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Cubs historical sleuthing: Another view of 1966 spring training

There’s a surprisingly large number of photos from the one year of camp at Long Beach.

Photo by Art Rickerby/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The caption supplied by Getty Images for this photo reads:

Chicago Cubs manager Leo Durocher watching players from outside a batting cage

Well, yes, that’s what Leo is doing, but he’s off in the background and the main subject of this photo is No. 20, a lefthanded hitter.

This one’s pretty simple. That’s Ty Cline, an outfielder the Cubs picked up from the Braves in November 1965 in the Rule 5 draft. There must have been different rules for that draft back then, because Cline had played in 433 MLB games and had over 1,000 plate appearances in the big leagues from 1960-65 with the Indians and Braves.

He’d actually been pretty good as a backup outfielder in 1964, hitting .302/.359/.397 (35-for-116) for 1.5 bWAR. He regressed in ‘65, hitting just .191/.246/.241 (42-for-220). Yikes, even in the pitcher-friendly 1960s, a .487 OPS in that many at-bats is pretty bad.

So he came to spring training with the Cubs in ‘66, made the team out of spring training, and played exactly seven games as a Chicago Cub before he was ... well, I’m not sure. Cline went 5-for-5 in a 9-4 win over the Giants April 14 in San Francisco, then started just one more game and didn’t play... anywhere, as far as I can tell, after April 26 until he was sold back to the Braves July 26. There’s no indication in any article in the Tribune archive that he was injured, and he didn’t play in the minors that year except for Triple-A Richmond, the Braves affiliate.

Yet another guy, I suspect, who got on Durocher’s bad side and just ... stopped playing. Durocher’s doghouse wasn’t a good place to be in his time with the Cubs, and he wound up tossing aside players who could have been useful. Cline eventually moved on to the Giants, where he had a 1.1 bWAR year in 1967, and the Expos, for whom he posted 1.2 bWAR in 1969.