clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Top 20 Cub HR Of All Time - #14 Rick Sutcliffe 10/2/1984

New, comments

It was glorious, for two days.

The Cubs' first postseason date in thirty-nine years was beautiful and sunny, with light breezes and a temperature of 70 degrees, nice for early October. The Cubs were favored in the series against a team considered the "upstart", the Padres. Rick Sutcliffe, winner of 16 of his 20 starts since joining the Cubs from Cleveland at the old trading deadline date of June 15, took the mound against a Padre who three years later would enter Cub lore forever when he hit Andre Dawson in the face with a pitch, Eric Show.

The Cubs took to Show early and often. Dallas Green's Phillie acquisitions at the end of spring training, Bob Dernier and Gary Matthews, who had been key players in the drive to the division title, both homered in the first inning. Sutcliffe was mowing down Padres, meanwhile, and hadn't allowed a hit in the first three innings when he came up to bat to lead off the bottom of the third.

Sutcliffe was a decent hitter -- in 1984 he had hit .250/.276/.304 in 56 AB, with three doubles and six RBI. I was sitting in the RF bleachers, a few rows down from my usual spot (there were no bleacher season tickets in those days, so we scrambled to get whatever playoff tickets we could find; I got lucky to get into RF). Sutcliffe, a RHP who batted lefthanded, crushed a Show pitch that flew a few feet over our heads and wound up on Sheffield. He was the first Cub pitcher to homer in a postseason game. In fact, in the ten World Series (53 games) in which the Cubs appeared from 1906-1945, only twelve HR were hit by Cubs, only three of which were hit in games the Cubs won:

Charlie Grimm (game 3, 1929, L); Kiki Cuyler & Gabby Hartnett (game 3, 1932, L), Frank Demaree (game 4, 1932, L), Demaree (game 1, 1935, W), Demaree (game 3, 1935, L), Hartnett (game 4, 1935, L), Chuck Klein (game 5, 1935, W), Billy Herman (game 6, 1935, L), Joe Marty (game 3, 1938, L) Ken O'Dea (game 4, 1938, L), Phil Cavarretta (game 1, 1945, W)

Not an awe-inspiring list, is it. And Joe Marty and Ken O'Dea aren't exactly memorable in Cub history (O'Dea was a backup catcher and Marty a spare-part outfielder).

The Cubs added two more HR that afternoon -- another by Matthews and one by Ron Cey, both off Greg Harris, and went on to win 13-0. It was, at the time, the largest shutout in postseason history; the Atlanta Braves beat this margin twice in one series, winning game 5 of the 1996 NLCS 14-0 and then winning game 7 of that same series 15-0.

But for one day, Sutcliffe and the Cubs tasted glory. Winning the next day 4-2, they figured to take the series easily. Let's stop there.