In week 12, the Cubs won seven of eight games and moved to a season-high 24 games over .500. That pushed their division lead to 81⁄2 games. As the season approached the half way mark, the Cubs were on pace to win over 100 games and easily win the NL East. Obviously, that’s not how things went. But at this point in the season, the Cubs were still flying high.
In those days, summer schedules were particularly brutal. For the third straight week, the Cubs would play eight games in seven days. Leo Durocher received a lot of negativity through the years for the way he used his everyday players. But I think one of the overlooked things is that Leo really had three good starting pitchers in Ferguson Jenkins, Ken Holtzman and Bill Hands. In those days, four-man rotations were pretty normal. But the thing was, with the spaced out schedule of April and May, Jenkins and Holtzman were starting a little more than half the games. Durocher was skipping an off day when he could with the rotation. But with eight games per week, he had to consistently use the fourth starter and on a few occasions a fifth starter or bullpen game.
In this edition of Historical Heroes and Goats, we take a look at week 13 of the 1969 season. That is a week that sees the Cubs go on the road to Montreal and St. Louis. We’ve talked before that the Expos, an expansion team that year, was well below .500, but played some of its best ball against the Cubs. The Cardinals were a team the Cubs just took three out of four at home from to end week 12. As we’ll also cross the 81 game mark, I’ll also take an intermission to update the top 5 and bottom 5 in the Heroes and Goats season standings.
Game 77, June 30: Cubs 2, Expos 5 (50-27)
This game was started for the Cubs by Dave Lemonds. Lemonds allowed four hits, three walks and two runs in 2⅔ innings. The Cubs actually scored first in this one, scoring in the top of the first. But two in the third chased Lemonds, who we’ll chronicle in this week’s pitcher feature. The Expos added another run in the fourth and then two in the sixth all but ended this one. The Cubs scored in the seventh, but they were only able to make two runs out of 10 hits and five walks. Baseball-Reference notes that this game was played under protest by the Cubs. The story of the protest was written up by Al last year:
[Ernie] Banks hit a ball over the fence at Jarry Park in Montreal on June 30, 1969, a foggy, drizzly night when they probably shouldn’t have played at all. Expos right fielder Rusty Staub kicked some dirt around the bottom of the fence and told the umpires, who were having trouble seeing in the fog, that the ball had gone under the fence.
Obviously, that’s ludicrous, but the umpires believed him and Ernie was given a double. The Cubs played the game under protest, which was disallowed. Many years later Staub told writers that he had to walk away from the scene so the umps wouldn’t see him laughing.
- Superhero: Don Kessinger (.114). 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, RBI, 2R
- Hero: Willie Smith (.039). 2-4
- Sidekick: Bill Heath/Hank Aguirre (.035). Heath: 0-0, BB; Aguirre: 22⁄3 IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 1K
- Billy Goat: Phil Regan (-.125). 2⅓ IP, 5H, 1BB, 1R, 2K
- Goat: Ted Abernathy (-.112). ⅓ IP, 1H, 2BB, 2R, 0K
- Kid: Don Young (-.098). 0-2
Game 78, July 1: Cubs 4, Expos 11 (50-28)
Not to beat a dead horse, but through this game, the Cubs were 22 games over .500 even after losing this game. The Expos? They were 30 under (22-52). But through the end of this game, they were 6-6 against the Cubs. This one got out of hand in a hurry. The Expos scored five in the third and five more in the fourth. The Cubs scored three of their four runs in the eighth inning, long after the outcome of this one was decided.
- Superhero: Glenn Beckert (.049). 2-5, K
- Hero: Don Kessinger (.025). 3-5, RBI, K
- Sidekick: Willie Smith (.016). 3-5, 2B, R, RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Ken Holtzman (-.323). 3⅔ IP, 9H, 1BB, 9R (7ER), 2K, L(10-3)
- Goat: Ernie Banks (-.107). 0-3, K
- Kid: Randy Hundley (-.035). 1-3, HR, RBI, R
Game 79, July 2: Cubs 4, Expos 2 (51-28)
Bill Hands stayed hot. This was his eighth complete game of the season and fourth in a row (all wins). The Cubs got three more hits from Glenn Beckert who had returned from injury the day before and three more from Jim Qualls (all extra base hits). Qualls was starting his second straight game, but only his third game of the season. But, he would get most of the playing time in center field for the Cubs in July.
