This one wasn’t against a team as good — instead, it was the mediocre Padres — but the Cubs thrilled Wrigley fans again after blowing a lead.
By this time in the season the Cubs were firmly entrenched in last place in the NL East. They spotted the Padres a 4-0 first-inning lead, but came back with a two-run second and four of their own in the third to lead 6-4.
That lasted about five minutes, as the Padres scored a pair off Mike Krukow in the fourth to tie the game.
That’s where it stayed until the ninth, when Gene Tenace’s RBI single gave San Diego a 7-6 lead.
Jerry Martin led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, but the next two Cubs were routine outs. Ken Henderson walked, putting the potential tying and winning runs on base. Mike Tyson ran for Henderson.
That brought up Cliff Johnson. Tribune writer Dave Nightengale picks up the story:
The past week had been a pretty quiet one at the plate for Cliff, since his game-winning grand slam in Montreal on July 12. But the lack of results was not from lack of effort.
But, just for the heck of it, Johnson decided he would improve his odds — by kissing his bat before he stepped to the plate!
Then, with the count 2-2, he hit a slow curve down the left-field line and into the corner. “I wasn’t trying to guess the pitch,” Cliff said.
Martin scored easily with the tying run; pinch-runner Tyson kicked his wheels into overdrive. And Johnson (who received credit for a double on the hit) stopped short of second base and waved his arms in an effort to exhort Tyson. “That’s called pulling for your teammates,” Cliff said.
Kissing his bat. Shades of Yasiel Puig, several decades earlier.
It’s too bad the NL didn’t have the designated hitter at that time, because Johnson was ill-suited to playing defense (he played first base that afternoon). The Cubs traded him to the Athletics for no one you’ve ever heard of and later, he put together several very good years as a DH for the Blue Jays from 1983-86.
Again, the walkoff win didn’t spur the 1980 Cubs on to further victories. They lost 16 of their next 24. 1980 stands, though, as the only year of the 10 games I am writing up in this series where there were two walkoff wins of this type.
Here is Mike Bojanowski’s scorecard and ticket from this game. The ticket, in particular, is a relic of another era. Click here for a larger version of the scorecard image.