~David Aardsma 1981 (Cubs 2006)
The Cubs picked up Aardsma in the trade that sent Latroy Hawkins to the Giants. He pitched out of the bullpen for the entire 2006 season and had a respectable year (3-0, 4.08 ERA, 45 appearances), but the Cubs traded him to the White Sox the following season for Neal Cotts. Aardsma didn’t really find his niche in baseball until a few seasons later when the Mariners converted him to closer. Over the next two seasons he saved 69 games.
~Bert Abbey 1869 (Colts 1893-1894)
The pitcher was born in Vermont during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, and was a teetotaler. That didn’t go over so well with his Cubs (then known as the Colts) teammates. They were one of the rowdiest teams in baseball history, but Bert was a Christian gentleman. At a time of rampant racism, Bert famously looked all the Negro porters in their eyes and tipped them into their hands instead of throwing money at their feet (which was the common practice at the time). His teammates also disliked him for that. Nevertheless, he probably would have stayed with Chicago if he had delivered on the field, and that’s where Abbey fell a little short. He pitched for two seasons, won 4 games, and posted an ERA over 5.
~Ted Abernathy 1933 (Cubs 1965-1966, 1969-1970)
Abernathy’s delivery was memorable–he was a submariner who nearly hit the ground with his arm on every pitch. The reliever pitched for seven teams during his fourteen year career, but probably had his best season in 1965 with the Cubs. That year he led the league in saves with 31. (He also led the league in saves with the 1967 Cincinnati Reds). By the time he returned to the Cubs in 1969, he was no longer a closer, but he remained an important part of the Cubs bullpen. Ted was traded to the Cardinals in May of 1970 and remained in the big leagues until 1972. (Photo: Topps 1969 Baseball Card)
~Cliff Aberson 1921 (Cubs 1947-1949)
The local Chicago boy (Senn High School) played three seasons for the Cubs after serving in the military during the war, and playing a season of pro football for the Green Bay Packers as a tailback and defensive back. He was a leftfielder for the Cubs. In parts of three seasons, he hit five homers. His nickname was Kif.
~Johnny Abrego 1962 (Cubs 1985)
Johnny only had one shot at the big leagues in his baseball career, and that came with the injury-depleted 1985 Cubs. The entire starting rotation from the 1984 division winners got hurt the following year, and Johnny was among the pitchers brought up to fill in. He had five starts in September, and didn’t impress the brass. He never got another chance. He hurt his arm in the minors and was out of baseball at the age of 24.
~Jimmy Adair 1907 (Cubs 1931)
He got his cup of coffee with the Cubs during the last six weeks of the 1931 season. The 24-year-old shortstop they called “Choppy” hit .276 in 76 at bats for the Cubs. He played another 13 seasons in the minors and never got another sniff of the big leagues.
~Bobby Adams 1921 (Cubs 1957-1959)
Bobby was mainly a third baseman, and he also played a little second base in his 14-year big-league career, the last three of which were with the Cubs. Bobby backed up Al Dark. Adams and Dark, of course, were just keeping position warm for the young phenom who came up their last year with the Cubs; a future Hall of Famer named Santo.
~Franklin P. Adams 1881 (Cubs hater/immortalizer)
He wrote the most famous poem ever written about the Cubs, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”, and it was so memorable it probably got Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance elected into the Hall of Fame. The poem went as follows…
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
“Tinker and Evers and Chance.”
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double—
Words that are weighty with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
He wrote it in 1910, and it was published in the New York Evening Mail. Adams was, of course, a Giants fan. And Giants fans had seen just about enough of Tinker, Evers and Chance. After all, the Cubs had won four of the previous five pennants–and each time the Giants were their biggest rival. 1910 also marked the end of the Tinker to Evers to Chance era of dominance. They played their final game together early in the 1912 season. Adams got the last laugh. He may have immortalized the Cubs double play combination, but in the next fourteen years the Giants were in the World Series seven times. Adams was immortalized himself as a regular at Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin Round Table.
~Karl Adams 1891 (Cubs 1915)
They called him Rebel because he hailed from the South (Georgia). Adams pitched for the Cubs during their last season in West Side Grounds. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire. His record was 1-9, and his ERA was 4.71. That stint with the Cubs was his last in the big leagues. He pitched in the minors for another ten years.
