St. Patrick's Day Cubs

The Cubs have used exactly 2,200 different players in their 147 seasons in the National League.

Only 8 of them were born on St. Patrick's Day.

Yet the 4 hitters combined to play in 2,154 games as a Cub, and the 4 pitchers, in 694.

Here are profiles of all 8, in chronological order.


FRED PFEFFER (1,093 games)

Primarily a second baseman, "Fritz" Pfeffer made his big league debut in 1882, at age 23, with Troy, in what proved to be the last of its 4 seasons in the National League.

The following year, he joined the Cubs, then known as the White Stockings, and he played 10 seasons with them: 1883-89, 1891 and 1896-97.

He spent 1890 with the Chicago Pirates of the Players League, which folded after a single year. From 1892-95, he played for Louisville, then he played 4 games for the Giants in 1896 before returning to the Cubs to complete his career.

He was celebrated for his defensive skill more than for hit bat. His slash line in his games as a Cub was .254/.309/.377, for an OPS of .686 and an OPS+ of 95.

Pfeffer hit 25 home runs in 1884, when the White Stockings as a team slugged 142, thanks to the extremely short left field fence at their home park. The 7 other teams averaged 26.

Pfeffer homered 16 times in 1887 and no more than 8 in any season with any club.

He batted .289/.325/.514 in 1884, with an OPS+ of 153. His second-best OPS was 116 and he topped 100 in 3 more seasons.

His highest batting average was .309, in 1894.


BILL GANNON (15 games)

The 28-year-old right fielder played for 9 minor league teams before earning a trial with the Cubs late in 1901.

In his first 3 games, he went 5 for 12; in the next 12, just 4 for 49, resulting in a .146 average.

All his hits were singles. He walked once and struck out 10 times.

He never played in the big leagues again, but spent time with 6 more minor league clubs before retiring, at age 34, after 1907.


CHARLIE ROOT (605 games)

After 2 minor-league seasons, righthanded pitcher Root made his debut with the Browns in 1923, at age 23. It did not go well: 0-4, with a 5.70 ERA, in 27 games, all but 2 in relief.

The Browns then traded Root to Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, where a veteran pitcher, Doc Crandall, taught Root how to throw a hard curveball and a changeup. Root promptly won 21 games, leading to his purchase by the Cubs, for 2 players plus $3,000.

The Cubs kept him in Los Angeles in 1925. He went 25-13, with a 2.86 ERA, and 1926 found him in Chicago, where he would remain for 16 seasons.


He won 18 games his first year as a Cub, 26 the second and ate least 14 every year through 1933, including 19 in 1929 and 15 in 1932, when the Cubs won pennants.

In the 1932 World Series, he was pitcher against whom Babe Ruth hit his supposed "called shot" home run. Root insisted that if Ruth had been pointing to bleachers, he would have put the next pitch in Ruth's ear.

Root was 15-10 again in 1933, then slumped to 4-7 in 1934, at age 35. But he bounced back to go 15-8 the following year, helping the Cubs finish first once again.

He was 13-5 in 1937, then 8-7 in 1938, another season that ended in a pennant. From 1939-41, in his 40s, Root was a combined 18-19.


On Aug. 27, 1941, at Boston, Root took over with 1 out in the first inning, after starter Ken Raffensberger gave up 2 runs on 3 singles and a walk. Root threw the final 8.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 6 walks, and the Cubs rallied to win, 6-4, earning Root his 200th victory.

He got No. 201 on Sept. 2, going the distance in a 5-1 win at home over the Reds, who made 5 hits and drew 5 walks.

That was the last of Root's 632 big league games. He pitched 103 more through 1946 with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League and Columbus of the American Association.

Root remains the Cubs' career lead in wins. Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown is second, with 188, followed by Bill Hutchison (180), Larry Corcoran (175) and Ferguson Jenkins (167).

Root also is the team leader in games, by 122 over Carlos Marmol. He is tied with Hutchison for third in starts (339), behind Jenkins (347) and Rick Reuschel (343).


