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Cubs historical sleuthing: Out at the plate edition

Thanks to Getty Images, we have quite a detailed description of this play.

Bettmann Archive

This is a pretty good action photo from back in the day, and Getty Images provided this very detailed description of what happened:

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Manny Mota slides into home plate but is called out by umpire Shag Crawford, as Chicago Cubs’ catcher Randy Hundley puts the tag on him in the eighth inning of the Cubs-Pirates opus here August 21. The play began when Mota became too ambitious on his single to center field. The throw from the outfield went to the Cubs’ first baseman Ernie Banks, in an effort to trap Mota at first. Mota, however, rounded first without even pausing. Banks’ throw to second went into left field for an error, and Mota tried to score.

You don’t often see a baseball game described as an “opus,” but here we are.

This didn’t take much research, as the date of the game is given, though not the year.

This game happened August 21, 1966 at Wrigley Field. It’s too bad we don’t have video surviving from that era, because this sounds like quite the play, eventually winding up in an out for the Cubs.

The rest of the game didn’t go well for our favorite team. They lost 8-1, the only run coming on a home run by Billy Williams.

There’s one other interesting note about this game: Future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was the losing pitcher. Per Roberts’ SABR biography, he had been signed by the Cubs to serve as a temporary pitching coach, replacing Fred Fitzsimmons, who had left the team with an illness, as well as pitch. After this game, Roberts pitched just twice more. Per the bio:

The Cubs asked Roberts to come back in 1967 strictly as the pitching coach. Roberts, however, wasn’t convinced that he was finished as a pitcher and didn’t want all the travel away from his family if he were just coaching. As a result, he was released by the Cubs on October 4, 1966.

The 1966 Cubs, losers of 103 games, thus had five future Hall of Famers as players: Williams, Roberts, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins.

This play at the plate was just another little slice of Cubs history from the 1960s.