Friday, July 22, 2011

#211 - Chicago Cubs/ Cubs Team Records

Ah, another floating heads Cubs team card. I don't know why the Cubbies almost always did this. I would have thought that the ivy wall would have made a great backdrop for a photo. In '75 the Cubs actually had a real team photo; just to keep things aligned with the universe the White Sox went with the unattached heads.

So what kind of season did the Cubs have in '73. Not one terribly different from other recent seasons. Whitey Lockman had replaced Leo Durocher a little past halfway through the '72 season and the team's reaction was not terribly dissimilar to that of the '78 Yankees when Bob Lemon replaced Billy Martin. Lockman's laid back style helped revive the team to go 13 games over .500 and second place in the division. In '73 the Cubs were looking to build on that momentum and they got off to a pretty good start. The veterans were hitting, notably Billy Williams who continued his '72 surge; Ron Santo who kicked the year off with a .349 average; and Glenn Beckert who did so with a .325 average and a 26-game hitting streak. They got help from young pitchers Rick Reuschel and Burt Hooton, who both started the year well. At the end of June, after spending virtually the whole season in first, they were up by seven games. But things cooled off after the All-Star break as they went into a 6-17 swoon, the vets aged fast, first base became a shambles, and the pitching sputtered (even Fergie Jenkins had a losing season). The Cubbies finished with a 77-84 record, dismantled their storied infield, and would not compete again until '77.

On the checklist front there are a lot of pitchers, mostly young guys since Fergie had been traded. Reuschel back then signed his name Ricky, which seems comically youthful given his later longevity. Almost all the veteran starters are represented except Beckert who went to San Diego. '74 would be a transitional year for Chicago and while the outfield would be more-or-less preserved, outside of Kessinger the infield and catcher would be completely different.

A lot of these guys are old-timers so let's go:

Billy Herman was a Hall of Fame second baseman. Out of Indiana, he was playing in a local league when he was signed to a minor league contract in '28 by Louisville owner William Neal. After a couple seasons in the lower minors he moved up to Double A Louisville by the end of '29 and played there the next two seasons. He was then signed by the Cubs in '31 and pulled up right away to spell Rogers Hornsby at second. By the end of that season he was the team's starter and he would go on to fill that role for the Cubs the next nine seasons. '35 was his best offensive season for Chicago as he led the league in hits with 227, doubles, and sacrifice hits with 24. While with the Cubs he was a seven-time All-Star and a defensive leader as well as an excellent hit-and-run guy. Early in '41 he was traded to the Dodgers for whom he was an All-Star for three more seasons. In '43 he got his only 100-RBI season (on just two homers). In '44 and '45 he enlisted and played service ball in the Pacific. He returned to the Dodgers in '46, was traded to the Braves halfway through the season, and finished things up with Pittsburgh in '47. In all he hit .304 with a .367 OBA, 2,345 hits, and 839 RBIs. He hit .242 in 18 post-season games and still has the record for putouts in a season at second. While with the Pirates he began his managing and coaching career which also saw him in the Giants organization, with the Dodgers, the Red Sox, the Angels and the Padres, his last gig in the late '70s before retiring. Billy went 189-274 as an MLB manager and 129-126 in the minors. He was elected to the Hall in '75 and passed away in '92 at age 83.

Rogers Hornsby was another HOF second baseman and has an excellent and informative Wiki page linked to here. He played minor league ball for two seasons before being purchased by the Cards in '15. Initially a shortstop he put up excellent offensive numbers for the rest of the teens and then exploded in the '20's. During that decade Hornsby would average .382 with 208 hits, 120 runs, 40 doubles, 12 triples, 25 homers and 115 RBIs, along with an amazing .444 OBA. During that time he won two MVPs, had two triple crown seasons, hit above .400 three times, and won seven batting titles, including six consecutively. He stayed with the Cards through '26, went to the Giants after a contract dispute for '27, to the Braves for '28, and the Cubs in '29. Along with the stats on the card he had 47 doubles, 39 homers, and 149 RBIs that season, his final great one. He would injure his ankle in '30, recover to post a nice '31, and then move around a bit the next six seasons as a player/manager which he'd also done as early as '25. He finished things up with the Browns in '37 and had a lifetime .358 average with 301 homers, 2,930 hits, and 1,535 RBIs, along with a .434 OBA. He was elected to the Hall in '42. Hornsby would manage and coach most seasons over the next 24 years in Mexico, the minors - both franchised and independent - and the majors where his record was 701-812 including a Series winner with the '26 Cards. In the minors he was 465-401 as a manager. He was with the Mets when he passed away of a heart attack in '63 at age 66.

