Jose Cardenal was one of the most colorful players to wear a Cubs uniform. With his gigantic afro, his hat tucked into his back pocket, and his crouched batting stance and running style, he was easy to spot.
But he was also an interesting guy, prone to some rather unusual on and off-the-field incidents.
*In 1972, Cardenal declared himself unfit to play because crickets in his hotel room had kept him awake all night.
*In 1973, he attempted to steal home and ran right into Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins who was batting at the time. Fergie was knocked to the ground, jammed an index finger in the process, and had to be removed from the game.
*On the opening day of the 1974 season, Jose said that he couldn't play because his eyelid was stuck open. Apparently, he'd 'slept funny and couldn't blink'. That's right, it was stuck open, not closed.
*In 1975, Jose was taken to the Jefferson Park police station and charged with resisting arrest after an altercation at O'Hare Airport. His wife had gone to the airport to pick him up after a road trip, and security had told her three times that she had to move the car because it was parked illegally. When Jose got there, his wife was having a heated argument with a cop. Jose took the cop's nightstick and hit him in the head with it. (He later filed a $750,000 lawsuit against the city--charging police brutality, and it was settled out of court.)
*Though he left Cuba legally (in 1961, at the age of 16), he did not see his family again until 1979, after his 18-year major league career had ended. In the intervening years, Cardenal's appearance changed so much that his own mother once bumped into him in an airport - and didn't recognize him.
He may have been mercurial, but Jose Cardenal was a crowd favorite throughout his Cubs years. Though he played for other teams in other towns and coached for other teams in other towns, he always considered Chicago his American home.
That's not speculation on our part. That's backed up by this first person account.