Yesterday, I completed a series on the 10 worst losses in Cubs history. Those were interesting to read about, though a bit depressing. All of those losses were by 17 or more runs.
Today, I’m beginning a companion series that should be much more entertaining. Since 1904 (the baseball-reference era), the Cubs have won 11 games by 17 or more runs. That’s already a win — one more win by that margin than there were losses. Like the other series, this one will sequence in order by run differential — the biggest one will come last.
In 1925, the Cubs had finished last in the National League with a 68-86 record. It was the franchise’s first-ever last-place finish, in their 50th season. They went through three managers and after the season, owner William Wrigley hired Joe McCarthy, who had been successful managing the minor-league team in Louisville.
The 1926 Cubs didn’t get off to a great start. They were 4-4 entering this late April game against the Reds at what was then known as Cubs Park (it would be named Wrigley Field the following year).
Charlie Root took the mound against Carl Mays. Mays had been successful with the Red Sox and Yankees, but also had a bad reputation for throwing at hitters, and a pitch he threw in 1920 killed Cleveland’s Ray Chapman. (There’s a real good book about that incident called “The Pitch That Killed” that’s worth reading.)
The Cubs’ bats pounded Mays hard. The Cubs led 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth when three hits led to two more runs, prompting Mays’ removal. The charmingly-named Pea Ridge Day entered and the Cubs hit him hard too, scoring five more runs in the inning. They would add six more in the eighth and win the game 18-1. The Cubs did all of that without a single home run, though their 22 hits would include seven doubles and a triple. Charlie Grimm had four hits and four RBI and Hack Wilson also drove in four runs.
The Cubs almost RHOOTL’d* Day. He made just one more appearance for the Reds in 1926 and then spent the rest of that year and the next four in the minor leagues before briefly resurfacing in 1931 with the Dodgers.
The 1926 Cubs under McCarthy improved by 14 wins and the 82-win club finished fourth, presaging the pennant that was to come in 1929.
* RHOOTL = Ran Him Out Of The League, if you are not familiar with the BCB terminology.