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A Game From Cubs History: June 21, 1911

There was once a Cub nicknamed "Wildfire". Here's a story about him.

You might never have heard of Frank "Wildfire" Schulte, but in 1911 he had a season for the then-young baseball ages.

Schulte, the Cubs' right fielder, hit .300/.384/.534, led the National League in slugging percentage, total bases, RBI and home runs, and was named Most Valuable Player -- not MVP as we know it today, but an award granted by the Chalmers company, which gave a car to the winner from 1911-1914.

Schulte's 21 home runs were the most by a Cubs player in team history -- save the freakish 27 home runs hit by Ned Williamson in 1884 in a ballpark with ludicrously short dimensions compared to today. The 21 home runs was the most hit by any Cub until Gabby Hartnett hit 24 in 1925.

And Schulte became the first major-league player to have at least 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 home runs in a season; he had 30 doubles and 21 triples (which remains, to this day, the team record) to go along with the 21 homers. It's been done just six times since:

Jim Bottomley, 1928: 42 doubles, 20 triples, 31 home runs
Jeff Heath, 1941: 32 doubles, 20 triples, 24 home runs
Willie Mays, 1957: 26 doubles, 20 triples, 35 home runs
George Brett, 1979: 42 doubles, 20 triples, 23 home runs
Jimmy Rollins, 2007: 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs
Curtis Granderson, 2007: 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 home runs

Ryne Sandberg just missed this in 1984 when he hit 36 doubles, 19 triples and 19 home runs.

The Cubs, in midseason, looked like they were going to repeat their 1910 pennant, especially after they crushed the Pirates 14-1 on June 21 to take a half-game lead in the National League over the Giants. And that's where one of Schulte's triples occurred -- but not because he wanted it to. I.E. Sanborn of the Tribune:

One of Schulte's hits was a clean home run, but he was called out at the plate by Umpire Brennan because Gibson tagged him on the leg with which he registered, the said leg being in contact with the plate when it was tagged.

This sounds like it would have been an inside-the-park home run; when Schulte was tagged out, he was credited with a triple. If only we had replay review of plays like this!

Anyway, the Cubs seesawed back and forth between first and second place in 1911, tied for the top spot with the Giants as late as August 21. A hot 32-11 Giants finish left the Cubs in second place that year by 7½ games.