for 5 with 2 runs scored in the game...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Greg Maddux is in the Hall of Fame!

He was elected along with Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Craig Biggio missed it by one or two votes. NBC has the details.

Also, this an awesome article about the scouting of Greg Maddux

Great to see that this cheesy mustache wasn't enough to keep him out.

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 8

Today's Featured Cub: Bruce Sutter

On this day in 1953, future Cubs Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter was born. He's a Hall of Famer, but of course, he's not wearing a Cubs hat even though he had his best and most dominating seasons on the North Side of Chicago.

*He was a six-time All-Star including four times with the Cubs.

*He won the Cy Young Award in 1979 for a very mediocre Cubs team.

*He led the league in saves 5 times.

*And he won the World Series with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals.

Bruce Sutter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006; his 13th season on the ballot.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Bruce Sutter

(Topps 1977 Baseball Card)

In 1977 the Cubs had a resurgent season and were in first place into August but faded badly down the stretch. Their fade just might have had something to do with their incredible closer suddenly being shelved with an injury.

This particular card has his 1976 stats on it (his rookie year with the Cubs), and they read as follows: 6 wins, 3 losses, 83.1 innings pitched, 63 hits allowed, 73 strikeouts, 26 walks, and a 2.70 ERA. (He also had ten saves, but they didn't print that on the card)

From the Pages of History: Elvis Comes to Town

Elvis Presley was born on this day in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. You'd think the King of Rock and Roll would have made a lot of appearances in Chicago, but he only came here four times.

On March 28, 1957 Elvis appeared at the International Amphitheater wearing a gold-leaf suit. The Cubs were in Mesa Arizona conducting spring training. On June 16, 1972 Elvis played at the Chicago Stadium. On that same day, Billy Williams homered in his fourth game in a row and Burt Hooton tossed a shutout against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. On October 14, 1976 Elvis played the Stadium again and the Cubs were scattered across the country licking their wounds from a very disappointing season. And finally, on May 1, 1977 he came back for his final shows. The first place Cubs were in Cincinnati beating the Big Red Machine like a drum. Elvis died only three months later.

Nickname of the Day: Twitch

Marv Rickert was born on this day in 1926. His teammates called him "Twitch". He began his career with the Cubs in 1942, served in the Coast Guard during the war for three years, and then came back to play two more seasons in Chicago. He later played with the Reds, Braves (including in the World Series), Pirates, and White Sox.

Twitch had two memorable Cubs moments, one good and one not so good. In spring training in 1946, he tried to steal second base...with the bases loaded. He attoned for that miscue later that year when he and Eddie Waitkus hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs.

Marv "Twitch" Rickert passed away in 1978. You can read his full profile at the Baseball Biography Project.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Walker Cooper 1915 (Cubs 1954-1955)
He played 17 seasons in the big leagues, caught two no-hitters, and was a World Series champ...before he came to the Cubs.

~Geremi Gonzalez 1975 (Cubs 1997-1998)
He won 11 games for the Cubs as a rookie and later pitched for the Rays, Red Sox, Mets and Brewers. He was hit by lightning and killed in 2008 at the age of 33.

~James Russell 1986 (Cubs 2010-present)
A key left-handed arm out of the Cubs bullpen for several seasons, and son of former big league closer Jeff Russell.

A/V Club
The Bruce Sutter Hall of Fame biography video features a few shots of him pitching for the Cubs...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 7

Today's Featured Cub: Alvin Dark

On this day in 1922, future Cub Alvin Dark was born. Dark had his best years with the Giants in New York, but as a member of the Cubs he was involved in one of the strangest plays in baseball history. It happened on June 30, 1959.

It all started when a missed strike three got away from Cubs catcher Sammy Taylor. 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.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Alfonso Soriano

(2012 Topps Heritage Baseball Card)

Alfonso Soriano was born on this day in 1976. When he signed an eight year contract with the Cubs, he was heralded as a huge signing. After all, he had a rare combination of power and speed (40 homers and 40 steals). Unfortunately, that speed left him pretty quickly after he joined the team, and it wasn't long before he heard the boo birds. In fairness he did have several good seasons with the team, and by the end of his time here, the fans were almost sad to see him go.

