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The biggest wins in Cubs history: May 17, 1977

That year’s team was fun... for a while.

Photo by:Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

During the 1970s, we seemed to have many more warm, windy days in the spring in Chicago than we do now. That feels especially true after three straight cold and snowy Aprils.

One of those windy, warm days was May 17, 1977. The boxscore from this game says it was 86 degrees at game time with the wind at 23 miles per hour “in an unknown direction.”

Without even looking it up I can tell you what that “unknown direction” was. It doesn’t get to 86 degrees in mid-May with a 23 mile per hour wind unless that wind is blowing from the south or southwest. Which means at Wrigley Field, it was blowing out that spring afternoon, and the Cubs definitely took advantage.

They actually spotted the Padres a 2-0 lead in this game before they began pounding baseballs all over, and out of, the yard. Eight Cubs runs crossed the plate in the third inning, including home runs by Larry Biittner, Steve Ontiveros and Gene Clines. The Cubs added three in the fourth and then in the fifth, Biittner, Bobby Murcer and Jerry Morales smacked back-to-back-to-back home runs leading off the frame.

So it was 14-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, and the Cubs put up another eight-spot, this time without the benefit of a home run, but helped out by two San Diego errors and a wild pitch.

The last Cubs run was a home run by Dave Rosello in the bottom of the eighth. Rosello was about the weakest-hitting infielder you could imagine and hit just 10 home runs in 1,014 MLB at-bats. The wind helped him with that one.

The final score was Cubs 23, Padres 6, after reliever Ramon Hernandez allowed four runs in the eighth. Hernandez threw the last three innings and was thus awarded a save for his performance, his only one as a Cub. Hernandez had been an effective reliever for the Pirates in the early 1970s but by 1977 he was just about done. Eleven days after this game he was traded to the Red Sox for Bobby Darwin. That deal didn’t work out, either; Darwin went just 2-for-12 as a Cub before being shipped to the minors and released in August.

The Cubs haven’t scored that many runs at Wrigley since this game 43 years ago. Other details about this game from an article I wrote about it here in 2014:

The Cubs have scored 23 or more runs in a game just three times in the history of Wrigley Field — this game, a 26-23 win over the Phillies in 1922, and a 23-13 win over the Cardinals in 1954.

Seven homers in a game by the Cubs at Wrigley? Again, just three times. The other two: the second game of a DH against the Mets in 1967 and this game against the Padres in 1970. The Padres were a particular punching bag for the Cubs in their early years; in addition to those two games, there was a 19-0 win over San Diego in the Padres’ inaugural year, 1969.

This game was the only one that had both: seven Cub homers, 23 Cub runs. It’s one of only four games in major-league history where a team did both of those things. The others were in 1939, 1950 and 1955.

The seven home runs by the Cubs in that game remains the franchise record.

Last bit of trivia about this game: Exactly two years later — May 17, 1979 — was the famous 23-22 Phillies/Cubs game at Wrigley Field.