~Mike Adams 1948 (Cubs 1976-1977)
Adams displayed a good combination of power and speed during his eleven minor league seasons, but he never got an opportunity to display it in the big leagues. His stint with the Cubs consisted of 40 plate appearances over two years, and he barely hit over .100. He also got cups of coffee with the Twins and the A’s. His father Bobby played second base for the Cubs in the late 1950s.
~Red Adams 1921 (Cubs 1946)
Adams starred for the Cubs minor league affiliate in Los Angeles while the Cubs were winning the pennant in Chicago in 1945. He won 21 games that year. The Cubs brought him up in 1946, and he ran into a buzzsaw. In eight appearances Adams posted an ERA over 8. He had to settle for starring in the minor leagues after that. Adams never returned to the show.
~Sparky Adams 1894 (Cubs 1923-1927)
His real name was Earl John Adams, and he was an energetic little guy; only 5’5″. Adams spent 1923 and 1924 as the Cubs’ semi-regular shortstop, but came into his own when he was switched to second base for 1925 after second baseman George Grantham was traded to Pittsburgh for shortstop Rabbit Maranville. He was the Cubs leadoff batter during those years and led the league in at bats, but his real long term value to the Cubs may have been as trade bait. Pittsburgh sent Kiki Cuyler to the Cubs for Adams and Pete Scott in 1927. Cuyler led the Cubs to two National League pennants (1929 & 1932), and is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. (Photo: 1933 Goudy Baseball Card)
~Terry Adams 1973 (Cubs 1995-1999)
Terry was a hard throwing right handed reliever for the Cubs in the late 90s. They thought they could make a closer out of him, but it didn’t work out. He did register 18 saves in 1997, but his ERA was 4.62, and his WHIP (walks & hits per inning pitched) was an incredibly bad 1.77. Terry was traded to the Dodgers in December of 1999 for Eric Young and Ismael Valdez. A bit of Terry Adams trivia: He is one of only 13 players in big league history to have played more than 500 games and registered more walks than hits (as a batter). He had four career hits and seven career walks.
~Bob Addis 1925 (Cubs 1952-1953)
Bob got the most extensive playing time in his big league career with the 1952 Cubs. He was essentially a fourth outfielder filling in for Hank Sauer, Frank Baumholtz and Hal Jeffcoat. In June of 1953 he was included in the package of players sent to Pittsburgh to acquire Ralph Kiner. Pittsburgh didn’t have much use for him, and it turned out to be the end of the line for Bob. He played another few seasons in the minors before hanging up his spikes after the 1956 season.
~Bob Addy 1842 (White Stockings 1876)
The Canadian-born outfielder was a grizzled 34-year-old veteran when he joined the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) for their first season in the National League. They called him “Magnet” because of his fielding prowess. He hit .282 in his only season with Chicago.
~Dewey Adkins 1918 (Cubs 1949)
Dewey didn’t get a lot of time in the big leagues (he pitched briefly during the war for the Senators), but his most extensive action came as a member of the Cubs in 1949. He was a right handed pitcher and pitched mostly in relief. In 30 games (five starts) he clocked in with a 5.68 ERA. That wasn’t quite good enough to extend his big league career into the 1950s. His Cubs career highlight was the day he hit his only big league home run.
~Rick Aguilera 1961 (Cubs 1999-2000)
When the Cubs acquired Aguilera in May of 1999, they thought he was one of the final pieces to the puzzle. Rick had a tremendous career with the Twins–including nine seasons with double-digit saves. With the Cubs he didn’t fare so well. Aguilera saved a total of 37 games over two seasons, but he also gave up 17 homers, and his ERA was pushing 5. The pitcher the Cubs traded to get him, Kyle Lohse, has won nearly 150 games for the Twins, Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers (and a World Series ring as a starting pitcher on the 2011 Cardinals.)
~Hank Aguirre 1931 (Cubs 1969-1970)
Aguirre was an all-star with the Tigers in the early 60s and led the American League in ERA, but by the time he came to the Cubs he was strictly a reliever. His last two big league seasons were with the Cubs. He pitched pretty well in 41 games for the ’69 squad, but after getting off to a slower start in 1970, he was released in early July.