HY VANDENBERG (65 games)

Harold Harris Vandenberg, a righty, was 38 years old and had not pitched in the majors for 3 years before he came to the Cubs in 1944.

He was 7-4, 3.63, that year, then 7-3, 3.49 the next. He started 16 games and completed 5, including a shutout at Cincinnati on June 15, 1945, in which the only hit was a 1-out double in the first inning.

He split 1946 between 2 minor league teams, then retired, at age 40.


HANK SAUER (862 games)

An outfielder nicknamed "The Honker," Sauer divided his 15-year career among 4 teams, beginning with the Reds in 1941-49 and ending with the Cardinals (1956) and Giants (1957-59).

But it was during his 7 seasons as a Cub that he enjoyed by far his greatest success.

He hit 35 home runs for Cincinnati in 1948, his first full season, at age 31, but had only 4 through 42 games in 1949 before being traded to the Cubs, along with Frank Baumholtz, for Peanuts Lowrey and Harry Walker.

Sauer responded with 27 homers in 96 games the rest of that season, then 32, 30 and 37 in the next 3 years. The 37 in 1952 led both leagues, as did his 121 runs batted in, leading to his selection as the NL's Most Valuable Player.

He slumped to 19 homers in 1953, then hit a career-high 41 in 1955, at age 37.

In all, Sauer slugged 198 homers as a Cub, still 10th most in team history, 7 behind Bill Nicholson and 8 ahead of Hack Wilson.

No Cub has hit more homers beginning at age 32. Sammy Sosa is second, with 188, followed by Ernie Banks (177), Andre Dawson (174) and Alfonso Soriano (148).

Sauer's slash line as a Cub was .269/.348/.512, for an OPS of .860 and an OPS+ of 126. His WAR was 18.9.


JERRY TABB (11 games)

After 5 seasons in the minors, the first baseman was called up in September of 1976.

He went 2 for 4 in his first start, then did it again the next day. In each of his other starts, he was 1 for 4.

Overall, he was 7 for 24, all singles. He walked 3 times and struck out twice.

The following March, the Cubs sold Tabb to the Athletics, for whom he played 168 games in 1977-78, concluding his big league career.


SCOTT DOWNS (18 games)

A left hander, Downs appeared in 619 games over 13 seasons. Only 50 were starts, including all 18 as a rookie with the Cubs in 2000.

He compiled a 4-3 record and a 5.17 ERA as a Cub, with a WHIP of 1.638. In 94 innings, he struck out 63, walked 37 and surrendered 13 home runs.

Downs twice pitched 7.2 innings, blanking the Tigers on 8 hits on June 2 and holding the Royals to 1 run on 7 hits on July 17.

2 weeks later, at the trade deadline, the Cubs swapped Downs to the Expos for outfielder Rondell White.


BILL MUELLER (173 games)

The third baseman slashed .289/.370/395 in his first 5 seasons, with the Giants. They sent him to the Cubs after 2000 for pitcher Tim Worrell.

Mueller was batting .312/.405/.488 through 35 games in 2001. In his 36th game, he hit a first-inning triple and scored a run. Then he chased a foul pop up, slammed into a brick wall and broke his patella, sidelining him until Aug. 13.

He finished the year at .295/.403/.448, for an OPS of .851 and an OPS+ of 125.

When his knee continued to bother him, Mueller had surgery in March of 2002 and did not make his season debut until May 6. He struggled at the plate much of the year; even after hitting 2 doubles and a home run against the Brewers on Sept. 2, his line was just .264/.351/.401.

After Mueller made 2 singles in 4 at bats the next day, the Cubs traded him back to the Giants for a minor league pitcher, Jeff Verplancke.

Following the season, Mueller signed with the Red Sox, and in 2003 he won the American League batting title by hitting .326. He had career highs of 19 homers, 85 RBI, a .938 OPS and a 140 OPS+.

Mueller's numbers in his time as a Cub: .277/.373/.419, for an OPS of .792 and an OPS+ of 110.

In his 11-year career, he was .291/.373/.425, for .797 and 109.

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