Earl "Sparky" Adams was yet another - primarily - second baseman who began his career in the minors in 1919 when he was already 24 and spent the next three seasons there as a great offensive shortstop, the last for the Cubs' Single A Wichita Falls club. He was a little guy - most "Sparky's" are - going only 5'5". In '23 in Chicago he moved between shortstop and the outfield and in '24 between short and second before he settled in as the Cubs' regular second baseman the next three seasons, all of which he led the league in at bats. Following the '27 season he became the Jim Fregosi of his time by being sent to the Pirates for Kiki Cuyler, who would go on to have a bunch of wonderful years for Chicago. After a decent '28 in which he moved around the infield, Sparky was a utility guy in '29 and was then sold to the Cards. For St. Louis he experienced a revival at age 35, moving to third, and hitting a career-best .314. The next season he led the league in doubles with 46. Both seasons he played in the Series, winning it in '31. After being hurt in '32 he again became a utility guy and early in the '33 season he was sent to the Reds for, among others, Leo Durocher. He finished out his career starting a year-plus at third base for Cincinnati. After a comeback attempt in the minors in '35 - he was 40 - he was done in baseball. For his career he hit .286 with almost 1,600 hits and an OBA of .343. He then returned to PA where he owned and ran a service station until he retired. He passed away at age 94 in 1989.

Frank Schulte was an upstate NY kid who played in the local minor leagues until discovered by the Cubs and signed in 1904. He would then be an outfield starter for the Cubs from '05 midway through the '16 season. He led the league in triples, with 13, in '06, and homers, with 10 in 1910. His biggest season by far was in 1911, when he also had 21 homers, 30 doubles, 105 runs, 107 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases, along with a .300 average to win NL MVP. He was the first player in the 20-20-20-20 club (20 doubles, triples, homers, and stolen bases). He had also by that time participated in four World Series for the Cubs, winning two, and posting a .321 average in 21 games. In '16 he was traded to the Pirates. He moved to Philly in '17 and finished things up with Washington in '18. Lifetime he hit .270 with 92 homers, 792 RBIs, and 124 triples. He then put in some more time for upstate minor league teams, finishing at Oakland in the PCL in '22 when he was 39. He apparently became paralyzed in 1930 and passed away in '49 at age 67. There is a bio of him by the SABR guys here.

Vic Saier came from the local leagues of Michigan, where he grew up, to the Cubs in 1911. In one season of D ball at Lansing in 1910 he had hit .339. He was the club's first regular first baseman after Frank Chance, who was initially Saier's manager. He was building a great early career and his best season was '13 when he also had 14 homers, 92 RBIs, and hit .289. After an off year in '14, in '15 he was coasting when he injured his leg sliding home. That injury pretty much killed his career as his stats fell pretty hard the rest of the season and into '16. Early in the '17 season he broke his leg, missing the rest of the year. In '18 he didn't play to fulfill wartime commitments. Prior to the '19 season he was sold to the Pirates for whom he played a partial season before quitting. He finished with a .263 average with 55 homers and 61 triples in 865 games. After his career ended he returned to Michigan where he managed some local independent clubs. He also has a detailed SABR bio linked to here. He passed away in '67 at age 76.

