A Day In Wrigley Field History: August 13, 1959

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

The Cubs did something on this day that they've done just 10 other times in the history of Wrigley Field.

1959 was, of course, the year the World Series came to Chicago -- on the South Side.

While the White Sox were winning the American League pennant, the Cubs were sniffing around the edges of contention. As late as July 28, they were just 4½ games out of first place. Could this be the year that both teams returned to the postseason?

It wasn't to be; the Cubs immediately lost seven in a row after July 28 and went just 24-32 the rest of the way in 1959. Still, their 74-80 record was their best since 1952 and they finished just 12 games out of first place.

And on August 13 at Wrigley Field, they crushed the Giants 20-9, just the second time a Cubs team had scored 20 or more runs at home since 1938. One thing is for sure: the Tribune headline used on Richard Dozer's recap wouldn't be used today:

CUBS WRECK GIANTS IN N. SIDE BOMBING

Neither would some of the war-like terminology in the story itself:

The Cubs may have been saluting the advent of the football season Thursday when they ran up the National league's biggest offensive and shell shocked the first place San Farncisco Giants, 20 to 9, in a record filled contest.

It was the longest nine inning game in National league history -- 3 hours and 50 minutes. A crowd of 17,963 witnessed the marathon in Wrigley field.

The previous record was 3:43, set in the Cubs' 23 to 13 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals on April 17, 1954.

The Cubs, who have totaled 46 hits in their last three games, 12 of them home runs, received 13 walks yesterday along with their 19 hits. 

There were eight home runs in the slugfest, five of them by the Cubs, who abused the talents of seven San Francisco pitchers with a 19 hit assault that extended their latest winning streak to three.

That's one of the more interesting things about this game. Among those seven Giants pitchers were Jack Sanford, a 24-game winner three years later; Eddie Fisher, who later became an outstanding knuckleball relief specialist; Stu Miller, a two-time league leader in saves; Al Worthington, who also led his league in saves and was outstanding for the 1965 A.L. champion twins; and Mike McCormick, who won 22 games and the Cy Young award for the Giants in 1967.

But on that day? None of them was any good. Sanford, in fact, was ejected in the first inning after getting angry about a ball being called. The five Cubs home runs were hit by Tony Taylor, Al Dark, Dale Long and a pair by George Altman. Taylor was also involved in a disputed play while on the bases:

The game was played under protest from the fifth inning on, when Manager Bill Rigney of the Giants lodged official disapproval of a play on which Base Runner Tony Taylor fielded a foul ball off third base.

The article doesn't really go into any detail about exactly what Taylor did, but I recall quite a number of these protests lodged in games in the 1960s. Very few of them were upheld. I suspect the reasons for the protests were lack of familiarity with the rules and umpires not willing to budge after a decision was made on the field. With the advent of replay review in 2014, you'll probably see the protested game become a thing of the past. At least umpires today have been willing to all get together on the field and discuss rulings, as they did in the 2013 World Series.

One final note on this game: it was the first appearance at Wrigley Field for future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who had a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning. McCovey would eventually hit 24 home runs in 437 career at-bats at Wrigley.

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