The 1988 Cubs finished 77-85, in fourth place and 24 games behind the division winning New York Mets. Somehow, those Cubs had five All-Stars despite being a fairly pedestrian team. Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg were elected as starters. Vance Law, Shawon Dunston and Greg Maddux were all picked as reserves. Maddux was on his way his first big season, so that one makes sense. It’s hard to imagine Dunston and Law as All-Stars in modern baseball unless they were elected by the fans as starters.
1988 was the first season under Don Zimmer. 1989 looked to be a transition year as the team was largely populated by youngsters with a handful of veteran holdovers, a handful of whom played on the 1984 division winning team. 1989 was also the first full season with night games at Wrigley Field. Somehow, someway 1989 didn’t follow the script.
Join me if you will and let’s travel back to 1989 and relive one of the really fun seasons in Cubs history. Each part of this season will look at one week of the season. The focus, as always, will be looking through the lens of Heroes and Goats. But I’ll also give you a brief recap of every game and track the division standings.
Game 1, April 4: Cubs 5, Phillies 4 (1-0)
Rick Sutcliffe got the opening day start. He lasted 5⅔ innings and allowed three runs. He was the winner behind good offensive support. The Cubs scored a run in the third, two in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth. The Cubs led 3-0 after four, 4-1 after five, and 5-3 after six.
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt homered off Calvin Schiraldi leading off the eighth inning to cut the lead to one. One out later, Mitch Williams entered the game looking to record five outs and pick up his first save. He retired the first batter he faced, then walked two batters before getting out of the inning. The Cubs threatened in their half of the eighth, but Shawon Dunston got caught stealing with runners on first and third and only one out.
Ex-Cub Bob Dernier led off the ninth with a single, Tom Herr followed with another and Von Hayes then loaded the bases with a third single. Mitch Williams then struck out Schmidt, Chris James and Mark Ryal in one of the more memorable finishes of the 1989 season.
- Superhero: Mitch Williams (.227). 1⅔ IP, 3H, 2BB, 0R, 3K (SV 1)
- Hero: Rick Sutcliffe (.155). 5⅔ IP, 5H, 3BB, 3R, 4K (W 1-0)
- Sidekick: Ryne Sandberg (.113). 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
- Billy Goat: Steve Wilson (-.170). 0IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
- Goat: Mitch Webster (-.106). 1-4, DP
- Kid: Shawon Dunston (-.047). 0-4, BB, R, 2K
Game 2, April 5: Phillies 12 at Cubs 4 (1-1)
Greg Maddux took the ball in game two. Early on, things looked good with the Cubs jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one. But the Phillies tied the game with single runs in the second and third inning. Then they batted around in the fourth, plating seven runs, effectively ending the game. Mike Maddux threw four scoreless innings for the Phillies to earn a save while his brother picked up the loss. Mike Schmidt homered for the second time in as many games.
- Superhero: Mitch Webster (.078). 0-2, 2BB, 1R
- Hero: Jerome Walton (.055). 1-4, R, K
- Sidekick: Joe Girardi (.024). 2-3, RBI
- Billy Goat: Greg Maddux (-.360). 3⅔ IP, 7H, 1BB, 6R(5ER), 1K (L 0-1)
- Goat: Jeff Pico (-.163). ⅓ IP, 3H, 0BB, 3R, 1K
- Kid: Pat Perry (-.027). 3⅔ IP, 4H, 5BB, 3R, 3K
Game 3, April 6: Phillies 8 at Cubs 3 (1-2)
Newcomer Paul Kilgus got the start in game three. The Phillies ambushed him with four runs in the top of the first and this game was never close. The Phillies added three more in the seventh and led 7-1 after seven.
- Superhero: Shawon Dunston (.043). 1-3, K, SB
- Hero: Jerome Walton (.010). 1-4, HR, R, RBI
- Sidekick: Gary Varsho (.008). 1-1
- Billy Goat: Paul Kilgus (-.271). 7 IP, 10H, 4BB, 7R(3ER), 2K
- Goat: Joe Girardi (-.059). 0-2, K
- Kid: Andre Dawson (-.054). 0-4
Game 4, April 7: Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (2-2)
Scott Sanderson started the fourth game of the year. The Cubs offense put four on the board in the bottom of the second to stake him a sizable lead. The lead turned out to not be insurmountable though. Part of the Pirates comeback was aided by the Cubs defense. The Pirates scored three in the fourth, one of which had reached on a catcher’s interference. Two more scored following an error in the sixth. The Cubs bounced right back with two in the bottom of the inning though and then held on for the win.