The stats on the back of this baseball card are from 2011: 475 at bats, 116 hits, 27 doubles, 1 triple, 26 homers, 2 stolen bases and a .244 batting average.

Nickname of the Day: Kitty

Kitty Bransfield played for the Cubs in his last season in the big leagues, 1911. He was a great first baseman for the Pirates before coming to the Cubs, and they called him Kitty there. The reason for the nickname, according to the Baseball Biography Project: "His original nickname was "Kid," but a reporter with bad hearing heard it as "Kitty" and the name stuck."

You can read Kitty's entire profile at the Baseball Biography Project here.

Cup of Coffee

Dick Calmus got into 21 games with the 1963 Dodgers but didn't get back up to the big leagues until September 2, 1967. He was the starting pitcher for the Cubs that day in the second game of a double header against the Mets at Wrigley Field. The Cubs spotted him a 4-1 lead, but Calmus couldn't hold it. He gave up two home runs to the Mets second baseman Jerry Bucheck, and was pulled in the fifth inning. It was his last big league appearance. He was 23 years old.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Dad Clarke 1865 (1888 White Stockings)
He was a pitcher who eventually pitched seven years in the big leagues, but his stay in Chicago lasted only two games at the age of 23.

~Al Todd 1902 (1940-1943 Cubs)
He was 38 when he joined the Cubs, but he was the starting catcher for them in 1940.

~Doug Capilla 1952 (1979-1981 Cubs)
He was a big part of the Cubs bullpen in his seasons with the Cubs, but he had control issues.

A/V Club
When Soriano connected, it was a thing of beauty. Why anyone in the league ever threw him a fastball is one of life's greatest mysteries. Watch his swing in slow motion...

Monday, January 6, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 6

Today's Featured Cub: Clyde Beck

On this day in 1900, Clyde Beck was born. Beck was a backup infielder for the Cubs for most of his five year Cubs career (1926-1930). He started nearly 90 games for them in the 1928 season, and then went back to the bench for the pennant winning 1929 season. The highlight of his career was probably May 12, 1930. The Cubs hit four homers in the seventh inning that day and were only the second team in history to do it. Clyde Jersey Beck hit the record-tying HR.

Beck hit a career-high six HR that season but batted only .213, 90 points below the league average. The Cubs shipped him off to Cincinnati after the season, and that's where he played his final year in the big leagues.

He died in 1988 in his native California.

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Lee Walls

(1958 Lee Walls Topps Baseball Card)

Lee Walls was born on this day in 1933. The Cubs acquired him (and Dale Long) from the Pirates for Gene Baker and Dee Fondy, and Walls had a couple of good years for the Cubs. In 1957 he hit for the cycle in a game against the Reds. In 1958 he had his best big league season and was named to the All-Star team.

On the back of this baseball card, you'd get the following stats from his 1957 season: 366 at bats, 88 hits, 10 doubles, 5 triples, 6 homers, 33 RBI, and a .240 batting average.

Nickname of the Day: Jersey

Clyde Beck was known as Jersey by his Cubs teammates.

A/V Club
This is a real treat. A Vin Scully called game between the 1957 Cubs (including Lee Walls) and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Sandy Koufax is pitching for the Dodgers and Dick Drott for the Cubs. There's a wonderful lazy summertime feel to the broadcast, and Vin Scully is a master communicator.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

JOBC Cubs Almanac--January 5

Today's Featured Cub: Riggs Stephenson

On this day in 1898, future Cub outfielder Riggs Stephenson was born. Stephenson was a former All-American football player, and his nickname Old Hoss fit his build. Old Hoss was a great hitter, one of the best in Cubs history. He still holds the Cubs record for hitters with more than 2000 ABs, with a .336 lifetime average.

