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Today in Cubs history: A popup hits Aramis Ramirez in the head

Watch baseball long enough and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Let’s hope we never see this again.

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The Cubs began May 2006 with a 13-10 record, although pretty much everyone knew it was going to be tough to keep winning after Rafael Furcal collided with Derrek Lee in an April game in Los Angeles, breaking D-Lee’s wrist.

These fears proved true. The Cubs went 7-22 in May 2006 (and 9-18 in June, for a 16-40 run that's been exceeded in its badness over a 56-game span in a single season in club history only three times, in 1999, 2000 and 2021), and this wacky 13-12, 11-inning loss to the Braves sums up the month and the season quite well.

They entered the May 26 game having lost three straight, six of seven and 18 of 22. The afternoon included the first (and only) major-league start by one-time top Cubs prospect Jae-Kuk Ryu (he faced 11 batters, four of whom hit home runs), a fan running on the field, a four-run Cubs rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game (with runs driven in by Cubs fan “favorites” Ronny Cedeno, Neifi Perez and Freddie Bynum and then, as recapped by Toni Ginnetti in the Sun-Times:

... a routine pop-up by Ryan Langerhans that should have landed in Aramis Ramirez’s glove. But the ball plunked Ramirez on the head and fell to the ground as Langerhans reached second base, leading to the winning run on Marcus Giles’ single to right field.

”What can I say?” a contrite Ramirez said. “I missed it. No excuses. I feel bad because we had a pretty good day.”

We have video!

The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the last of the 11th and someone named Ken Ray, of whom I have absolutely no recollection, posted one of his five career MLB saves.

Ramirez called it a “pretty good day” in that recap but I don’t know if that truly describes a game in which the wind was blowing out, and eight home runs were hit — all by the visiting Braves. The eight home runs allowed by the Cubs is a franchise record that was matched again later that season, in this June 18, 2006 game against the Tigers.

Yes, the Cubs somehow managed to score 12 runs while having only three extra-base hits (two doubles and a triple) among their 16 hits, but lost because a popup hit a fielder in the head. That one comes under the category of: “Watch baseball long enough and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.” Let’s hope we never see it again.

Incidentally, you’ll notice in the video clip that the Cubs don’t have names on the backs of their jerseys. That was a decision made by the team in 2005 to go back to the “traditional” no-name look. What the team discovered was that it cut into replica jersey sales, because no one wanted to buy an official jersey with just a number on the back. The names returned in 2007.

The incident where Aramis Ramirez was hit in the head with a pop fly happened 16 years ago today, Sunday, May 28, 2006.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an updated version of an article that ran in 2014 here in the A Day in Wrigley Field History series.