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Today in Cubs history: Leon Durham walks it off

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A long-ago walkoff home run is worth noting. Let’s remember a guy!

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The 1986 Cubs weren’t a very good team. Any thought that they could recapture the 1984 magic departed after a 14-24 start put them 12½ games out of first place May 22. By mid-June Jim Frey had been fired as manager and replaced by Gene “Stick” Michael, the longtime Yankees manager and executive who always seemed a bit out of place in Chicago.

They played a bit better after that, going 15-11 in July, but an 11-20 August put the ‘86 Cubs in the position the team is now — postseason spoiler.

That wasn’t even the case when they met the Phillies at Wrigley Field September 9, 1986 in front of just 8,785 at Wrigley Field, an accurate count back in the day when the actual turnstile count was the number announced. (That didn’t change for NL teams until 1993.)

Jamie Moyer, then in his rookie year, made the start and promptly got pounded by Phillies hitters. He allowed eight hits and six runs, including homers by Mike Schmidt (one of 50 he hit in his career at Wrigley Field) and Luis Aguayo.

The Cubs trailed 6-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. But the Cubs got a solo homer from Keith Moreland and a three-run shot by Rafael Palmeiro (his first MLB home run in just his second MLB game!) to make it 6-5.

Ryne Sandberg tied the game 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single that scored Dave Martinez, who had tripled with one out.

The Cubs got one-out singles from Bob Dernier and Chris Speier in the bottom of the ninth, putting the winning run in scoring position. But Chico Walker hit a popup to short and Dernier was doubled off second base to end the inning and send the game to extras.

Moreland singled with one out in the bottom of the 10th and that brought up Leon Durham [VIDEO].

Durham’s walkoff homer in front of the remnants of that small crowd was one of the highlights of a dismal 90-loss Cubs season. (Check out the giant inflatable beer can replica on the rooftop across from the left-field bleachers at the beginning of that video, too.)

It happened 35 years ago today, September 9, 1986.