Kiki Cuyler rounds third base during practice at Wrigley Field. SDN-069845, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
Hazen "Kiki" Cuyler is one of the lesser known Hall of Famers. The nickname is a play on the first syllable of his last name (pronounced "Cuy-cuy", not "kee-kee"). Acquired by the Cubs in a lopsided deal after the 1927 deal from the Pirates (largely because he and his manager Donie Bush did not get along), he dominated the National League through 1932, until injuries curtailed his production from 1933 and on. He was on only one All-Star team, but that's because there wasn't an All-Star Game until 1933; he'd certainly have made several before then, and might have won MVP awards in the late 1920s if there had been any.
His .321 lifetime batting average is 51st all-time, and his .325 mark as a Cub ranks sixth among all Cubs who have had at least 1500 at-bats in a Cubs uniform.
Before Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin'" in 1938, this game was widely considered the greatest game in Cubs history. Today, it's been all but forgotten, so I've decided to bring it back to modern memory with this retro recap. You'll see why after the jump.
Is there anything that Kiki Cuyler can't do?
If the Cubs ever wanted permanent bleachers built at Wrigley Field, I'll bet he could do it single-handed.
If you doubt that, read over this summary of what Cuyler did before today's incredible, amazing, I-don't-really-have-any-more-superlatives 10-9, 10-inning win over the Giants, that allowed the Cubs to sweep the five-game series. It was their 12th win in a row and after being in second place at the beginning of this month, they're now 7½ games ahead of the second-place Pirates.
In Sunday's doubleheader, Cuyler hit a three-run homer in the first game and singled and scored in the second game as the Cubs swept. Monday, he hit another home run and his walkoff sac fly won the game for the Cubs 5-4 in 10; in another 5-4 win yesterday, he had two hits and two RBI and homered again.
You'd think that would be enough to get him "star of the series" honors, but our man Cuyler wasn't done.
It wasn't even certain that this game would get to extra innings. A rain fell through most of the last three innings, but plate umpire George Magerkurth insisted that play continue. The Giants had run out to a 4-0 lead after two innings and poor Lon Warneke never even made it out of the first. But Bud Tinning and Bob Smith held the Giants down and the Cubs were down 5-4 going into the last of the ninth. He singled in the tying run and we all thought the Cubs would win right there, but they left the bases loaded.
In the 10th, Guy Bush came in and promptly exploded. The Giants pounded him for four runs and it was ugly, including two hit batters, a walk, a wild pitch and a single. Finally Joe McCarthy got Leroy Herrmann warmed up enough to come in, and he gave up a single to Bill Terry; it looked like the Giants would blow the game even wider open. But Terry was caught stealing, Mel Ott flied to center and Hughie Critz was thrown out at the plate on a nice relay throw from Mark Koenig on a throw from Riggs Stephenson in left.
Don't be too hard on Bush; it was pouring rain by then.
That didn't stop Cuyler. The first two Cubs were easy outs in the 10th, but Koenig homered to make it 9-6. Zack Taylor came up and singled; Billy Herman singled him to second. Another single by Woody English made it 9-7, and up stepped Cuyler.
You couldn't make up what happened next. Another single would have been fine, prolonging the rally. But Cuyler was apparently in a hurry to get out of the rain, slammed a walkoff homer to deep center field, giving him five hits and five RBI for the game and the Cubs had perhaps their most amazing win in this long winning streak.
In all of this, no one from the Giants noticed that the Cubs had batted out of order! Since they said nothing, the results stand. When Billy Jurges led off the inning, it was announced that he was batting for Herrmann, but in actuality, Taylor was the next hitter -- but then he hit two batters later. That wasn't right, but no one said anything... and we'll take it.
There was a total eclipse of the sun early this afternoon, and some of the Cubs players looked at it (through safe viewing means, of course) before the game started and the rains came in. Maybe that's a sign. The win reduced the Cubs' magic number to 20. Let's win the pennant, bring on the Yankees, and get rid of that 24-year World Series drought!