- Superhero: Bill Hands (.331). 9IP, 9H, 1BB, 2R, 7K, W(9-6)
- Hero: Jim Qualls (.237). 3-4, 3B, 2 2B, 2RBI, R
- Sidekick: Glenn Beckert (.144). 3-4, HBP, 2B,
- Billy Goat: Billy Williams (-.089). 0-4, BB, 2K
- Goat: Ernie Banks (-.075). 0-4, K
- Kid: Ron Santo (-.049). 0-3, SF, RBI, 2K
Game 80, July 3: Cubs 8, Expos 4 (52-28)
The Cubs did win to split the series, but even this one was in doubt. The Expos scored one in the first and two in the third to lead 3-0. The Cubs scored one in the sixth, then busted out for seven runs in the seventh. The Cubs had six hits and a walk in the inning, so there was quite a bit of efficiency in this inning.
- Superhero: Don Kessinger (.421). 2-4, BB, 3B, 2B, 2RBI, 2R, K
- Hero: Al Spangler (.152). BB, RBI, R
- Sidekick: Jim Qualls (.126). 1-3, HBP, R
- Billy Goat: Dick Selma (-.102). 6IP, 6H, 2BB, 3R(1ER), 6K, W(9-3)
- Goat: Ernie Banks (-.083). 0-4, 3K
- Kid: Ted Abernathy (-.063). ⅓ IP, 3H, 0BB, 1R, 1K
Mid-Season Heroes and Goats Top 5/Bottom 5:
- Ferguson Jenkins 21
- Bill Hands 17
- Ken Holtzman 12
- Ron Santo 10
- Al Spangler 7
- Don Kessinger/Ted Abernathy -7.5
- Adolfo Phillips -8.5
- Randy Hundley -9.5
- Nate Oliver -12.5
- Don Young -15.5
The Cubs’ three top starters take the top three spots. Ron Santo had emerged as the hitting star of the team. Through 80 games, he had an OPS of .953. The next closest regular was ironically Hundley (.836) who didn’t shine in H&G. With so many of the Superhero spots going to starting pitchers in those days, H&G was really tough on the hitters. Kessinger too was one of the Cubs more productive hitters (.766).
Game 81, July 4: Cubs 3, Cardinals 1 (53-28)
There’s that score again. This was the fourth time in five Cubs/Cardinals games that the final score was 3-1. The win here pushed the Cubs to 25 games over .500 for the first time. It certainly wasn’t an easy one though. This was one of the legendary Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson match-ups that happened so many times. Both pitchers pitched into the 10th inning. The Cubs were able to score two off of Gibson in the top of the inning and Jenkins finished it out.
- Superhero: Fergie Jenkins (.594). 10 IP, 7H, 2BB, 1R, 10K, W(11-5)
- Hero: Don Kessinger (.423). 3-5, 3B, 2R, SB
- Sidekick: Billy Williams (.209). 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Willie Smith (-.200). 0-4, 3K
- Goat: Ron Santo (-.198). 1-5, RBI, 3K
- Kid: Jim Qualls (-.197). 0-4
Game 82, July 5: Cubs 1, Cardinals 5 (53-29)
The Cardinals scored four in the fourth and added another in the fifth. June and July were just terrible months for Ken Holtzman. After a 6-0 May (2.16 ERA), he was 2-1 in June (4.46) and 2-3 in July (5.76). He had six complete games and four shutouts by the end of May. But only had one complete game shutout in June/July combined. The Cubs mustered only five hits. Holtzman actually had one of them and his .028 WPA as a hitter would have been the Superhero.
- Superhero: Dave Lemonds (.007). 2IP, 1H, 2BB, 0R, 0K
- Hero: Don Nottebart (.001). 1IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
- Sidekick: Paul Popovich (-.001). 0-1
- Billy Goat: Ken Holtzman (-.199). 3⅓ IP, 6H, 2BB, 4R, 3K
- Goat: Billy Williams (-.072). 1-4, DP
- Kid: Ron Santo (-.059). 0-4, RBI, K
Game 83, July 6: Cubs 2, Cardinals 4 (53-30)
In the first game of a doubleheader, Steve Carlton was once again masterful against the Cubs. This was his second win against the Cubs in as many weeks. In his only previous start against the Cubs, he lost 1-0 in to Jenkins in an April game. The Cubs did put the first two batters on against Carlton in the ninth, ending his day. Both of those runners eventually scored, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a four run deficit.
- Superhero: Ernie Banks (.105). 3-3, BB, R
- Hero: Randy Hundley (.089). 2-4, 2B, K
- Sidekick: Hank Aguirre (.083). 2⅔ IP, 1H, 1BB, 0R, 0K
- Billy Goat: Bill Hands (-.194). 3⅓ IP, 4H, 3BB, 3R, 3K, L(9-7)
- Goat: Jim Hickman (-.173). 0-3
- Kid: Billy Williams (-.140). 0-4
Game 84, July 6: Cubs 3, Cardinals 6 (53-31)
The second game of the doubleheader didn’t go much better for the Cubs. They did briefly lead in this one. The Cardinals scored the first two runs in the first inning. The Cubs scored three in the top of the third for that brief lead. But the Cards scored three more in the bottom of the third. Rich Nye got the start in this one. It was his first start since June 22.
