In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the concept, which was first to list all the walkoff wins by the Cubs since 1916 (as far back as baseball-reference has walkoff data), then to note that I’d be splitting this up into three subsequent articles.
A note: This series is limited to regular-season games only.
Here, then, are all the walkoff wins since 1916 that the Cubs have had against the “original” pre-expansion National League teams:
I find the differences here fascinating. The Dodgers have been among the NL’s best teams since the 1940s, yet the Cubs have walked them off more often than any of the others. And the Pirates have had decades of badness, the 1950s, then the 1980s through the 2000s, but they have been walked off the fewest times of any of these. The latter might be due to that poor Pirates play — perhaps the Cubs won more blowouts. I do know that for many years in the 1970s, the Cubs didn’t win many against Pittsburgh at all.
Here’s what I consider the most memorable walkoff win against each of the original NL ballclubs, along with a few honorable mentions.
Dodgers: September 25, 1968
I only wish this one had video, it would be legendary.
It was a meaningless late-September game attended by just 2,657.
Through eight innings, Dodger righthander Bill Singer was working on a one-hitter. Billy Williams had singled with one out in the fourth; apart from a couple of walks and Ernie Banks reaching on a dropped third strike, that was it for the Cubs offense.
LA and Singer took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Willie Smith led off with a walk and Williams doubled him to third. Dick Nen — a former Dodger who had replaced Banks at first base after Ernie was lifted for a pinch-runner earlier — was given an intentional walk to load the bases.
Ron Santo was the next hitter; he hit a walkoff grand slam.
This is the game in which Santo is said to have gone up to bat with blurred vision due to his diabetes. He later said he saw “three baseballs, and swung at the middle one.”
Giants: August 31, 1932
We have had several articles about this game previously at BCB; here is the most recent such article, by Mike Bojanowski, from last June.
Short version: Kiki Cuyler tied the game with a two-out single in the ninth, then after the Giants scored four in the top of the 10th, the Cubs came back with five, ending with a three-run walkoff homer by Cuyler. Before Gabby Hartnett’s “Homer in the Gloamin’” it was the most famous home run in Cubs history; now, it’s nearly forgotten.
Beyond that, there had been a partial eclipse of the sun visible in Chicago about an hour and a half before game time. It was quite the memorable afternoon; Bill Veeck, who saw thousands of games in Chicago in his lifetime, said it was the greatest he ever saw in person.
Honorable mention: Les Lancaster’s walkoff single in the 11th inning, July 20, 1989.
Phillies: April 8, 1969
This is perhaps the most famous Opening Day in Cubs history. I wrote about this one on its 50th anniversary in 2019; for the full story go to that link.
Here’s the game-winning homer by Willie Smith:
Honorable mention: Jason Heyward’s walkoff grand slam June 6, 2018.
Reds: July 28, 1977
There are quite a few I could have chosen for the Reds, including this back-to-back homer walkoff April 16, 2004, but the 1977 game had everything: 11 home runs (still the NL record for one game by both teams), several lead changes, both teams scoring in the 12th inning, Bobby Murcer and Jose Cardenal having to play shortstop and second base because the Cubs had run out of infielders, and Rick Reuschel scoring the winning run in the 13th:
You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Jack Brickhouse yell, “Ooo-eee!”
My dad was in the hospital on this day. He told me you could hear cheering up and down the entire corridor.
Many say the 23-22 game vs. the Phillies was more memorable than this one. I’d choose this one, I think, it had quite a few interesting twists, plus the Cubs won.
Braves: April 15, 1961
Unless your Cubs fandom goes back even farther than mine, you have probably never heard of Al Heist.
Heist was a journeyman outfielder who had spent 10 years in the minor leagues before he came to the Cubs in 1960 to play 41 mostly unmemorable games.
But on this April day at Wrigley Field, Heist came to bat with the bases loaded in a 5-5 tie and hit a walkoff grand slam. It was one of only eight home runs he hit in a 177-game MLB career, and his only walkoff.
It was also the second consecutive day the Cubs had walked off the Braves with a home run. Sammy Taylor had done it with the Cubs trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning April 14; his two-run blast won it.
That was about the end of Cubs excitement in 1961. They were 2-2 after those walkoffs; they proceeded to lose 24 of their next 34 games and ended up 64-90, in seventh place in that final year of the old eight-team National League, the fifth year of the previous eight that they had lost at least 90 games.
Honorable mention: Reed Johnson’s 12th-inning walkoff hit by pitch, June 12, 2008.
Cardinals: April 6, 1971
If the 1969 home opener was the most memorable in Cubs history, this one might come in a close second.
Future Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson battled to a 1-1 tie through nine innings. Jenkins threw a scoreless 10th, then with one out in the bottom of the 10th, Billy Williams won it:
That’s Jim West, who was a Cubs announcer from 1971-76, on the call. It was, in fact, the very first Cubs game West worked for WGN-TV.
Beyond all the Hall of Fame performances in that game, check out the game time: 1:58.
Honorable mention: Sammy Sosa’s two-run walkoff in the 15th inning, September 2, 2003, first game of a doubleheader.
Pirates: September 28, 1938
Here’s Mike Bojanowski’s article about this game from last spring. This is not only the most memorable walkoff game in Cubs history, it is arguably the most memorable regular-season walkoff game in major-league history. (Obviously there are some postseason walkoffs more memorable.)
If only someone had film of this one. You know, film of Babe Ruth’s supposed “called shot” surfaced decades later, perhaps one of the 34,465 in attendance at the Hartnett game took film and shoved it away in an attic for a great-grandchild to find. We can only hope.
Among more recent walkoffs against the Pirates, the 11-10 win on May 15, 2015 has to be up there. The Cubs blew a 10-5 lead and had to battle until the 12th inning for an 11-10 win on this memorable walkoff hit by Matt Szczur [VIDEO].
Part 3 of this series, featuring Cubs walkoff wins vs. NL expansion teams, will run tomorrow.