Today, I’m starting another Cubs historical series, and the concept should be obvious from the headline. These are the games in which the most combined runs were scored by the Cubs and their opponents. I had intended for this to be a 10-part series (Top Ten, you know!), but two games tied at 32 total runs, so there will be 11 articles all told.
A couple more things about this series: First, I am running these in reverse order of the total runs scored in the games, not in order by date, so we’re going to be jumping around a bit in Cubs history. The dates range from 1922 to 1995. Second, you’re going to be reading about some losses here, because the Cubs didn’t always do well in these high-scoring affairs. Of the 11 games, the Cubs won six. Now, on to this 1935 contest.
The 1935 Cubs had hung around contention most of the year, but had never been in first place (except at 1-0 after Opening Day) heading into September. They split a doubleheader at Wrigley Field September 2 against the Reds, ending that day in third place, 2½ games behind the front-running Cardinals.
After an off day September 3, the Cubs started winning. And winning. And winning some more. On September 13, they defeated the Braves to move into a first-place tie, and the next day brought out their big bats against the Dodgers at Wrigley.
Unfortunately, so did the Dodgers. The Cubs raced out to an 8-0 lead after three innings, only to see Brooklyn chip away and make it 8-4 going into the bottom of the sixth. In that inning, though, the Cubs appeared to put the game away, scoring eight times on seven hits, four walks and an error (and they left the bases loaded). Now it’s 16-4 and seemingly an easy win, but the pesky Dodgers wouldn’t quit. They scored five times in the seventh to make it 16-9 — with starter Charlie Root still in the game! (That was pretty much standard practice in that era.)
The Cubs plated two more in the bottom of the seventh, and an 18-9 lead seemed secure, but... after the first two Dodger hitters in the ninth were retired easily, they started teeing off on Roy Henshaw. A single, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases and then Henshaw walked in a pair of runs to make it 18-11. Two singles made it 18-14 and at last, manager Charlie Grimm lifted Henshaw for Fabian Kowalik, who struck out Johnny McCarthy to end the game. Since the tying run was on deck, Kowalik was awarded a retroactive save (since “saves” didn’t exist in 1935), one of just two such retro-saves Kowalik posted in his career.
The 18-14 win, coupled with a Cardinals loss to the Giants, put the Cubs in first place — and they would stay there for the rest of the season. It was the 11th win of the streak that would eventually reach 21 games.
Of this game, Irving Vaughan of the Tribune wrote:
No heroics were unfolded as the Cubs went on to their eleventh in a row unless it was by the 13,328 individuals who took it without complaint. The Dodgers did things to prove the attachment of daffy to their trade name is not an injustice. Seven of their pitchers, at least they held that position, were shattered by 18 base hits, ten bases on balls, four errors and various blunders of commission for which there was no excuse except that the Dodgers frequently get that way.
That was, indeed, the reputation of the Dodgers in those days. Their manager was Casey Stengel, who was regarded as a buffoon in baseball when he managed the Dodgers and Braves in the 1930s and 1940s. He didn’t get his sterling reputation as a manager until he was hired by the Yankees in 1949.
One last thing about this game — the Cubs put together their 18 runs and 18 hits without the benefit of a home run. That’s something the modern-day Cubs might take a lesson from.