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Cubs non-homer multi-run walkoff wins: May 25, 1980

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This was a weird one.

CHICAGO, IL - 1980's: General view as the Chicago Cubs take on the Philadelphia Phillies circa 1980's at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Wrigley Field in the 1980s
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs were not a very good team in 1980, losing 98 games.

But in May, they were still close to .500 when they hosted the Dodgers in a weekend set at Wrigley Field.

The teams split the first two games of the series and the third was a matchup of two pitchers who had been Cubs teammates for several years in the 1970s, Rick Reuschel and Burt Hooton.

The Dodgers put together a run in the second inning on three singles. This was not common practice for LA in those days; they led the NL in home runs that year with 148. Sounds quaint, right? In 2019, a team that hit 148 home runs would have finished 29th of the 30 MLB teams.

Anyway, after that Reuschel shut down the Dodgers, but Hooton and reliever Bobby Castillo had been stingy with the Cubs, too. The Cubs had eight hits and three walks over the first eight innings, but could not score. They left the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Steve Howe entered for the Dodgers to save their 1-0 lead.

With one out, Tim Blackwell doubled. Blackwell, who wasn’t much of a hitter, actually had a decent year in 1980: .272/.352/.394 (87-for-320) with 16 doubles, four triples (!) and five home runs. That, plus good defense, was worth 3.0 bWAR. Only two Cubs catchers have hit more triples in a season since then: Michael Barrett (six in 2004) and Willson Contreras (five in 2018).

Anyway, Lenny Randle followed with a single, but Blackwell had to hold at third. Bill Buckner hit a fly to left, not deep enough for Blackwell to score, but Randle took second.

After that, per Cooper Rollow’s recap in the Tribune:

Randle followed Tim Blackwell home after Dodger shortstop Bill Russell threw wildly to first base on Larry Biittner’s grounder and the ball bounced off Steve Garvey’s glove.

You take ‘em any way you can get ‘em, right?

The Cubs won 2-1. Just to show you how different an era it was, just 27,226 attended a Sunday afternoon game against one of the better draws in the league.

The win did not presage better times for the Cubs, as they followed it with a long bad stretch, losing 13 of 21 and falling out of contention.