Hack Wilson came out of the coal mining towns of PA and started playing ball shortly after he dropped out of sixth grade to work. By '21 he was playing D ball in West Virginia, and he would rip the ball with pretty good power as he worked his way to B Ball in '23. There he was scouted by the Giants who bought him that September and threw him in a couple games where he had to wear manager John McGraw's uniform because of his size - only 5'6" but 190 pounds. After a season of being a semi-regular in the outfield in '24 in which he hit .295, Hack had a not-great Series and in '25 slumped pretty hard, spending time in both NY and the minors. He was also establishing himself as a hard partyer and was left unprotected on the roster; the Cubs snapped him up. In the next five seasons Hack would crank it in Chicago. He led the league in homers four times, RBIs twice, and walks twice as the Cubs' regular center fielder. In '29 he returned to the post-season and hit .471 but also made two big errors leading to ten runs by the A's and a loss in the Series. He came back with his huge '30 season in which he also hit .356 with a .454 OBA. In '31 Hornsby was named manager and he and Hack didn't hit it off which, combined with a sharp reduction in stats, led to Wilson being sent to the Cards who almost immediately flipped him to the Dodgers. He put up a nice '32 season - .297 with 23 homers and 123 RBIs - but then continued his spiral downward in '33. In mid '34 he was traded to the Phillies and finished out his career there. He hit .307 lifetime with 244 homers, 1,063 ribbies, and a .395 OBA in 12 seasons. He made a series of bad investments after ball, managed a basketball team, and had a series of jobs before falling in his home in '48. He passed away from complications from the fall at only 48. He, too, has a very informative Wiki page.

This is a huge post. Here are the pitchers.

Ted Abernathy was a big - 6'4" and 215 lbs - reliever out of North Carolina. He was signed by the old Senators in '52 and won 20 with a 1.69 ERA that season in D ball. After a nice start in AA the next season he went to the military for the remainder of the year and all of '54. When he returned in '55 he went to DC where he would spend significant time over the next three seasons as a starter and reliever without very good numbers (8-22 with an ERA above 6.00). He returned to AA ball for a poor '58 and then after a crappy start in '59 hurt his shoulder and required surgery. Due to scarring he then adopted a submarine-style delivery to compensate which completely revived his career, now strictly in relief. Over the next three-plus seasons he did the rehab route at various levels in the minors and put up excellent stats: 17-11 with a 2.52 ERA. By then he had also traveled to Cleveland with whom he came back up in '63 and had a nice season. After a step back in '64, Ted was sold to the Cubs. For them in '65 he became the first reliever to post over 30 saves and he led the NL in games and saves. After a poor start in '66 he went to the Braves and following that season to the Reds in the Rule 5 draft. For Cincy he had two excellent seasons, both years leading the NL in games and once in saves. In '69 he returned to the Cubs, then went to the Cards, and finally in '70 to KC where he settled the rest of his career. He finished up there in '72 recording a lifetime record of 63-69 with a 3.46 ERA, seven complete games, two shutouts, and 148 saves. He twice won Fireman of the Year. After playing he returned to NC where he worked in building management and landscaping. He passed away in 2004 at age 71 from complications of Alzheimer's.

Jack Taylor was an excellent turn-of the 20th century pitcher who grew up in Ohio and was covered on the Card's team post. In '02 he pitched 34 complete games with a 1.29 ERA for the Cubs so those numbers should be represented for the two stats on the back of this card.

Grover Cleveland Alexander was one of the game's best all-time pitchers. He grew up in Nebraska and was pitching in the minors by his late teens. Twice during his minor league career he was beaned, at least one of which either caused or worsened his epilepsy. He recovered by 1909 when he won 15 and the next year was drafted by the Phillies after winning 29. In '11 he came up and won 28 to lead the NL. He also led in complete games and shutouts. He would stay with the Phillies through '17 and during that time would have as good a run as any pitcher: 190-88 with a 2.49 ERA, leading the NL in wins, shutouts, and strikeouts five times, ERA twice, and twice winning the pitching Triple Crown. He led the team to the '15 Series, in which he pitched excellently, although they lost to Boston. He was also a big drinker and due to his seizures his drinking was viewed as more affecting than it may have been. He was traded to the Cubs before the '18 season and missed most of it for WW I duty in Europe. There he got hit with both mustard gas and shrapnel, injuring his hearing and worsening his epilepsy. He returned to lead the NL in ERA and shutouts in '19 and then won 27 as part of another Triple Crown in '20. While he would post another 20-win year for the Cubs his best days were behind him. In '26 he went to the Cards in a mid-year deal - he was 39 - and both started and relieved down the stretch. He then delivered an amazing Series, shutting down the Yankees in two starts and perhaps the best Series relief effort ever in the seventh game. He would win 21 in '27 and then play out his career for the Cards and back in Philadelphia. He finished with a record of 373-208 with an ERA of 2.56, 436 complete games, 90 shutouts, and 32 saves and in the post-season was 3-2 with a 3.56 ERA, four complete games, and a save in his seven games. He also hit .209 with eleven homers and 163 RBI's. He was elected to the Hall in '38. After his career he played with the House of David team for eight seasons, constantly getting in trouble due to his drinking. He took on menial jobs as his health declined to the point where he fully lost his right ear. By 1950 he was back in Nebraska advising a local American Legion league when he passed away at age 63.

