Once again, this is a low-offense era, a the Cubs, apart from the last year in this five-year span, were a bad team.
So there are only five walkoff homers in the first five seasons of the 1980s, and the first one is from a game that should have been well-remembered. It’s not, probably because it came early in a 98-loss season.
April 22, 1980: The Cubs trailed 3-1, 6-2 and 12-6 before some furious rallies brought them within one going into the last of the eighth. Barry Foote homered to tie the game 12-12. A single and a pair of walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Foote came up again [VIDEO].
Foote’s grand slam won the game 16-12. I was at this game and because (as you can see) the ball was played by Cardinals right fielder George Hendrick, I originally had thought it was just a game-winning single. But it did bounce in and out of the bleachers for a walkoff slam. The Cubs had a 6-3 record and people ran out of Wrigley that day like they had won the World Series. Obviously, that didn’t happen and the 98-loss year was the fourth-worst in franchise history.
It was 92 degrees that day in Chicago. To this day that’s still the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Chicago in April.
May 28, 1980: Or, more correctly, August 8, 1980, because this game was suspended due to darkness in the top of the 11th with the score tied 3-3. Both teams pushed a run across in the 12th, and then with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th, Cliff Johnson hit a walkoff grand slam for an 8-4 win over the Expos.
Johnson wasn’t even on the Cubs when this game began — he was acquired from the Indians in a trade for Karl Pagel (once a top prospect, he never made it) on June 23.
Johnson was a terrible player for the Cubs to acquire. He could not play defense; at one time he was a catcher, but couldn’t really do that anymore. The Cubs already had a first baseman in Bill Buckner, so they tried Johnson in left field, where it can charitably be said that he was awful.
If the N.L. had the DH back then, Johnson would have been a great fit. At the end of the 1980 season he was traded to the Blue Jays for no one you’ve ever heard of and went on to have a few good years as a DH in Toronto, going 7-for-19 for them in the 1985 ALCS.
August 26, 1981: Nearing the end of that dreadful strike-interrupted season, the Cubs and the equally-bad Padres faced each other at Wrigley. The Cubs trailed 5-2 and 7-6 before tying the game in the bottom of the eighth. With two out in the last of the ninth, Jody Davis singled and Steve Dillard homered for a 9-7 victory. It was the last of Dillard’s 13 career home runs (in 438 career games).
May 9, 1982: The Cubs and Astros had matched single runs in the first and a two-spot in the fourth. With the game tied 3-3 in the last of the ninth and two out and two runners on, Jody Davis homered for the 6-3 walkoff win.
July 12, 1984: This game against the Dodgers went 2-2 into extra innings. Ryne Sandberg led off the bottom of the 10th with a walkoff homer for a 3-2 victory. It was the only walkoff home run of Sandberg’s career.
Oh, you were thinking of the famous Sandberg Game of June 23, 1984? Sandberg hit two game-tying home runs in that one, but the walkoff hit in the 11th inning was a bases-loaded single by Dave Owen.