~Jack Aker 1940 (Cubs 1972-1973)
Jack was known as “Chief” and had a very solid 11-year big league career, including two with the Cubs. He was acquired from the Yankees for disappointing aging outfielder Johnny Callison. The righthanded reliever saved 29 games for the Cubs over his two years in Chicago, and was released after the 1973 season. He finished his career with 129 saves. He is mentioned in Jim Bouton’s classic book “Ball Four” because he was the player rep for the Seattle Pilots when Bouton pitched there.
~Arismendy Alcantara 1991 (Cubs 2014-2015)
Alcantara was the first of the new wave of Cubs prospects to make it up to the big leagues in the summer of 2014. He showed flashes of promise in his rookie season, but finished the year hitting only .205. Before the end of May in 2015, he was sent down to the minors to rediscover his hitting stroke. He was traded in 2016.
~Dale Alderson 1918 (Cubs 1943-1944)
Dale was one of the bright young pitching prospects in the Cubs minor league system. He got a cup of coffee with the team in 1943, and again in 1944, and would have had a real chance to contribute in 1945, but Uncle Sam had other ideas for Dale. He served in the military for the entire 1945 season at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, where he remained until discharged on October 19, 1945, just nine days after the Cubs lost game 7 of the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Alderson never made it back to the big leagues again
~Vic Aldridge 1893 (1917-1924)
On the day President Harding died, the Cubs beat the Boston Braves 5-1 thanks to a great pitching performance by Vic Aldridge, the #2 starter on the team (behind Grover Alexander). Aldridge went on to win 16 games for the Cubs that year. It was in the middle of a very strong 3-year run with the Cubs, when he won 47 games. He was traded to the Pirates in 1925 in the trade that brought Charlie Grimm to the Cubs.
~Grover Cleveland Alexander 1887 (Cubs 1918-1926)
His 373 wins are the third most in baseball history. And yes, he was a Cub. He won 128 games in his years with the Cubs, and had one of the best seasons in baseball history in 1920, when he led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. But Alexander was troubled during his Cubs years. The only reason they got him at all was because the owner of the Phillies didn’t want to get stuck paying the contract of his star pitcher (a three-time 30 game winner) if he got drafted into World War I. He did get drafted, and he came back from the war a changed man. Old Pete, as he was known, became one of the biggest drinkers in the league–during Prohibition. He showed up drunk to games. He fell asleep in the clubhouse and passed out drunk in the dugout. He smoked like a chimney before every game. He ignored his manager, and openly challenged his authority. The Cubs were understanding up to a point. After all, the man was suffering through medical, physical and mental problems. He was an epileptic, and was prone to seizures. His arm started hurting during his Cubs career, and he had the ligament “snapped back into place” by a man named James “Bonesetter” Smith. And throughout it all he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his horrific war experience. Somehow, against all odds, he continued to pitch well. In 1923, he pitched 305 innings and walked only 30 men. In 1924, he won his 300th game. But in 1926, after his catcher and best friend Bill Killefer went to the Cardinals, Alexander fell apart. In his last ten games with the Cubs, Old Pete showed up drunk six times, and missed two games altogether. The Cubs released him and the Cardinals picked him up on waivers. Back with his best friend Killefer, he regained his pitching touch and led the Cardinals to the World Series championship, winning Game 6, and saving Game 7 of the 1926 series. Two years after his 1950 death, his story was told in the film “The Winning Team,” starring Ronald Reagan. Grover Cleveland Alexander remains the only player in baseball history to be named after a president, and portrayed in a movie by a president.
~Manny Alexander 1971 (Cubs 1997-1999)
Manny was a versatile backup infielder with the Cubs during his three years in Chicago, but he didn’t hit well. The Cubs traded him to the Boston Red Sox for Damon Buford before the 2000 season. Despite a twelve year big league career, Manny is mainly remembered for his connection to the steroids age. The year after he left the Cubs, police discovered a bottle of anabolic steroids and two hypodermic needles in a Mercedes-Benz owned by Alexander. Massachusetts State Police considered filing steroid possession charges against him, but didn’t because they couldn’t prove the steroids belonged to Manny. Because of that incident, Alexander’s name appeared in the Mitchell Report in 2007.
