Dennis Lamp was the Cubs’ third-round pick in 1971 out of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California, the same school that eventually produced Nomar Garciaparra.
Lamp moved steadily through the Cubs farm system, eventually getting noticed when he was part of a 1974 Cubs farm team in Key West, Florida that went 37-94, yet produced four good MLB pitchers: Lamp, Bruce Sutter, Donnie Moore and Mike Krukow. Lamp posted a 1.47 ERA in eight starts for Key West, was promoted to Double-A and by mid-1977 found himself in the major leagues.
That’s when Jack Brickhouse wound up making one of the first “Dad jokes” ever when Lamp took the mound at lightless Wrigley Field on a cloudy day and Brickhouse stated on the WGN broadcast, “It’s pretty dark out there even though there’s a Lamp on the mound!”
The following year Lamp went into the Cubs rotation and posted a 3.86 ERA in his first 12 outings (11 starts). He took the mound for the Cubs on a Friday afternoon against the Padres and began setting them down, one after one. Lamp’s specialty was the sinker — he struck out only 4.2 hitters per nine innings in his career — and that day he recorded 10 ground-ball outs among his first 17 outs of the game.
But there hadn’t been any Padres hits; the only baserunner had been on a one-out walk in the second. Meanwhile, the Cubs had taken a 4-0 lead, helped in part by a home run by Dave Kingman.
With two out in the sixth, Lamp gave up a line-drive single to left by Padres outfielder Gene Richards. That turned out to be the only hit in the game, a complete-game shutout that was the Cubs’ first one-hitter in six years (they’d also had a no-hitter, by Milt Pappas, during that 1972 season).
Two of the outs recorded in the ninth inning are listed in the boxscore as line drives to left field, and according to Richard Dozer’s recap in the Tribune, Kingman made great catches on both of them:
He was the defensive genius who made two all-out running catches of short ninth-inning flies, reminiscent of the ones Walt Moryn made to save Don Cardwell’s 1960 no-hitter.
Kingman was not known for his defensive prowess, but on that afternoon he helped save a one-hit shutout for Lamp, one of five complete-game shutouts he threw in his four years as a Cub. In March 1981, the Cubs traded Lamp to the White Sox for Ken Kravec, a deal that worked out much better for Lamp and the Sox, as Lamp became a useful swingman for the Sox and pitched for them in the 1983 ALCS. Kravec was pretty bad in two Cubs seasons (5.31 ERA in 37 games, 14 starts) but later became a minor-league coach and scout for several teams, including the Cubs, where he also spent time as a special assistant to then-GM Jim Hendry.
As for Lamp, he eventually pitched in 16 MLB seasons, including postseasons for the Blue Jays (1985) and Red Sox (1990) and after his baseball career ended worked a succession of jobs, eventually winding up as the seafood counter manager in a Newport Beach, California supermarket.
No, I am not making that up:
Dennis Lamp’s one-hitter for the Cubs happened 45 years ago today, Friday, June 9, 1978.