Cubs All-Star Moments: Claude Passeau

Claude Passeau, who pitched for nine seasons for the Cubs and still ranks 15th on the all-time team wins list with 124 (just two ahead of Carlos Zambrano), is nearly forgotten today.

But Passeau not only had several excellent seasons for the Cubs -- had there been a Cy Young Award in the 1940s, he might have won in 1940, 1942 and/or 1945 -- but he is responsible for one of the signature All-Star moments in the history of the game.

Passeau made five All-Star teams -- 1941, 1942, 1943, 1945 (when there was no game, but teams were chosen anyway and 1946 -- and it was in his first appearance that he helped make history.

In the 1940s, the leagues still had very distinct identities and there were fierce rivaries. No interleague play existed and so many of these players never faced each other except in the All-Star Game, or the World Series if they could make it that far. The ASG also wasn't then a showcase simply for stars to play in or pitch for an inning or two; managers used the best pitchers they could to try to win the game.

It was in that context that Passeau followed Whit Wyatt, Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters into the game in the bottom of the seventh inning of the game, played that year in Detroit; each had thrown two innings and after six, had given the American League just five hits and two runs. The NL, which had won three of the eight All-Star Games from its inception in 1933 through 1940, had taken the lead 3-2 in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer by Arky Vaughan.

The NL extended their lead to 5-2 when Vaughan duplicated his feat in the eighth, slamming another two-run shot. Even though Passeau had allowed a run in the last of the eighth, it seemed as if he'd be in line for the save (even though it wouldn't be for nearly another 20 years until the concept of the "save" would even be invented).

Passeau got the first out in the bottom of the ninth easily. Then the bases were loaded on a pair of singles and a walk; Joe DiMaggio grounded into a force play that scored a run to make it 5-3.

Easy, right? Just one out to go for a NL win...

Not so much. Ted Williams launched a 2-1 pitch into the seats for the first walkoff home run in All-Star history. Naturally, it came off a Cubs hurler. There have been only two other All-Star walkoff homers since then -- Stan Musial hit one in 1955 and Johnny Callison in 1964.

Passeau helped the Cubs win the NL pennant in 1945 and threw a one-hitter in the World Series; at the time it was the lowest-hit game ever in a WS. For that, he was rewarded with another All-Star berth in 1946 and was the NL starting pitcher, the only Cubs pitcher ever granted that honor.

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