... as always on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I bring a you a wildly popular Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along as we review select scenes from the rich tapestry of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history. The embedded links often point to articles that I’ve chosen as illustrative of the scenes, from The Society for American Baseball Research, reproductions of period newspapers, images, and other such material as is often found lurking on the interwebs.
“It’s a little bit cheesy, but it’s nicely displayed.” — Frank Zappa
You might learn something, but mostly, it’s for fun!
Today in baseball history:
- 1917 - George Mogridge of the New York Yankees pitches a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox, 2 - 1, at Fenway Park. Mogridge strikes out three batters and walks three as he becomes the first Yankee pitcher to actually win a no-hit game. (1,3)
- 1931 - Three days before his 35th birthday, Chicago’s player-manager Rogers Hornsby is again undaunted by Forbes Field’s forbidding expanse. Hornsby hits three consecutive home runs to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10 - 6. This is the final season in which Hornsby will allot himself significant playing time – 357 at-bats in 100 games. The hyphenate portion of his career will extend through 1937, but his on-field appearances will come primarily off the bench and never again will he amass as many as 100 at-bats in a season. Regarding today’s display, Fred Wertenbach of the Pittsburgh Press reports: “For the enlightenment of those fans not among the 15,000 at yesterday’s slaughter, the great Rogers crashed three successive long, legitimate and unsullied homers over the distant Forbes Field ramparts, two off Larry French and the third off Claude Willoughby. Mr. French tried to southpaw Hornsby in the 3rd à la screw ball. Two men were on at the time. He pitched a bit low. Hornsby drove it over the left field wall, about the seventh panel up from the scoreboard. The score then became Cubs 3, Pirates 5. In the 5th, Larry faced Hornsby again with two on. ‘Huh! He hits ‘em low; I’ll try one high outside,’ Larry reasoned. Bang! The ball cleared the screen in right, and the score in a trice became 6 - 5, Cubs. The 6th frame saw Willoughby, a right-hander, ready to benefit from French’s experience, the latter having left the scene. ‘This guy hits ‘em low, he hits ‘em high – my play is to curve him to death,’ was the ex-Phillie’s logic. Kiki Cuyler was on second. Wham! A curve, waist high, was interrupted as it came up to the plate, and diverted over the scoreboard in left. Two more runs added to the Cub total, making eight driven in by Rogers.” (3)
- 1945 - Happy Chandler becomes the second baseball commissioner. The major league owners unanimously elect the former governor of Kentucky on the first ballot and reward him with a seven-year contract. Chandler succeeds Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the game’s first commissioner, who died in 1944. (3)
- 1948 - Bill Nicholson of the Chicago Cubs makes his bid to become the first player in Wrigley Field’s 34 years of existence to reach its distant centerfield scoreboard with a batted ball. Instead, the ball sails by on the right hand side, out of Wrigley altogether and onto Sheffield Avenue. Roberto Clemente, aiming for the other side, will come even closer on May 17, 1959. Close, but no cigar. The massive structure remains untouched to this day.
- 1946 - Eleven former players — Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, Frank Chance, Jesse Burkett, Tom McCarthy, Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, Ed Walsh, Jack Chesbro, Clark Griffith, and Joe McGinnity — are named to the Hall of Fame.
- 1957 - Three Cubs pitchers walk nine players in the fifth inning of a 9-5 loss to the Reds at Crosley Field. Moe Drabowsky starts the frame with four walks, Jackie Collum adds three free passes, and Jim Brosnan issues two bases on balls to set a new National League record. (1)
- 1958 - At the Los Angeles Coliseum, Gene Fodge picks up his only major league victory when the Cubs beat the Dodgers, 15-2. Outfielder Lee Walls carries the day with three homers and eight RBIs. (1)
- 1962 - Dodger southpaw Sandy Koufax ties his major league record, a mark he shares with Bob Feller when he strikes out 18 batters in a nine-inning contest during the team’s 10-2 rout of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. In 1938, nineteen-year-old right-hander Bob Feller established the record, whiffing 18 batters in the Indians’ 4-1 loss to the Tigers at Cleveland Stadium. (1)
- 1998 - Dodger backstop Mike Piazza ties a major-league record, hitting his third grand slam of the month. The blast highlights a nine-run second inning which leads Los Angeles to a 12-4 victory over the visiting Cubs. (1)
- 2010 - After undergoing shoulder surgery in November 2009, Ted Lilly pitches six scoreless innings in his first start of the year for the Cubs, leading his team to a 5 - 1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Carlos Zambrano, who, in a controversial decision, was moved to the bullpen to make room for Lilly in the starting rotation, pitches an inning and a third in his first relief appearance in almost eight years. He gives up the Brewers’ sole run, but drives in one of the Cubs’ tallies with a sacrifice fly.
- 2012 - For the first time in major league history, four different pitchers combine to walk four consecutive batters when the Marlins hurlers load the bases and then force in a run in a 2-1 loss against the Mets. Josh Johnson walks Lucas Duda, then Randy Choate issues a free pass to Justin Turner, followed by Steve Cishek’s base-on-balls to Scott Hairston, and finally, Mike Dunn forces home Josh Thole with the tying run with the last of the only walks given up by the Miami staff in the Citi Field contest. (1)
- 2017 - Dovydas Neverauskas, taking the roster spot of DL-bound Adam Frazier, becomes the second person born in Lithuania, but the first raised there, to appear in a major league game when he throws two innings of one-run ball for the Pirates in 14-3 loss to the Cubs at PNC Park. A’s outfielder Joe Zapustas, who played two games for the team in 1933, was also born in the Baltic state, but spent his childhood in Boston. (1)
- Cubs birthdays: Ken Penner, Glen Hobbie, Herman Segelke, Will Cunnane, Welington Castillo. Also notable: Chipper Jones (HoF).
- (1) — The National Pastime.
- (2) — Today in Baseball History.
- (3) — Baseball Reference.
- (4) — Society for American Baseball Research.
- (5) — Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thanks for reading.