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Baseball history unpacked, June 11

Wicker, man, the Hall-of-Fame seven, and other stories

The foggiest notions occur to me
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

A Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline. We have a few easy-to-swallow capsules for you today.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1904 - After pitching nine and a third innings of no-hit baseball, Cubs’ hurler Bob Wicker settles for a 1-0, twelve inning one-hit victory over the Giants. Light-hitting outfielder Sam Mertes, for the second time in his career, breaks up an extra-inning no-hitter, having also spoiled Indians right-hander Earl Moore’s 1901 bid for a no-no when he started the game-winning rally for the White Sox with a one-out single in the top inning. (1)

Funny...SABR lists Mertes as possessing “a rare combination of speed and power”. The BBRef link bears that out, though his power was apparently gap power, as he hit an abnormally large number of triples and lots of doubles. He also pitched 4.2 innings. Wicker looks to have been plagued by injuries — very effective when healthy, but a very short career. 59 of his 64 career victories were for the Cubs. (4)

  • 1911 - At Chicago’s West Side Grounds, Heinie Zimmerman of the Cubs drives in nine runs to set a team record. The Windy City infielder, whose record will be tied by Sammy Sosa in 2002, hits two home runs, a triple, and two singles in the 20-2 rout of the Braves. (1)

Zimmerman was a very good and versatile player during his 13-year Major-League career. He played all across the infield and spent some time in the outfield as well, garnering two MVP nominations and one season with 7.2 WAR (1912, in which he won the Triple Crown). A man of “eccentric disposition,” a gambling scandal while experiencing two subpar seasons with the Giants ended his career. (4)

Dang. Most of those guys were over the hill by then but still...and Perkins was no slouch himself. Also, “he is best remembered for as serving as a mentor to three Hall of Famers—Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove, and Robin Roberts. In all three instances, Perkins had a lot to do with starting them on the path to Cooperstown.” He spent forty years in Major League Baseball, as a player, coach, and manager. (4)

  • 1952 - At Wrigley Field, Hank Sauer homers three times, going deep off Phillies hurler Curt Simmons in the second, sixth, and eighth innings. The Cubs left fielder’s three solo home runs account for all the runs scored by Chicago in the team’s 3-2 victory over Philadelphia. (1)

Box score. Sauer is #31 on the list of the Top 100 Cubs of all time. His 25.5 career WAR and seven MVP noms put him in the Hall of Really Good. Andy Pafko talked about that game — “I enjoyed playing alongside Hank Sauer, a great power hitter,” Pafko later remarked. “I saw him hit three home runs at Wrigley Field off Curt Simmons. It was a great display of power, one to left field, one to center, and one to right field!” Simmons was not bad, either. He spent a couple of years as a Cub, late in his career.

  • 1957 - The DodgersRoy Campanella surpasses former Cub and Giant backstop Gabby Hartnett to establish a new National League mark when he hits his 237th career round-tripper as a catcher. Campy’s historic home run comes off Ray Crone in the seventh inning of Brooklyn’s 7-2 loss to the Braves at Ebbets Field. (1)

Box score. Those were some good teams — look at the names in those lineups.

  • 1963 - After Brock Davis is intentionally walked to load the bases, third baseman Bob Aspromonte blasts a tenth-inning walk-off grand slam off Lindy McDaniel, lifting the Colt .45s to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs. Chicago had tied the Colt Stadium contest in the top of the ninth on a triple by Dick Bertell, a walk to Bob’s brother Ken, and Don Landrum’s RBI single. (1)

Box score. That was not a bad Cubs team, though some of the players’ best games were still in the future and/or with other teams. Landrum was no relation to Tito, but was instrumental (along with McDaniel) in bringing Bill Hands and Randy Hundley to Chicago a couple of years later.

Phillips never lived up to his potential. It has been said that he perhaps did not have the right temperament. Popovich was a decent fielder who theoretically hit from both sides of the plate.


Thanks for reading.