In the Cubs' 1929 pennant-winning year, he combined with Hall of Famers Hack Wilson and Kiki Cuyler to form the only outfield in National League history with 100 RBI players at each spot. (Stephenson 110, Wilson 159, Cuyler 102).

He had his problems in the outfield, however. Old Hoss threw like an Old Hoss thanks to an old football injury. He had major arm problems which hampered him, and eventually shortened his career (1926-1934).

Today's Featured Baseball Card: Bob Dernier

(Topps 1988 Baseball Card)

Bobby Dernier was born on this day in 1957. He was the lead-off man for the 1984 Cubs; the first Cubs team to make the playoffs in 39 years. He and #2 hitter Ryne Sandberg were dubbed the Daily Double by Cubs announcer Harry Caray. Both Dernier and Sandberg got on base a lot, played great defense up the middle (Dernier was the centerfielder), and stole bases (45 in '88). Unfortunately injuries got the best of Bobby and by the time this baseball card came out, he wasn't getting on the field enough to contribute as he could.

The stats on the back from his 1987 season read as follows: 199 at bat, 63 hits, 4 doubles, 4 triples, 8 homers, 21 RBI, 16 stolen bases, and a .317 average.

Nickname of the Day: Bad Bill

Bill Dahlen played shortstop and third base for the Cubs (then known as the Colts) for most of the 1890s. They called him "Bad Bill" because he had a violent temper and was a ferocious competitor. He is considered by some baseball experts to be one of the greatest players still excluded from the Hall of Fame. He certainly has the credentials. He once had a 42-game hitting streak, he hit over .350 twice, he had the record for games played when he retired, and still holds the record for total chances as an infielder. He was a great hitter, a great fielder, and he had a great nickname.

Cup of Coffee

Daryl Robertson was born on this day in 1936. Daryl got a very brief trial with the Cubs in 1962 during the College of Coaches era. He came to the Cubs in the Moe Drabowsky trade, and got into nine games in May of 1962. In 19 at bats, he managed only two hits. That was his only shot at the big leagues. The Cubs traded him to the Cardinals in June, and they kept him in the minor leagues. Daryl may not have had a long big league career, but he did play alongside three Hall of Famers: Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams.

Other Cubs Birthdays

~Bob Caruthers 1864 (1893 Colts)
The very fashionable "Parisian Bob" was a great pitcher (two-time 40-game winner), but unfortunately that was for other teams. When he came to Chicago he only played a handful of games in the outfield.

~Zaza Harvey 1879 (1900 Orphans)
He only got three at-bats for Chicago, but later got a little more playing time in Cleveland.

~Chuck Wortman 1892 (Cubs 1916-1918)
He was a backup infielder for the Cubs for a few years, and even got an at-bat in the 1918 World Series.

~Henry Cotto 1961 (Cubs 1984)
He was only with the Cubs for one season, but he was a key sub on that team. He got a hit in his only at-bat in the NLCS.

~Danny Jackson 1962 (Cubs 1991-1992)
He was a very good starting pitcher and two-time all-star...before and after his stint with the Cubs. With the Cubs, not so much.

~Jeff Fassero 1963 (Cubs 2001-2002)
He was a very good starting pitcher before he came to the Cubs. After being turned into a reliever he did save 12 games for the Cubs.

~Chris Nabholz 1967 (Cubs 1995)
Like many players, he finished his career with the Cubs. He had a few good seasons with the Expos before he came to town.

~Ruben Quevedo 1979 (Cubs 2000)
He was supposed to be the hot pitching prospect the Cubs got in the Terry Mulholland & Jose Hernandez trade with the Braves. He went 3-10 with 7.70 ERA.

A/V Club
On this day in 1961, the television show Mr. Ed premiered. What does that have to do with the Cubs? Well, it provided an outlet for future Cubs manager Leo Durocher who was featured in this famous episode of the show...