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Chicago Cubs history: Pete LaCock and the 1973 Cubs

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The son of a game show host, LaCock never made a big splash with the Cubs

Pete LaCock with the Royals
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In their first full season under Whitey Lockman, the Cubs had a losing season for the first time in seven years and slipped down to fifth place in the National League after being second the year before.

1973 Cubs

Record: 77-84
Standing: 5th in the National League East
Manager: Whitey Lockman

The once seemingly unstoppable Ron Santo had an uncharacteristically down year by his standards, hitting .267/.348/.440 with only 20 home runs. It was Rick Monday who led the team in bombs that year, with 26. Billy Williams continued to be one of the team’s consistent stars, hitting .288/.369/.438, and Jose Cardenal hit an impressive .303/.375/.437, though it would be hard to classify him as a power hitter since he seemed to mostly specialize in doubles.

Every Cubs pitcher carried a losing record in the 1973 season, though Fergie Jenkins, Burt Hooton, and Rick Reuschel all managed 14 wins apiece and Reuschel’s 3.00 ERA was the team’s lowest of the year, and Jenkins had an impressive 170 strikeouts.

And among the players for the slouching 1973 Cubs was a 21-year-old right fielder named Pete LaCock.

Pete LaCock

Children of celebrities often try to seek their own paths to get out from under the shadow of their famous parents. It’s hard to know if that was what drove Pete LaCock to baseball, though he once claimed it was because he wanted to buy himself a new Porsche, but his father was certainly the bigger name in the 1970s. Peter Marshall (whose real name was Ralph Pierre LaCock, and who’s still living today, aged 93) was in the heyday of hosting Hollywood Squares at the time his son (legally named Ralph Pierre LaCock Jr.) was making his big break into the majors.

LaCock was drafted by the Cubs in the first round in 1970 (20th overall pick) and made his major league debut in 1972, appearing in five games for the Cubs. 1973 wasn’t a much bigger year for him, as he appeared in only 11 games and hit a mere .250/.294/.313 without a home run in sight. He saw more playing time in the following seasons with the Cubs, but was never a major star with the team. He never found a set place on the field, serving in pinch-hitting and utility roles as needed.

Likely the biggest moment in LaCock’s Cubs career came in 1975, when he hit his only career grand slam against the Cardinals. That game, played September 3, 1975, was the last of Cardinal great Bob Gibson’s career and the homer, the last one he allowed.

In 1977, he went to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team trade also involving the Mets. The Cubs wound up with Jim Dwyer in the deal. As was common for the Cubs in that era, they released Dwyer at the end of that season and he went on to have a long career as a DH in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the change of scenery did well for Pete LaCock. In his four seasons in KC he hit .277/.329/.380, considerably better than he ever did in a Cubs uniform. But by 1980, LaCock’s MLB career was over. He went to Japan and played the 1981 season for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales. The culture shock of playing for a Japanese club didn’t suit LaCock, who returned to the USA with his family the following year.

LaCock spent much of his post-playing career managing various unaffiliated minor league clubs or working as a hitting coach. He also worked in finance after settling in Kansas City, according to a 1990 article from the Los Angeles Times. He enjoys golf, and is also an avid runner, who has completed many charity marathons. He often appears at Sloan Park during spring training as part of Fergie Jenkins’ autograph sessions.