• EveryCubEver

    D-Day

    By Rick Kaempfer
    In Today's Feature
    Jun 6th, 2020
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    Today is the 75th anniversary of D-day. 24 Chicago Cubs served in the military during World War II, but Larry French was the only one to actively take part in the D-Day invasion. French was an active player until joining the Navy, but realizing his baseball career was essentially over, he decided to make the military his career. French stayed in the navy for 27 years (22 in active duty) before retiring in 1969 as a captain. Here’s his profile from Every Cub Ever…

    ~Larry French 1907 (Cubs 1935-1941)
    French was one of the most memorable characters to wear a Cubs uniform. He was a hero off the field (After leaving baseball, he participated in the invasion of Normandy as a landing craft material officer), but on the field it was a slightly different story. French started a World Series game for the Cubs in 1935 (losing it in the bottom of the ninth), and appeared in the 1938 World Series as a reliever, but that season he also made history. Larry became the only pitcher with a losing record in major league history to lose as many as 19 games for a pennant winner. He went 10-19 on a team that was 89-63, personally accounting for nearly 1/3 of the team’s losses. That’s a pretty staggering total. Despite this “achievement,” French was very popular with the fans and his teammates. Again, it was the off-the-field stories that fueled his popularity. In 1938, he made news when he bought a live bear cub from a fan for $10. Larry learned a valuable lesson that summer…keeping a live bear cub isn’t as easy as it sounds. After the cub tore up his apartment, French somehow managed to convince his teammate Ripper Collins to take the bear off his hands. Collins learned the same valuable lesson. After a similar unpleasant experience, he donated the cub to a conservation camp in New York. Despite his record setting season of 1938, Larry French was a pretty good starting pitcher during his Major League career. He won 18 games for the Pirates twice, and had two good years with the Cubs in 1935 & 1936; winning 17 and 18 games respectively. He finished his Major League career with 197 wins and a 3.44 ERA, and went to his grave (in 1987) without ever again owning a live bear cub.

    Larry’s mentioned in this 1935 highlight reel…

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