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown lost his index finger in a farm accident in Indiana when he was a kid. He used it to his advantage in creating a very efficient sinking curveball. After doing some mining work he was an immediate hit in the minors, winning 25 in D ball and 27 in A ball. The latter year, 1902, he was signed by the Cubs although he was already 26. He had a losing year in '03 - but with a 2.60 ERA - and then took off. The next eight seasons he went a combined 181-77 with a killer ERA well below 2.00. He won 20 or more six straight seasons and led the NL once in wins and ERA, twice in games, complete games, and shutouts, and four times in saves (he seems to have been multi-purposed). He was the top pitcher on four Cubs pennant winners and for the two Series winners he threw shutout ball. After a knee injury led to a relatively poor '12 he was traded to the Reds where he had a lackluster season. He then jumped to the Federal League for its two seasons, managing as well in one of them, going 50-63. In '16 he returned to the Cubs for a partial season, his last in the majors. He finished with a 239-130 record with a 2.06 ERA, 271 complete games, 55 shutouts, and 49 saves. In '06 he led the NL with an ERA of 1.04 so that should trump both Alexander and Taylor on the record card. In the post-season Mordecai went 5-4 with five complete games, three shutouts, and a 2.97 ERA in nine games and as a hitter hit .206 for his career. After his career ended he played and managed in the minors for a few seasons and owned and operated a service station back in Indiana. He was inducted to the Hall in '49, a year after passing away at age 71.

Long Tom Hughes was a Chicago kid who was signed by the Cubs late in 1900 out of Omaha. In '01, his true rookie season, he went 10-23, so the number on the card is wrong, although he had a better than average ERA. Baltimore then grabbed him and he pitched there until later in the '02 season when he was distributed to the Red Sox. In '03 he won 20 for Boston's Series winners but after a poor start in the Series was traded to the Yankees. He lasted half a season in NY and was then sent to the Nats for whom he was probably the best - though losing - pitcher until the arrival of Walter Johnson. In '08 he won 18 with a 2.21 ERA. He was then hurt in '09 and was sold to an A ball team in '10 for whom he won 31. Washington then bought him back and he had a decent revival by 1912. After a poor '13 season he was released, ending his time in the majors. He went 132-173 with a 3.09 ERA, 227 complete games, 25 shutouts, and 15 saves. Another good hitter, he put up a .198 average with 79 RBI's. He then continued to play in the minors, winning 24 in '14 and 19 in '15 which he followed up with years of semi-pro ball. He returned to Chicago to live and there worked in a tavern and also did some groundskeeping for the city. He passed away in '56 at age 77. He also has a very detailed SABR page.

Leonard "King" Cole was another early-20th century pitcher. Out of Detroit, he was another late-starter whose first season in the minors was in '09 when he was 23. He won 21 that year and was purchased by the Cubs for whom he threw a couple games. In 1910 he had an excellent rookie year, going 20-4 with a league-leading 1.80 ERA. He won 18 in '11 but then had a crappy start to his '12 season and was traded to the Pirates for whom he wasn't much better. In '13 he was demoted to Double A Columbus where he won 23 and was subsequently sold to the Yankees. For NY he won ten in '14 and then a couple in '15 when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. That ended his season and killed him early in '16 when he was only 29. He went 54-27 with a 3.12 ERA, 47 complete games, nine shutouts, and two saves in his career.

