I wasn’t going to do one of these today, but this tweet from Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) inspired me. (Thanks to BCBer BVictor for posting this tweet in the comments to Cub Tracks this morning.)
Christmas Goose (Gossage).— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 25, 2022
Merry Christmas! pic.twitter.com/bCYXlMKbmz
This is fantastic video because Steve Christmas played in exactly three games as a Cub, and only one on the road.
This game was played Monday, April 28, 1986 in San Diego. Christmas, normally a catcher, started at first base that night. And, as noted, this at-bat was against Rich “Goose” Gossage — thus a “Christmas/Goose” matchup.
Gossage had entered the game in the top of the ninth with the Padres leading 3-2. He allowed a pair of singles sandwiched around a fly ball when Christmas came to bat. As you can see in the video, Goose struck out Christmas.
Fortunately for the Cubs, the next hitter, Bob Dernier, doubled to center, scoring both runners and giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Jay Baller allowed a pair of baserunners in the ninth but got Dane Iorg to pop to short for the final out and the Cubs won the game. That wasn’t a very good year for the Cubs, though, as manager Jim Frey was fired in June and they finished 70-90.
That was, in fact, Steve Christmas’ final MLB at-bat. He spent much of 1986 at Triple-A Iowa. Here’s more about Christmas’ actually pretty interesting baseball life. This is the summary of his Cubs career:
He replaced the injured Jody Davis behind the dish on April 26th. In a 4-2 loss, Christmas dropped a throw from the outfield allowing Tim Raines to score. The Wrigley Field faithful jeered him. The next day he laced a pinch-hit, game-winning, two-run double off of Jeff Reardon to win back Cubs fans. Harry Caray interviewed him after the game. He won himself a 4-inch TV. Christmas got the start at first base the day after that in San Diego. Then in Los Angeles, he heard the “pop” noise from his arm an athlete never ever wants to hear making a throw to second during infield practice. Then he met Dr. Frank Jobe. Steve Christmas would never play in a major league game again.
But this at-bat in San Diego, Christmas vs. Goose, was holiday-festive. Merry Christmas!