Top stars' last games as Cubs, Part 1

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

-- T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"


It is also how the careers of the Cubs' best players have ended.

I decided to look at the last game in a Cub uniform of the 24 men who compiled the highest WAR during their years with the team. What I found was sad.

Those 24 consist of 15 position players and 9 pitchers. The position players' WAR range from Cap Anson's 84.9, best overall, to Anthony Rizzo's 36.7, which is 24th. The pitchers' WAR range from Ferguson Jenkins' 52.9, eighth overall, to Carlos Zambrano's 37.7, which is 23rd.

All 24 played 30,313 total games as Cubs, with position players averaging 1,807 and the pitchers 366.


In all their games, position players made 29,299 hits, including 5,070 doubles, 1,041 triples and 3,142 home runs. They batted .291, with an on-base percentage of .365, a slugging average of .455 and an OPS of .820.

In their final games, they made just 9 hits, of which 3 were doubles and 1 was a homer. Their slash line was .231/.326/.385, for an OPS of .711.


In all their games, pitchers fashioned an ERA of 3.12 and a WHIP of 1.24. In their final games, their ERA was 6.23 and their WHIP 1.52.


Perhaps the saddest statistic of all is the Cubs' record in their top players' farewell appearances: 4-19-1.

The Cubs were 3-12 in the position players' last games. Two of the first 3 chronologically went out on a winning note: Cap Anson, in 1897, and Johnny Evers, in 1913. The only hitter to do so since was Mark Grace, in 2000.

Charlie Root, in 1941, was the lone pitcher whose last game was a Cubs victory. They have lost the finale of 3 top pitchers since then. The tie came in Clark Griffith's farewell, in 1900.


Following is a look at the last game as a Cub for each of the 24 leaders in WAR, in chronological order. Each player's career WAR as a Cub and rank in WAR is shown in parentheses after his name. An asterisk after the games data indicates that it was his last Major League game, too.

BILL HUTCHISON (39.3, 21st)

Date: Sept. 3, 1895

Site, opponent and score: at New York; lost, 6-3

38th game of season, 376th as Cub

Completed game, allowing 11 hits, walking 2 and striking out 2. Cubs (then known as Colts) led, 2-1, in seventh, when double and single tied score, with batter taking second on throw home. Hutchison's fielding error, single, triple and single produced 4 more runs. Transferred to Minneapolis of the Western League in 1896, he was drafted by St. Louis Browns after season and went 1-4 with 6.08 ERA in 6 games to conclude big league career.


CAP ANSON (84.2, 1st)

Date: Oct. 4, 1897

Site, opponent and score: at St. Louis; won, 7-1

114th game of season, 2,277th as Cub*

Went 0 for 3, was hit by a pitch and stole a base before game, second of doubleheader, was called due to darkness after 7 innings. In Game 1, had hit solo and 3-run homers. Cubs held 8-0 lead midway through seventh inning but lost, 10-9.

Anson had been player-manager of Cubs since 1879. Was fired and released after season. Managed Giants for 22 games in 1898.


CLARK GRIFFITH (47.2, 12th)

Date: Sept. 29, 1900

Site, opponent and score: at St. Louis; tied, 0-0 (7 innings)

30th game of season, 265th as Cub

Gave up 3 hits, walked 1, struck out 2. Cardinals stranded 3 runners in scoring position. Teams had agreed to play 6 innings, then agreed to play 1 more before darkness fell, halting play. Griffith jumped to White Sox of American League after season. Pitched for Highlanders, today's Yankees, in 1903-07, then in 1 game for Reds in 1909 and 1 in each season for Senators in 1912-14. Was player-manager in those years. Managed Senators through 1920, first season in which he also owned the team. He remained owner until 1955, when he died at age 85.


FRANK CHANCE (45.9, 13th)

Date: April 12, 1912

Site, opponent and score: at Cincinnati; lost, 3-2 (10 innings)

2nd game of season, 1,275th as Cub

Went 1 for 3 plus a walk. Walked leading off fourth and scored game's first run on 2-out single. Singled in sixth, sending runner to third with 1 out. Next batter hit into 5-4-3 double play. Popped up to shortstop leading off ninth.

Chance was ordered not to play again as result of repeated beanings. Continued as manager and Cubs finished third with record of 91-59. In November, was placed on waivers and claimed by Reds. In December, was waived by Reds and claimed by Yankees. While managing Yankees in 1913-14, played in 13 games.