~Matt Alexander 1947 (Cubs 1973-74)
Matt was an outfielder/third baseman who was known for his speed. In only 60 at-bats with the Cubs, he managed to steal ten bases. He stole nearly a hundred more before his big league career was over despite only hitting .214.
~Antonio Alfonseca 1972 (Cubs 2002-2003)
Nicknamed El Pulpo in Spanish (the Octopus) because he was born with an extra digit on his hands and feet. Antonio Alfonseca was the fireman of the year for the Marlins two seasons before he came to Chicago. The Cubs traded an unknown young pitcher named Dontrelle Willis to get him, but the Octopus really stunk up the joint in a Chicago uniform. Audible groans could be heard from the Wrigley faithful each time he walked toward the mound. He did, however, pitch well for the Cubs in the 2003 playoffs (believe it or not).
~Ethan Allen 1904 (Cubs 1936)
The Cubs were a strong team throughout the 1930s, including the 1936 season. They were the defending National League champions that May when they traded future Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (a relative disappointment with the Cubs) back to the Phillies for pitcher Curt Davis and a speedy left fielder near the end of his career; Ethan Allen. Allen anchored left field for the rest of the season–his last year in the majors as a regular. The lifetime .300 hitter did manage to hit .295 for the Cubs, and he stole 12 bases, but it was obvious that he wasn’t in the long-term plans for the team. They sold him to the Browns after the season. But the Ethan Allen story doesn’t end there, and it doesn’t end with the end of his playing days in 1938. Allen may have had a bigger impact in the world than any other member of the 1936 Cubs. (No, he wasn’t the founder of Ethan Allen furniture.) Three years after he retired from baseball, former Cub Ethan Allen invented the Cadaco-Ellis board game All Star Baseball, which remains the best-selling baseball board game of all time. Boys who grew up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s surely have fond memories of playing All-Star Baseball. The annual versions of the game were released every year between 1941 and 1993, the year Allen passed away. It wasn’t discontinued until shortly thereafter because of competition from new computer games and greatly increased player licensing costs. Allen wasn’t just an entrepreneur after his playing days. He also became a college baseball coach; coaching the men’s varsity team at Yale University. Among his players was a skinny first baseman who would go on to become the President of the United States: George Herbert Walker Bush. He might not have had a big impact on the 1936 Cubs, but Ethan Allen made his mark on America. (Photo: 1933 Goudy Baseball Card)
~Nick Allen 1888 (Cubs 1916)
Allen was another catcher who played for the Cubs ever so briefly. His Cubs career lasted five games during the first year they played at Wrigley Field. Allen got on base exactly one time. He later played on the 1919 World Champion Reds; the team that won the “thrown” World Series against the White Sox. After his playing career he became a coach, scout, and mentor for several players who went on to have excellent big league careers, including Leo Durocher and Mark Koenig.
~Albert Almora Jr. 1994 (Cubs 2016-present)
Almora made his debut during the Cubs World Series championship season, and even made the postseason roster. He was the first draft pick in the first draft conducted by the current Cubs front office, and though it took him a few years to make it to the big leagues, he was still only 22 when he wore that Cubs uniform for the first time. In 2017, Almora took a big step forward, becoming a regular part of the outfield rotation. He batted .298 in over 300 plate appearances, and excelled in the post-season. He became the starting centerfielder in 2018, but after a stellar first half, slumped badly in the second half of the season. He finished up at .286, with mediocre power numbers (5 Hrs, 41 RBI).
