This descent continued unabated through the early 1950s. Between 1949 and 1956, an eight-season span, the Cubs lost 90 or more games four times and 89 in two other seasons. Keep in mind those were 154-game seasons; add eight more games and make that 162 as they play now, and that would certainly have been six 90-loss seasons out of eight.
1957 started out just as badly. The Cubs were 12-24 at the end of May and already 12 games out of first place. Only the awful Pirates (11-26) kept them out of the league basement.
That’s how they began a series against the Reds June 1 at Crosley Field. The Cincinnati club had gotten off to a good start; at 26-14 they entered this series in first place.
The Cubs actually led this game 1-0. Walt “Moose” Moryn scored on a throwing error.
After that it was all Reds (except for Ernie Banks tripling and scoring on a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The Reds — or more accurately, Redlegs, as they were known from 1954-59 — smashed 22 hits, including seven home runs, off four Cubs
victims pitchers: Dick Littlefield, Jim Brosnan, Tom Poholsky and Don Kaiser. Only Brosnan, among those, would go on to have a decent major-league career. In fact, several of his best years were with the Reds and he would be a key contributor to their 1961 N.L. championship team.
The Cubs pitching staff allowed 722 runs in 1957, second-worst in the league. The only worse staff? Oddly enough, the Reds, who allowed 781 while scoring 747.
The Cubs lost this game 22-2. The Tribune recap of this game was headlined “Cub Catastrophe!” and noted:
The Cincinnati Redlegs whipped the Chicago Cubs so badly this afternoon that the new electric scoreboard couldn’t record the final score.
When the Redlegs scored their 20th run, the scoreboard was out of business. The board is only wired for 19 runs.
It is one of just two games in franchise history the Cubs have lost by 20 or more runs. The story of the other one, tomorrow.