Toothpick Sam Jones began his career as a catcher in the Negro Leagues in the mid-'40s. By '47, with the help of Satchel Paige, he had become a pitcher for the Cleveland Buckeyes for whom he played through '49. In '50 he was signed by Cleveland who put him in A ball. He would pitch the next five seasons in the minors at various levels, going a combined 62-41 as a curveballing starter. He made a couple appearances for the Tribe during that time but couldn't break into its high powered rotation. After the '54 season he was traded to the Cubs for Ralph Kiner, among others. In two seasons for Chicago he went 23-34 with a 4.00 ERA and led the NL both seasons in both walks and strikeouts. After the '56 season he went to the Cards in a big trade and there turned his stats around pretty well, in two seasons going a combined 26-22 with a 3.30 ERA, again pulling off the double leader thing in '58. In '59 he went to the Giants for Bill White and had his best season, going 21-15 with a 2.83 ERA and four shutouts, finishing second in Cy voting (there was still only one award back then). He won 18 in '60 and then was injured in '61 and saw his stats come in pretty hard. He was selected by the Colt .45's in the expansion draft and then traded to Detroit for whom his pretty good season was impinged by a diagnosis of neck cancer. He would then return to the Cards for a bit before finishing up with Baltimore in '64. He finished 102-101 with a 3.59 ERA, 76 complete games, 17 shutouts, ten saves, and 1,376 strikeouts. He pitched in two All-Star games and threw a no-hitter. He would continue throwing in the minors until '67 for Columbus, Pittsburgh's Triple A club and posted a lifetime record at that level of 101-66. He also played winter ball in Latin America. His cancer recurred by '71 and he passed away from it that year. He was 47.

Orval Overall was yet another of the Chicago pitching stars of the early 1900's. He came out of Cali and was drafted by the Reds in the '04 Rule 5 draft out of Tacoma, for whom he had 57 decisions, going 32-25 that year. His late start was due to attending the University of California for whom he played football and baseball. Up with the Reds in '05 he went 18-23 but with a 2.86 ERA. After another losing start to the '06 season he was sent to the Cubs for Bob Wicker and finished 12-3. In '07 he won 23 and led the league in shutouts which he also did in '09 when he won 20. He was on four pennant winners and threw very well in the Series, going a combined 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA. He slowed down a bit 1n 1910, winning just 12 and then retired. After a brief comeback in '13 he was done. He finished with a record of 108-71 and a 2.23 ERA, 133 complete games, 33 shutouts, and twelve saves. He was very successful after baseball, working in a brewery, for a family business, and then as a banking executive. He passed away in '47 at age 66.

Big Bill Lee came out of Louisiana and by 1930 was playing on area minor league teams. In '31 he won 22 in C ball and made it to Columbus later that season. The next year Columbus became a St. Louis franchise and Bill would win 20 each of the next two seasons there before being traded to the Cubs following the '33 season. He had a nice rookie season for the Cubs in '34 and then won 20 for the '35 pennant winners. In '38 he had his best season with 22 wins and a 2.66 ERA, both of which led the league, as did his shutout total. He came in second in NL MVP voting that season and again made it to the Series. After winning 19 in '39 his record fell substantially and by mid-'43 he was traded to the Phillies. He had an OK '44 then moved around a bunch before finishing things back up in Chicago in '47. He went a combined 169-157 with a 3.54 ERA, 182 complete games, 29 shutouts, and 13 saves and in the post-season was 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a save in four games. After his career ended he returned to Louisiana to work in the insurance business. He passed away there in '77 at age 67.


So how do the Cubbies do representing the '73 team? Catching is good and Glenn Beckert has a card with the Padres, so second is good too, as is shortstop and third. In the outfield we're missing Rico Carty who came over late in '73 from Texas, but he only had 70 at bats. This is pretty good but apparently the club had no first basemen. While Fanzone, Marquez, and Williams each put in over 100 innings there, the top three guys are missing. Pat Bourque had been traded to Oakland and has a card there. Jim Hickman was the number one guy and he was sent to the Cards before the '74 season. Joe Pepitone was banished to Atlanta but neither of these guys has a '74 card. On the floating heads shot Jim is the fourth guy in the second row and Joe may be the last guy in row three, but I can't really tell. On the pitching side, Jenkins had a Rangers card and Juan Pizarro went 0-1 in his final season. That means we have 160 of 161 decisions represented in the set. That almost makes up for the no first baseman thing.

Here at last is the hookup:

1. Fergie Jenkins on the '73 Cubs;
3. Jenkins and Bill Singer on the '76 Rangers.

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