The Cubs made many changes after Tribune Company's purchase of the team late in 1981. There was a new general manager, Dallas Green, a new manager, Lee Elia, and quite a number of new players.
One of the "new" players was a familiar face. Fergie Jenkins had been shipped to the Rangers after 1973. He then went on to the Red Sox, and he had some of his better years there. Green, who had been a minor-league teammate of Jenkins in Triple-A in 1964 and 1965, decided to bring the 39-year-old Jenkins back to Chicago as a free agent after Fergie told him he could still pitch.
Green was right. The 1982 Cubs weren't a very good team, though their 73-win, .451-percentage season was a distinct improvement over the disasters that were 1980 and 1981.
And on a summer Friday at Wrigley Field, Jenkins brought back one last vestige of his glory years with the Cubs. From Bob Logan's game story in the Tribune:
The shock of seeing the Cubs wallop anybody by a dozen runs -- even the lowly Cincinnati Reds -- caused many fans to overlook an artist at work Friday in Wrigley Field. That's because Ferguson Jenkins has been pitching in the shadow of the Seavers and the Gibsons and the Ryans for a long time. But when the debate over whether the Reds can outgrapple the Cubs for recognition as the National League's worst team is forgotten, Jenkins will be remembered on a Hall of Fame plaque. Friday's 12-0 romp enabled 14,891 Wrigley Field customers to bask in sunshine and revel in 13 Cub hits -- five of them doubles, one a bases-loaded triple by Jerry Morales and still another a Gary Woods two-run homer. While all that was going on, Jenkins was holding the Reds to just five hits. It was the 48th career shutout for the right-hander, and put him just 30 victories away from the magic circle of 300.
Jenkins came up short of the 300-victory milestone, finishing with 284, though he had registered his 3,000th career strikeout earlier in 1982 against the Padres' Garry Templeton. At the time he retired, he was the only 3,000-strikeout pitcher with fewer than 1,000 career walks (since joined by Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling). Fergie had a fine season in 1982, posting 3.7 WAR, which ranked 13th among National League pitchers. He declined in 1983 and was released after spring training in 1984 (a spring I attended, and saw Fergie get hit hard).
But for one afternoon in 1982, Fergie gave us all a blast from his outstanding past with the Cubs.