~Milo Allison 1890 (Cubs 1913-1914)
Milo played a grand total of three games for the Cubs over two seasons in West Side Grounds. The outfielder did manage to get a few hits and a stolen base in his extremely limited playing time. He later played for Cleveland as well. After his playing career, Milo settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
~Moises Alou 1966 (Cubs 2002-2004)
Moises had a borderline Hall of Fame career. He was a seven-time all-star, a two-time Silver Slugger award winner, a World Series champion, hit over .300 for his entire 17-year-career, and slugged more than 300 lifetime homers. Those numbers are very nearly HOF caliber. Unfortunately for Moises he also played in the steroids era, and he’s not really remembered for his hitting at all. Cub fans remember him for two things more than anything else. He admitted that he urinated on his hands before every game to toughen his hands. That’s a difficult visual to shake. But more importantly, he was in the middle of that infamous Bartman moment for the team that came only five outs away from winning the 2003 NL pennant. Moises was the one who was trying to catch the ball Bartman got his hands on, and Moises was the one who created a scene on the field, which riled up the fans and his teammates. If he had simply gone back to his position, likely nothing bad would have occured. When ESPN produced a special on the tenth annivesary of the infamous event (in 2013), Moises also admitted that he and Aramis Ramirez decided after Game 6 to book their flights back to the Dominican because they just knew they wouldn’t win Game 7. I’d like my money back for those Game 7 tickets please. (Photo: Topps 2003 Baseball Card)
~Porfi Altamirano 1952 (Cubs 1984)
He was simply the greatest Porfi to ever play in the big leagues. Altamirano pitched for the Cubs during their division winning season of 1984, and didn’t do too badly. After the season he was traded to the Yankees and never made it back to the majors again.
~Jonathan Alter 1957 (Cubs fan 1957-present)
Alter was a Cubs fan long before he became well known as a columnist and senior editor for Newsweek Magazine. He grew up in Chicago, only six blocks away from the ballpark, and he rooted for the Cubs with all his heart. In 2008, when the Huffington Post added a Chicago page to their highly successful website, Alter helped christen it with memories of his Chicago years. He wrote: “I learned half of what I know about life from the Bleacher Bums, the motley collection of night-shift workers, drunks, layabouts, geezers and lesbians who frequented Wrigley in those years. In 1969, when the Cubs blew the pennant to the Mets, I would amble home from the ballpark in a state of depression.” He was 11 years old at the time–old enough to remember every detail vividly and young enough to really believe that they would get ’em next year. 1969 was a year that an entire generation of baby boomer Cub fans came of age. Included in this group was Scott Simon, an NPR contributor who wrote a book about his hometown sports teams called “Home and Away” in 2000. Jonathon Alter reviewed it for Washington Monthly that year. He gave the book an excellent review, but he couldn’t quite let a few of the details go unchallenged. He wrote: “Over the years,” Scott Simon writes, “I have heard about as many people claim to have sat in those six rows of bleacher seats right along Waveland Avenue as claimed to have voted for John F. Kennedy.” I was there, Scott, I swear, and you actually get some of the details wrong. There were more than six rows of “bleacher bums” (later the title of a play by Joe Mantagna) and admission was $1, not $1.75. You’re thinking of the cost of grandstand seats (See, I’m an expert on this). That extra 75 cents I saved sitting in the bleachers was enough for a cracker jack and a “frosty malt” ice cream. The bleachers also offered a better view of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and my other gods on earth. Alter has gone on to become a very distinguished journalist. He is often seen on television offering commentary on politics, but beneath the rumpled suit of this veteran journalist beats the heart of a lifelong Cubs fan. Just like you.
~George Altman 1933 (Cubs 1959-1962, 1965-1967)
Big George, as he was known, had a few great seasons in the big leagues, and he was wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform when he did it. He joined Chicago after completing his military service and had an immediate impact. His two best seasons came during the ridiculous College of Coaches era, in 1961 and 1962. He clubbed 27 homers in ’61 and was named to the All-Star team. He followed that up with another all-star season in 1962, hitting 22 home runs. The Cardinals thought they were getting a star when they traded for Big George in 1963, but this is one trade that worked out better for the Cubs. The pitchers the Cubs got in return (Larry Jackson and Lindy McDaniel) had tremendous seasons in Chicago, while George fizzled in St. Louis. He finished up his career with the Cubs, but by then he was mainly a backup. (Photo: 1967 Topps Baseball Card)
~Joe Altobelli 1932(Cubs manager 1991)
Altobelli played big league ball with the Indians, but he achieved greater notoriety as a manager with the Giants and Orioles. He won the World Series as the manager of the Orioles in 1983. He managed exactly one game for the Cubs as their interim manager after Don Zimmer was fired in 1991, before Jim Essian was hired as his replacement. The Cubs lost.
