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A Game From Cubs History: July 6, 1949

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The Cubs became nearly permanent residents in last place as the 1940s came to a close.

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

1949 was a continuation of 1948 for the Cubs, only worse. They scored the fewest runs in the National League, allowed the most, and finished last for the second straight year, losing 93 games. Charlie Grimm would be replaced as manager by Frankie Frisch, and at the then-trading deadline, June 15, they'd make a trade that would bring a popular player to Wrigley Field for several seasons: Hank Sauer, who was acquired from the Reds along with Frank Baumholtz in exchange for Peanuts Lowrey and Harry Walker, one of the better deals the Cubs made in the 1940s or 1950's. (Lowrey would later become a Cubs coach.)

The team had just fallen into the basement at the time of that deal and, even though Sauer hit .291/.363/.571 with 27 home runs and 83 RBI in just 96 games for the '49 Cubs, they would go only 42-60 the rest of the way.

One of those 60 losses was particularly memorable; in the first game of an 18-game road trip, they were crushed by the Reds 23-4, one of just five times in franchise history a Cubs team has allowed that many runs.

Edward Burns of the Tribune sums up the carnage:

Never since the Cubs became permanent occupants of the National league cellar have they so spectacularly shown their right to the hole as they did today in accepting a 23 to 4 thrashing at the hands of the seventh place Cincinnati Reds.

Most spectacular of the Cubs assailants was Walker Cooper, who joined the Reds, a Giants outcast, June 14. Cooper, in his first six times at bat, busted three homers and three singles and drove in 1O runs, nine of them with the homers, his eighth, ninth and tenth circuit blows of the season. The six hits in six consecutive times at bat in a nine inning game made him the 12th National leaguer to achieve that feat in this century, the last being Cookie Lavagetto for the Dodgers in 1939.

O, yes, there was a Cubs offensive too, Hank Sauer knocked his No. 14 homer in the third. Frankie Gustine knocked a triple and a single. There were seven other hits off Old Ken Raffensberger, who went all the way for his third victory of the season over the Cubs. He shut them out in the other two conquests.

I'm not sure what the reference to "Old" is for Raffensberger; he was 32 at the time. Maybe it refers to the fact that he pitched for the Cubs nearly a decade earlier.

The Cubs pictured various players on their scorecard in 1949; Wayne Terwilliger, pictured here, was a longtime major-league coach (mostly with the Twins) and minor-league manager after his retirement as a player. He managed in the independent Central League as recently as 2005, when, at age 80, he led his Fort Worth Cats to the league title.

You think this is bad? Just wait: The 1950s are coming.