EDITOR’S NOTE: With the completion of my series on Cubs walkoff home runs, I’ll be filling this space with various looks into Cubs history and other things regarding our favorite team. Thanks to those who have sent sleuthing photos, I will get to all of them (send more if you have them!), and also thanks to those who have sent ideas for articles, greatly appreciated.
Hitting for the cycle (a single, double, triple and home run in the same game) is a fairly rare event in baseball. Through the 2019 season there have been 330 cycles. The first one was by Curry Foley of Buffalo, then an N.L. franchise, in 1882. The number of cycles has roughly tracked the number of no-hitters through MLB history, though cycles have recently taken a “lead.” There have been 303 no-hitters, but since 2015 there have been 25 cycles and 16 no-hitters.
Of the 330 cycles, just 11 have been by members of the Chicago National League Ball Club, and none since Mark Grace’s in 1993, 27 years ago.
Here are the details of all 11 cycles by Chicago N.L. players, with boxscore links for all but the first two.
July 28, 1888: Jimmy Ryan vs. Detroit Wolverines. Yes, there was actually a MLB team called the Detroit Wolverines; they were in the league for eight years, 1881-88, before folding. Ryan went 5-for-5 with two triples, and the Cubs (then known as the “White Stockings”) beat the Wolverines 21-17. Here are some details about the game, during which Ryan played center field — and pitcher!
July 1, 1891: Jimmy Ryan vs. Cleveland Spiders. The Chicago N.L. team, by then known as the “Colts,” defeated the Spiders 9-3. The Tribune reported on Ryan’s cycle in the florid prose of the day:
The day was one continual and lovely picnic for Jimmy Ryan. He went to the bat five times and only one chance for a hit escaped. He commenced with a screaming single in the first; this he followed with a home run over the left field wall; then he retrograded some, and his next effort was only a three-bagger. He wound up finally with a drive for two bases.
They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, that’s for sure. Ryan went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, and is the only Cub to cycle twice.
June 23, 1930: Hack Wilson vs. Philadelphia Phillies. 1930 was a hitters’ season (the entire N.L. hit over .300), and Wilson set league records of 56 home runs and 191 RBI (the latter will likely stand forever). In this game, Wilson had five hits: two singles, a double, a triple and a home run. He had five RBI as the Cubs won 21-8 at Wrigley Field.
June 28, 1950: Roy Smalley vs. St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs were actually over .500 at 30-29 after this 15-3 win over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, where Smalley went 4-for-5 with four RBI. The rest of the year didn’t go so well, as the team lost 89 games.
July 2, 1957: Lee Walls vs. Cincinnati Redlegs. This is one of only two games the Cubs lost in which a player hit for the cycle. Walls went 4-for-5 with four RBI but the Cubs were defeated 8-6 in 10 innings. Walls hit only six home runs in 1957. (In case you don’t know, the Reds franchise was known as “Redlegs” from 1954-58 because the cultural connotation of “Reds” in that era was a negative one.)
July 17, 1966, second game: Billy Williams vs. St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs had lost the first game of this twin bill, but Billy’s 4-for-4 game helped them win Game 2, 7-2. It’s the most recent time a Cub hit for the cycle on the road, and it was just the 31st game in Busch Stadium II, which had opened earlier that year.
August 11, 1966, first game: Randy Hundley vs. Houston Astros. Just 25 days after Williams’ cycle, his teammate did it at Wrigley Field. Hundley’s eighth-inning homer tied the game 8-8 and then Randy completed his cycle with a 10th-inning single, after which he scored the winning run.
April 22, 1980: Iván DeJesús vs. St. Louis Cardinals. This famous game ended with a walkoff grand slam by Barry Foote so DeJesús’ cycle was kind of lost in the shuffle. I wrote more about this game in the Day in Wrigley Field History series here in 2014.
DeJesús homered in the first, doubled in the third, singled in the fourth and tripled in the fifth — a cycle in the first five innings! He added a fifth hit, a single, in the seventh. Here are all five of Ivan’s hits that afternoon [VIDEO].
April 29, 1987: Andre Dawson vs. San Francisco Giants. Dawson, in the middle of an incredible hot streak that would see him hit .480/.527/1.000 in a 12-game stretch (24-for-50 with six doubles, a triple and six home runs), went 5-for-5 to lead the Cubs to an 8-4 win.
May 9, 1993: Mark Grace vs. San Diego Padres. Grace completed his cycle with a three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth. That pulled the Cubs to within one run, but Ryne Sandberg lined out to shortstop to end the game with a 5-4 Cubs defeat.
Here are all four of Grace’s hits [VIDEO]. It appears to be the Padres announcers on the call.