The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time - #83 Guy Bush

This is a wonderful photo; Bush (on the right) is sitting next to cowboy actor/singer Gene Autry, who later became more famous in baseball circles as the owner of the Angels. This photo was likely taken either in 1933 or 1934 at the City Series at Comiskey Park, the annual postseason series that the Cubs and White Sox played for many years when neither was in a World Series.

Photo courtesy of BracePhoto.com; George Brace was a photographer who from 1929 to 1993 took photos of every major league player who passed through Chicago. The business and website is now run as a tribute to Brace's work by his daughter Mary.

Profile by BCB reader cubbiejulie

It's always a travesty when a damn fine ballplayer gets remembered less for what they did than what someone did to them.

Al Downing gave up homerun number 715 to Hank Aaron, Evan Tracy Stallard gave up number 61 to Roger Maris ... and, unfortunately for Guy Bush, he gave up a whopper. Two of them, actually. On May 25, 1935, Guy Bush gave up the last two homeruns of Babe Ruth's career. Yes, THAT Babe Ruth. This is a shame, because Guy Bush was a terrific pitcher for a lot of years.

Bush was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi, on August 23, 1901 - and thus nicknamed "The Missisippi Mudcat" for obvious reasons. As a Virgo, Bush was supposedly possessed of a diligent, analytical, self-sufficient, controlled, orderly, modest, and intellectual character, but was also prone to fussiness, perfectionism, harsh criticism, coldness, and hypochondria. Sounds like a pitcher to me.

Bush was signed by the Cubs for $1,000 in 1919, at the age of 18. He was pitching in the majors less than two years later, and apparently developed a unique delivery that was described by F.C. Lane in the November 1930 issue of Baseball Magazine as follows:

On the hurling mound (Guy) Bush has developed a curious 'hop-toad' lunge that is unique. When he really bears down on the ball, he actually springs forward and finishes up in a squat position like a catcher reaching for a low pitch. This freakish hop forward would be impossible to many pitchers. Bush can do it by virtue of his lithe and wiry build, his long thin legs.

Bush didn't get a chance to pitch on a regular basis until 1925, going 6-13 in 42 games and finishing with an ERA of 4.30. That year, he also led the National League in saves (4). The next year, Bush won 13 games and finished with, as Steve Stone would say, "a sparkling" ERA of 2.86.

In 1927, Bush did something we'll probably never see again: he battled Braves' starter Charlie Robertson for 18 innings before the Cubs finally prevailed by a score of 7-2. Suprisingly, 18 innings wasn't enough for the major league record, as Leon Cadore (Brooklyn) and Joe Oeschger (Boston) both went the distance in a 26-inning marathon in 1921.

Though Bush continued to pitch well over the course of the next two years, finishing with ERAs of 3.03 and 3.83, respectively, it wasn't until 1929, when he played an integral part in helping the Cubs win the 1929 pennant (ahhhh ... what would that feel like?), that Bush had his breakout season, winning 18 games, saving 8, and finishing 10th in the voting for NL MVP. That year, Bush didn't lose his second game of the season until August 12.

Bush again played a huge role in the Cubs winning the 1932 pennant, getting his 19th win on September 20, clinching the pennant with a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. This time, Bush finished 23rd in NL MVP voting, having pitched in 40 games, started 30, and finished 7 of them. Bush walked 70 and struck out 73 batters that year and finished with an ERA of 3.21. The following year, in 1933, Bush would have his only 20-game win season of his career, facing 1,101 batter and winding up with an ERA of 2.75.

In 1934, after 11 years with the Cubs, Bush was traded to Pittsburgh along with Jim Weaver and Babe Herman for Larry French and Fred Lindstrom. It was as a member of Pirates that Bush gave up the last two homers of Babe Ruth's career. Ruth hit 3 dingers that day, one off of Pirates pitcher Red Lucas and the final two off of Bush. Ruth's final homer, number 714, was the first to clear the RF grandstand at Forbes Field and was measuerd at 600 feet. Following his last homerun, Ruth sat down in Pittsburgh's dugout next to Pirates rookie Mace Brown. Ruth went 4-4 that game with 6 RBIs. Guy Bush presumably went home and cried.

Before it was over, Bush would also play for the Boston Bees and St.Louis Cardinals before retiring in 1938. In an interesting note, Bush would again take the mound 7 years later in 1945, as major league teams scrambled to fill wartime rosters. Bush threw in four games for the Cincinnati Reds, winding up with an ERA of 8.31 and 1 save.

Guy Bush died July 5, 1985, at the age of 83, while working in his garden in Shannon, Mississippi. He passed away 7 years too early to see himself portrayed in the movie "The Babe," by actor Richard Tyson. Was Bush memorialized in the movie for surviving in the majors for 17 years? For pitching in 542 games? For winning 176 and losing 136 of them? For starting 308 games and completing 151 of them? For facing 11,750 batters over the course of his career? Walking 859? Striking out 850? Finishing with a career ERA of 3.86?

Nope. You guessed it. It was that damn homerun.

Like I said, a travesty.

Guy Bush's career stats at baseball-reference.com

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