~Joey Amalfitano 1934 (Cubs player 1964-1967, Cubs manager 1979, 1981)
He not only played for the Cubs, he also managed them twice (1979-1981) as an interim manager after Herman Franks resigned and Preston Gomez was fired. He didn’t have a lot of success as a player or a manager, but has been continually employed in baseball his entire adult life. He’s currently a special assistant for player development for the San Francisco Giants. (Photo: Topps 1965 Baseball Card)
~Vincente Amor 1932 (Cubs 1955)
Amor appeared in four games for the Cubs out of the bullpen in April of 1955. He was 22 years old at the time. They sent back down to the minors after allowing more than two baserunners an inning. He never returned to the big leagues for the Cubs, but he did get one more cup of coffee with the Reds.
~Bob Anderson 1935 (Cubs 1957-1962)
Anderson was a key part of the Cubs starting rotation in the late 1950s. Among the highlights of those years; beating Don Drysdale on opening day at Wrigley Field in 1959, being on the mound that strange day when two balls were in play at one time (also in 1959), and pitching to lefthanded catcher Dale Long in 1958. After the College of Coaches took over, Anderson was moved to the bullpen, and wasn’t nearly as effective. (Photo: Topps 1960 Baseball Card)
~Brett Anderson 1988 (Cubs 2017)
Anderson began the 2017 season as the Cubs fifth starter, but struggled badly. After he returned from an injury in July, the Cubs released him. He ended the season with Toronto.
~Jimmy Anderson 1976 (Cubs 2004)
Jimmy pitched in the big leagues for six seasons, and during part of 2004, he pitched for the Cubs. He ended his career more than twenty games under .500 and with a lifetime ERA of 5.42.
~John Andre 1923 (Pitcher, Cubs 1955)
He was a Filipino-American who pitched for the Cubs at the age of 32, his only season in the big leagues.
~Jim Andrews 1865 (Colts 1890)
Andrews was a starting outfielder for the Cubs (then known as the Colts) at the beginning of the season, but hit only .188, and the team cut him loose. After Andrews left the team, the Cubs tore up the league. They were 29 games over .500 the rest of the season, and finished in second place.
~Shane Andrews 1971 (Cubs 1999-2000)
Shane was picked up by the Cubs after the Expos released him in September of 1999. By Opening Day of 2000 (in Tokyo), he was the team’s starting third baseman. It didn’t work out. Before the season was over, he shared the job with Willie Greene. While both hitters had pop (24 combined homers), they just couldn’t put the ball in play enough. Andrews hit .229 and was released after the season.
~Fred Andrus 1850 (White Stockings 1876, 1884)
Andrus was 15 years old when the Civil War ended, and played for the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) in their first season in the National League. He pitched and played outfield, but not often. He played in a grand total of nine games. Those two years were his only big league seasons (eight years apart).
~Tom Angley 1904 (Cubs 1929)
The career minor leaguer got one taste of the big time with the Cubs for one week in 1929. He filled in for catcher Gabby Hartnett after he went down with an injury, and managed to knock in six runs in his 16 at bats, but was later replaced by a host of other replacement catchers. Veteran Zach Taylor eventually got the bulk of the playing time, while Angley went back to the minor leagues. The short and squat catcher (5’8, 190 lbs) resembled Hack Wilson in his physique, but not in his results.
~Cap Anson 1852 (White Stockings 1876-1897)
He still holds Cubs career records for most hits, most runs, most doubles, most RBI, and highest batting average (with 2000 or more at bats). Only Ernie Banks has played in more games and had more at-bats. Only Jimmy Ryan has had more triples. Only Stan Hack and Ron Santo were walked more times. He is quite simply the greatest player in Chicago Cubs history. During his playing days he seemed to always be the elder stateman. This is a poem that was written about him by Hyder Ali in the Sporting News in 1893…
How old is Anson? No one knows.
