If you’re thinking the date of this game sounds familiar, it should. I wrote about it here last April on its 44th anniversary.
So I commend you to that article for details on the game, which was a typical wind-blowing-out early-season game from that era. In the 11 seasons from 1970 through 1980, there were 16 games at Wrigley Field in which both teams scored 10 or more runs:
As you can see, the Cubs weren’t very good in those games, going just 4-12. And for a comparison point, the 11 seasons from 2010-20 produced just seven such games, though with the caveat that 2020 was a shortened season. It just seems that we had quite a number of warm springs in Chicago in the 1970s — half those 16 games were in April, May and June — that we haven’t seen replicated since.
Naturally, Cubs pitching had a lot to do with it back then — but remember, we’re talking about games where both teams scored in double figures, so Cubs hitters were teeing off on the opponents, too. Even though home runs are being hit at a higher rate now than ever before, it just doesn’t seem as if they cluster in one game for both squads as they often did back then.
The one note about this 1976 game and Mike Schmidt that I specifically want to include here is this:
Mike Schmidt was known as a Cub-killer for most of his big-league career. Of his 548 career home runs, 78 were hit against the Cubs, the third-most by anyone. Willie Mays hit 92 and Hank Aaron 87, but Schmidt hit his 78 in 259 games against the Cubs, while Aaron played 340 games vs. the North Siders and Mays 347.
Schmidt’s dominance at Wrigley Field was even greater. He hit 50 homers at Wrigley in 138 games there. Only Mays had more — 54 in 179 games. By comparison, the active leader among visiting players at Wrigley is Albert Pujols, who has 29 and has likely played his last game there. Ryan Braun is next with 19.
Braun didn’t hit a homer at Wrigley in 2020 (in fact, due to injury, he played only three games there this season) and with his option recently declined by the Brewers, that might be the end of the line for him. (Those of you who enjoy booing him at Wrigley will be disappointed.) If so, after Pujols the active leader among visiting players in home runs beginning the 2021 season will be Joey Votto, with 16, followed by Matt Carpenter, who has 14. And it’s not as if those guys don’t play a lot of games at Wrigley. Schmidt played 138 games at Wrigley Field. Votto, for example, has played 105 games at the Friendly Confines, though Carpenter has hit his 14 dingers in just 81 Wrigley games.
We might be in a heyday for home runs in Major League Baseball, but fewer opponents than ever seem to be crushing multiple baseballs out of the yard at Wrigley Field.