JOHNNY EVERS (39.5, 20th)

Date: Oct. 5, 1913

Site, opponent and score: at home vs. Pirates; won, 5-1

136th game of season, 1,409th as Cub

Went 0 for 3 plus sacrifice bunt. Bunt came with runner on first and nobody out in first inning. Runner scored on single by next batter. Flied to left in final at bat in sixth. Was traded to Boston after season.



Date: May 22, 1916

Site, opponent and score: at home vs. Braves; lost, 7-1

7th game of season, 242nd as Cub

Gave up 13 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2 in 8.1 innings. Was presented automobile before game. "Aleck climbed into the car and had his picture shot from various angles," James Crusinberry wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "after which some expert drove the car away. Hack Wilson wanted to be the chauffeur, but Aleck was afraid he would drive it into the bleachers from force of habit. . . .

"If the weather had only been nice and if Aleck only could have been his old time self, it would have been a jubilee. But the weather was cloudy and cold, and apparently Aleck didn't have his stuff."

Surrendered 2-run triple with 2 out in fourth for game's first runs, then 2-run, 2-out single in sixth and 2-run, 1-out triple in 3-run eighth. Relieved in ninth after yielding 3 straight singles.

Performance was blamed on "lame arm" and he stayed in Chicago to rest it as team went on road trip. After rejoining team, he was suspended indefinitely on June 15.

"The decision on this drastic action was made by Boss [Joe] McCarthy tonight following an incident of the afternoon when Aleck appeared at the Phillies' ball park out of condition," the Tribune said. "McCarthy refused to let him dress for field practice or even to permit him to enter the Cubs' dressing room."

"This is the sixth time it has happened in the last nine or ten days," said McCarthy. "I absolutely refuse to allow him to disrupt our ball club and will not have him around in that condition."

Alexander was given a train ticket to return to Chicago. Six days later, June 22, he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Cardinals. Helped them to win World Series against Yankees, then went 46-27 for them over next 3 seasons. Pitched in 9 games for Phillies in 1930, then retired at age 43.



Date: Sept. 4, 1916

Site, opponent and score: at home vs. Reds; lost, 10-8

12th game of season, 346th as Cub*

Game, second of Labor Day doubleheader, was last of 22 matchups between Brown and Christy Mathewson, player-manager of Reds.

"Gone are the days when Matty and Brownie could give the greatest batsmen in the game a winning argument nine times out of ten and when shutout scores were frequent when they performed," I.E. Sanborn wrote in the Tribune. "All that is left to them of their wonderful prowess are their lion's hearts and their master minds. . . .

"The Cubs and Reds proceeded to knock a lot of things out of the deliveries of the great hurlers who faced them and still the [17,000] fans remained to the long delayed finish of a batting fest, partly because they realized it would be their last chance to Mordecai and Christy pitted against each other on a green diamond."

Both went the distance. Brown allowed a career-high 19 hits, including 4 doubles and a triple. He walked 1 and struck out 2. Mathewson yielded 15 hits, walked 1 and fanned 3.

The Reds scored in 7 of the 9 innings, but no more than 2 runs in any of the 7. The Cubs scored in 4 innings, capped by 3 runs in the ninth.

Like Brown, Mathewson never pitched another game.


JOE TINKER (45.3, 14th)

Date: Sept. 22, 1916

Site, opponent and score: at home vs. Giants; lost, 5-0

7th game of season, 1,539th as Cub*

Fouled out to third baseman as pinch hitter with bases loaded and 1 out in ninth inning. Next batter lined out to end game.

Last start had been Sept. 16, at Philadelphia, where he went 1 for 3, a single, in a 6-3 loss. Max Flack, pinch hitting for him in the ninth with 1 out and the bases loaded, grounded into a game-ending double play.

Tinker was manager of Cubs in 1916. Was fired after they finished fifth, with record of 67-86-3.


HIPPO VAUGHN (40.3, 19th)

Date: July 9, 1921

Site, opponent and score: at New York; lost, 6-5

17th game of season, 376th as Cub*

Retired first 6 batters in order, then gave up leadoff double in third. Runner went to third on fly and, after walk, scored on another fly, cutting Cubs' lead to 2-1.

In fourth, gave up back-to-back singles. Bunt and walk loaded bases for Frank Snyder, No. 8 hitter, who launched grand slam. Rival pitcher Phil Douglas followed with homer, making score 6-2 and sending Vaughn to showers after 3.1 innings and 6 hits, 2 walks and 1 strikeout.


TOMORROW: Rest of last games by career leaders in WAR, plus a different kind of last

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