I saw him playing when a kid,
When I was wearing short clothes,
And so my father’s father did,
The oldest veterans of them all,
As kids, saw Anson play baseball
He was 45 years old when he retired in 1897. During his retirement he was treated as royalty in Chicago. One of his biggest fans became the president…Warren G. Harding. President Harding even invited Anson to the White House. (Photo: Harding on the left with Anson on the right, and Anson’s two daughters) In 1939, seventeen years after his death, Cap Anson was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
However, that’s only part of Anson’s legacy, and the rest of the story isn’t pretty. In 1882 in a game against Toledo, Anson demanded that a player be taken out of the game because he was black. Five years later, Anson refused to allow his team to take the field if a black player was on the opposing team. The Giants tried to sign an African-American player, and Anson led the charge in getting the other owners from blocking that move and any other move that would have allowed blacks to play. To be fair, the ban wouldn’t have happened if the other owners and players weren’t also racist, but Anson was the most vocal, and he was the biggest star in the league, and nobody wanted to defy him. He hated “darkies,” as he called them, but he thought he was magnanimous, because he hired a “little coon who could handle a baton” to be the team mascot. This is the way he described him in his memoirs…”Outside of his dancing and his power of mimicry, he was, however, a ‘no account nigger’ and more than once did I wish that he been left behind.” As great of a player as he was, Cap Anson left a stain on this great game…a stain that wasn’t erased in the league until 1947, and in Chicago until 1953.
~Jimmy Archer 1883 (Cubs 1909-1917)
He was the regular Cubs catcher from 1911 to 1917, but Jimmy Archer was much more than that. He was an early version of television’s Steve Austin; the bionic Cub. During the winter of 1902, at the age of 19, Archer was working as a barrel maker in Toronto when he fell into a vat of boiling oak sap. He scalded his right arm and leg so badly that he was hospitalized for three months. Jimmy was in so much pain during his hospitalization that he begged for his arm to be amputated. But the injury had an upside that he never could have expected. As a result of the accident, the tendon in his right arm shrunk and made his right arm shorter than his left. It also made it unusually strong. Suddenly Jimmy was able to throw the baseball with incredible velocity. The catcher became famous for his arm, and he always claimed it was due to the accident. He got his MLB start catching for the Tigers, and got some action in the World Series against the Cubs that year. He even threw out the Cubs best base stealer (Jimmy Slagle). The Cubs acquired him shortly thereafter, and he eventually took over the starting catching job from Johnny Kling. Jimmy was one of the best players on the Cubs during his decade in a Chicago uniform, being named to the “All American” team three years in a row (1912-1914). His throwing arm was the envy of the league. Chief Meyers, the catcher of the Giants, was in awe. He said: “He didn’t have an arm. He had a rifle. And perfect accuracy.” The Irish born Archer settled in Chicago after his playing days were over and made headlines one more time before his death. On August 7, 1931, he was in the Chicago Stockyards when he saw two men dying in the cab of a truck. They were overcome with carbon monoxide gas. Archer pulled them out in time to save their lives, and then administered first aid to revive them. The National Safety Council awarded him a medal for his heroism.
~Jose Arcia 1943 (Cubs 1968)
Jose was a 24-year-old rookie with the Cubs in 1968, and the Cuban infielder filled in at second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field. He was considered a reliable glove man, but he only batted .190. The Padres drafted him away from the Cubs in the 1968 expansion draft, and he played two seasons with San Diego.
~John Arguello (Cubs blogger)
John is the editor-in-chief of Cubs Den at ChicagoNow. He oversees a staff of several writers dedicated to bringing the latest Cubs news and information, including a comprehensive look at their minor league system. He runs a very informative and entertaining blog–one that often reflects his passion for the Cubs.
~Alex Arias 1967 (Cubs 1992)
Arias was drafted by the Cubs and played a little shortstop for them in his rookie season on 1992, but after the season was over, he was included in the package that brought Greg Hibbard to the Cubs from the Marlins. Hibbard had one good season in Chicago, and Arias went on to become a World Series champion. In eleven seasons, Alex played for five different big league clubs.
