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Cubs historical sleuthing: Glenn Beckert edition

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The Cubs second baseman was just beginning his career.

Photo By: Charles Hoff/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Getty Images provides the following caption to this photo:

NY Mets vs Chicago Cubs. Glenn Beckert touches home plate with left hand ahead of Met Johnny Stephenson’s tag in ninth inning at Shea.

It would have been obvious this was Shea Stadium anyway, as Beckert’s clearly wearing a Cubs road uniform.

Johnny Stephenson played three years for the Mets, 1964-66 — but wore No. 19 only in 1965, so we have to look only at that season.

Stephenson started four games against the Cubs at Shea in 1965 — July 7, August 6, and a doubleheader August 8. That made things easy. The July 7 game and the August 8 doubleheader were all day games, so that leaves August 6, which was a night game.

Sure enough, in the ninth inning of that Friday, August 6, 1965 game with the Cubs leading 3-0, Beckert led off by being hit by a pitch. Don Kessinger’s infield hit advanced Beckert to second, and pitcher Larry Jackson was the next due hitter.

In modern baseball? Well, you’d bat for the pitcher. In 1965, though, with a 3-0 lead and just six hits allowed through eight, Cubs head coach Lou Klein let Jackson bat. He popped up. Jimmy Stewart was the next hitter. He hit a ground ball to first. There must have been a contact play on, because Beckert broke for the plate and as you can see, was safe. Kessinger, meanwhile, was thrown out trying to take third.

It’s a good thing the Cubs did score that extra run, because the first three hitters in the bottom of the ninth hit a double, single and three-run homer off Jackson. Ted Abernathy was then summoned and he retired the next three Mets in order to preserve a 4-3 win. It was Abernathy’s 23rd save of the season; saves were still unofficial then (they wouldn’t become an official stat until 1969) but Abernathy posted 31 of them, at the time a MLB record. His 1965 season produced 3.2 bWAR, a lot for a relief pitcher.

Beckert was a rookie in 1965; he hit just .239/.275/.298 in 154 games. That kind of offense would get you sent back to the minors today, but in 1965 middle infielders weren’t supposed to provide a big bat as long as they were good defensively, which Beckert was.

Just another little slice of mid-1960s Cubs baseball.