- Superhero: Jim Qualls (.172). 2-4, 2RBI
- Hero: Glenn Beckert (.112). 1-4, BB, R
- Sidekick: Dick Selma (.059). 2IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 2K
- Billy Goat: Rich Nye (-.458). 3IP, 5H, 1BB, 5R, 2K, L(1-4)
- Goat: Ernie Banks (-.132). 1-4
- Kid: Ken Rudolph (-.047). 0-2, BB
Looking Back: It was an up-and-down week coming out of a week where the Cubs won seven of eight games at home. They lost their first two games, then won three straight, but then dropped three straight to end the week. The net result was a 3-5 week. The rough week dropped the Cubs lead back down to 5½ games. The Mets were the trailing team. From June 3 until the end of the year, the Cubs and Mets occupied the top two spots in the division.
Week 13 Hitter Feature: Jim Qualls
Jim was signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1964. The switch hitter reached the majors with the Cubs in 1969 at the age of 22. In April, he played in six games, five of them off of the bench. He did get one start, going hitless in four at bats while playing second base. After that, he was sent back to the minors. He didn’t return to the majors until June 9. Once again, he got a start at second on June 10. He played sparingly until July 1 when he was given a start in center field. He appeared in 22 games in July, starting 19 of them. He had a .278/.303/.417 line over those games in 76 plate appearances. Don Young had been the team’s regular center fielder. He played in seven of them, all starts. So he was healthy. Qualls just got a long look in center.
Qualls is best known for his one-out single in the top of the ninth inning in a game we’ll cover next time to break up a no-hit bid by Tom Seaver. That was one of many near misses during an 8,019-game streak by the Mets of not throwing a no-hitter that ended on June 1, 2012 when Johan Santana finally accomplished the feat for the Mets. For those counting, the Mets haven’t had one since, though the current seven year streak pales in comparison to the 50 years it took them to get their first one.
That becomes more interesting because Qualls only made a total of 124 plate appearances for the season. So he was a mostly everyday player for a month, but was rarely used otherwise and spent time bouncing back to the minors. But that becomes even more interesting because the Cubs traded Qualls after the season (to the Expos for Garry Jestadt). Qualls played in nine games with the Expos in 70 getting exactly nine plate appearances. In 1972, after having been traded to the White Sox, Qualls played in 11 games, getting 11 plate appearances. Qualls had just one hit, one run, one RBI and one sacrifice bunt outside of a Cub uniform. But for that one month in July, he got regular playing time.
Qualls played in nine minor league seasons, stretching from 1964 through 1972. He had 2,667 career minor league plate appearances with a .669 OPS. He also played two seasons in Japan at the end of his career. There he had a .631 OPS in 651 PA. He never showed much power. He did occasionally flash some speed, stealing 94 bases across all levels, but being caught 55 times.
Week 13 Pitcher Feature: Dave Lemonds
Lemonds was another ‘69 Cubs cameo, but his was even shorter. Lemonds was originally drafted in 1966 by the Giants, but did not sign. The Cubs drafted him with the first pick in the June 1968 secondary draft. The lefty reached the majors in 1969 for the first time on June 30 when he started and lost against the Expos. He threw two decent innings later in the week against the Cardinals and that was the extent of his Cubs career. 4⅔ innings, 5 hits, two walks, two runs, no strikeouts.
The Cubs traded him after the season along with Pat Jacquez and Roe Skidmore for Ossie Blanco and Jose Ortiz. In 1972, Lemonds resurfaced in the majors with the Sox. He had a 4-7 record despite a nice looking 2.95 ERA (3.00 FIP). He pitched in 31 games, 18 of them starts. In 1973-74, he pitched in the minors for the White Sox, going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in seven relief appearances covering eight innings and then that was it for him at the age of 24.
Looking Ahead: Speaking of the Mets, the Cubs will finish the road trip started in week 13 by going to New York for three games with the second place Mets. The Cubs had their top three starters lined up for the series in Jenkins, Holtzman and Hands. The Mets also had their top three in Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver and Gery Gentry.
The schedule finally lightened up ever so slightly for the Cubs in week 14. They had a Monday off day and then “only” played seven games for the week (after a string of three straight eight game weeks). The final four games of the week will be at home against the Phillies. The Phillies were in a down year, losing 99 games on the season.