- Superhero: Mark Grace (.220). 2-3, 2BB, 2B, R, RBI
- Hero: Calvin Schiraldi (.215). 2IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
- Sidekick: Mitch Webster (.201). 4-5, 3B, R, RBI
- Billy Goat: Scott Sanderson (-.157). 5⅓ IP, 4H, 0BB, 5R(2ER), 5K
- Goat: Curtis Wilkerson (-.121). 1-5
- Kid: Steve Wilson (-.106). ⅔ IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 0K (W 1-0)
- Sidekick: Ryne Sandberg (-.097). 1-5
Game 5, April 8: Cubs 5, Pirates 3 (3-2)
Mike Bielecki made his first start of the year against a team he used to pitch for. It got off to a rocky start with the Pirates jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second. But the Cubs bounced back with three of their own in the fourth. They added single runs in the sixth and seventh sandwiched around a Pirates run in the seventh.
- Superhero: Domingo Ramos (.226). 1-4, HR, R, 2RBI, K
- Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.167). 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
- Sidekick: Calvin Schiraldi (.147). 2IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 1K (SV 1)
- Billy Goat: Andre Dawson (-.091). 0-4, R, K
- Goat: Curtis Wilkerson (-.067). 0-3, K
- Kid: Mark Grace (-.045). 0-3
Game 6, April 9: Cubs 8, Pirates 3 (4-2)
The Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Pirates behind a complete game from Rick Sutcliffe. The Pirates had the early lead with a run in the top of the first but the Cubs plated four in the bottom of the inning and never looked back. They added three more in the sixth and Sutcliffe went the distance for his second win of the week.
- Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.128). 9IP, 7H, 0BB, 3R, 11K
- Hero: Mark Grace (.119). 1-4, BB, R, 2RBI
- Sidekick: Mitch Webster (.106). 1-3, 2BB, R, SB
- Billy Goat: Andre Dawson (-.057). 1-5, 2B, R, RBI
- Goat: Curtis Wilkerson (-.044). 0-3, SF, RBI, K
- Kid: Rick Wrona (-.027). 1-4
The Cubs completed the first week of the season with four wins and two losses. That was good for a first place tie. The Thursday and Friday games drew a total of about 12,500 fans. The opener drew just north of 33,000 but none of the others drew more than 20,000. The Saturday game was completed in two hours and 23 minutes. Four of the six games that week were played in under three hours. Those were very different times.
1989 Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Rick Sutcliffe
Rick was covered in the inaugural Historical Heroes and Goats series as he was one of the key members of the division-winning 1984 Cubs. Rick was very good as a Cub, making the All-Star team in 1987 and 1989 to go with his Cy Young in 1984. In 1987, he led the National League in wins with 18. In 1984 he led the majors with 20 wins.
Rick was the Dodgers‘ first-round pick (21st overall) in 1974. He reached the majors for the first time in 1976 with the Dodgers and was traded to the Indians in December 1981 after he and Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda clashed, with Sutcliffe at one point overturning the desk in Lasorda’s office. As you surely know, he came to the Cubs in June of 1984 in a blockbuster deal that included Joe Carter. He re-signed with the Cubs as a free agent following that season and stayed with the Cubs through 1991. He signed two deals with the Orioles and pitched there for three seasons. Rick finished his career with a cameo with the Cardinals in 1994.
In all, Rick pitched in 18 major league seasons. He had a career record of 171-139 and an ERA of 4.08. He pitched in 457 games, starting 392 of them. He completed 72 games and had 18 shutouts. He struck out 1,679 batters while walking 1,081 in 2,697⅔ innings of work. As a Cub, the Red Baron was even better. He started 190 games out of 193 appearances over eight seasons. He compiled an 82-65 record and a 3.74 ERA. He completed 40 games and threw 11 shutouts.
For today’s poll question, I pose this scenario to you. If the Cubs were opening a Cubs-only Hall of Fame, does Rick Sutcliffe make it? Eight seasons and over 1,000 innings is quite a body of work. He was part of two division winning teams, won a Cy Young and was runner up to a second, he pitched in two All-Star games. Without doing a lot of research for his comparative placing among historical Cubs pitchers, my gut says yes.
Is Rick Sutcliffe a Cubs Hall of Famer?
This poll is closed
I’d have to think about it, but probably
Consideration, but probably not