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Something I Learned While I Was Looking Up Something Else

Hey, I think I'll make this a semi-regular feature here.

OK, this requires some explanation. I subscribe to Lee Sinins' excellent Around the Majors report (and you can too; sign up here.)

Anyway, each day he posts some names of players past and present whose birthday falls on today's date. One of the names today was Herm Wehmeier, a middling starting pitcher for the Reds and a couple of other teams in the 40's and 50's. I got interested because Wehmeier died at a young age -- only 46, in 1973.

Then I started clicking on "Similar Pitchers", and decided to keep going till I found one WITHOUT a losing record. OK, a silly game, but I'm bored today.

The first one I found was Cal McLish, who pitched for a number of teams in the 50's and 60's, including the Cubs.

Coincidentally, McLish started for the Phillies against the Cubs in the very first major league game I ever attended, July 6, 1963. I like to say that game got me prepared for a lifetime of Cub fandom -- they lost 6-0, a three-hit CG shutout.

What did I learn from all this? That McLish, who was a decent major league pitcher with a 92-92 lifetime record, threw only five major league shutouts, and that one, in fact, was the last one.

There's something else notable about that July 6, 1963 game that really illustrates the difference between baseball today and the game of forty-three years ago. The Cubs entered play on that date with a 45-35 record, in second place behind the Dodgers, three games out of first place, riding a four-game winning streak. Keep in mind that the last time before 1963 that the Cubs had a winning season was seventeen years earlier, in 1946. So you'd think there would have been a buzz, a sellout crowd, right? Given that it was a summer Saturday afternoon?

Nope. Attendance was less than half capacity, 16,348. Shows you what actual marketing can do for you.