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Cubs historical sleuthing: Fergie Jenkins baserunning edition

Here’s a side of Fergie you don’t often see.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

During Fergie Jenkins’ first tenure with the Cubs, he was known as a pretty good hitter. In 1971, the year he won the NL Cy Young Award, he hit .243/.282/.478 (28-for-115) with six home runs. That’s still the franchise record for home runs by a pitcher (tied by Carlos Zambrano in 2006). Fergie put up 1.7 bWAR as a hitter that year.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m pro-DH so why am I promoting a pitcher batting? Well, it was nearly 50 years ago and Fergie, even among his pitching teammates, was an exception. Bill Hands, Fergie’s contemporary with the Cubs, was a notoriously awful hitter, with a career slash line of .078/.150/.091 (37-for-472) with 249 strikeouts.

Anyway, here we have a photo of Fergie trying to score against the Padres... man, those yellow uniforms!

No. 28 catching for the Padres is Pat Corrales, later a big-league manager. Corrales caught for San Diego in 1972 and 1973.

Fergie Jenkins started three games against the Padres at Wrigley Field those two years. In two of the three starts, he went 0-for-2 and didn’t reach base at all, so it was easy to quickly eliminate those games.

The other game happened Wednesday, June 14, 1972. Ron Santo led off the bottom of the second inning with a single. One out later, Fergie singled Santo to second — yes, Santo batted seventh that day. Don Kessinger followed with a double. Santo scored, but Jenkins was thrown out at the plate.

That’s the photo you’re looking at here. 12,171 saw the Cubs win the game 12-9. Santo, Billy Williams and Jose Cardenal homered. Jenkins threw six innings that afternoon and allowed 11 hits and seven runs — and got the win. Try doing that in 2020.