~J. Ogden Armour 1862 (Cubs fan 1876-1927)
He became Chicago’s meat-packing king, the man skewered by Upton Sinclair in “The Jungle,” but he was also a big Cubs fan. He bought into the team for $50,000 and convinced a good buddy of his to the same; William Wrigley. The year was 1916, and those men along with former Whales owner Charlie Weeghman were the saviors of the Cubs…the men who got the dreaded, hated, Charles Murphy out of the game. At the time, J. Ogden Armour was one of the three richest men in Chicago. In 1916 Armour donated a mascot to the Cubs..a juvenile black bear. The bear was named “Joa” after Armour’s initials, and the team built him a “den” (actually a cage) at Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue. It was the first year the Cubs played at what was then known as Cubs Park. Joa debuted on June 20, 1916, for Cubs-Reds game. (It was rained out.) Joa lived there for most of that 1916 season, but by September the club realized he was more trouble than he was worth, and sold him to the Lincoln Park Zoo for twenty bucks. When the stock market slumped after World War 1, Armour did too, and he was forced to sell his portion of the Cubs. He was also forced out at the meat-packing business his father founded after he lost a million dollars a day for 130 days in a row. At that point, one of his friends offered him a million dollars as a loan, and he said, “thanks, but it wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket.” Armour wasn’t just a Cub fan. He was a Bud man. He once famously quipped: “I don’t suppose I shall ever be happy. Perhaps no one ever is. But the thing that would make me happiest just now would be to know that I could get roaring drunk and wander about the loop for two days without anyone paying any attention to me.” He saw his last Cubs game in 1923. He retired to California shortly after that. In 1927 on a trip to London, he fell ill and died. He had less than $25,000 in his personal accounts.
~Jamie Arnold 1974 (Cubs 2000)
He was a first round pick of the Atlanta Braves, but Jamie Arnold never quite lived up to his billing. The Cubs got him in a trade (for Ismael Valdez), and tried him in the rotation and the bullpen, but he didn’t pitch well in either role. In twelve appearances with the Cubs, he had an ERA of 6.61. He never pitched in the big leagues again. In eleven minor league seasons, Arnold was 23 games under .500.
~Jake Arrieta 1986 (Cubs 2013-2017)
Arrietta was a member of Team USA in 2006 and helped them win the World University Baseball Championship before being drafted by the Orioles. He had trouble with his control and gave up a few too many long balls during his time in Baltimore, and was traded to the Cubs in 2013 as part of the Scott Feldman trade. He looked good at the end of that season with the Cubs, and then he had a breakthrough season for the Cubs in 2014, winning 10 games and posting an ERA of 2.53. In 2015, he put the Cubs on his shoulders and took them all the way to the NLCS, winning 22 games, posting an ERA of 1.77, striking out 236 batters, throwing a no-hitter, and winning two playoff games (Wildcard and NLDS). In their World Series season of 2016, he wasn’t quite as sharp, but he did win two crucial World Series games against the Indians. In 2017, Arrieta was once again the strongest starter in the playoffs for the Cubs after leading the team with 14 wins during the regular season. He became a free agent after the season, and signed with the Phillies.
~Jim Asbell 1914 (Cubs 1938)
They called him “Big Train”. Jim Asbell was a big powerful 24-year-old outfielder that had shown promise as a slugger in the minor leagues when the Cubs brought him up to the bigs during their pennant winning season of 1938. The Cubs used him mainly as a pinch hitter.He had 33 at-bats; the only 33 at-bats of his major league career. After that he took the Big Train back to the minors. He spent a few more years in the Cardinals minor league system but Big Train Asbell never made it back up to the big leagues again.
~Jose Ascanio 1985 (Cubs 2008-2009)
Jose came to the Cubs in the trade that sent Will Ohman and Omar Infante to the Braves. He was a power arm and the Cubs thought he would be a late inning part of the bullpen. He wasn’t that guy. Ascanio appeared in twenty games over two seasons and was traded to the Pirates for Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow in 2009. He didn’t do much for the Pirates either.
~Jairo Asencio 1983 (Cubs 2012)
When he signed with the Braves he was using a false name (Luis Valdez) and birthday, and that caused him some visa problems early in his career. He pitched briefly for the Braves and the Indians, and the Cubs claimed him off waivers. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 12 games for the Cubs in 2012. His ERA in 14.2 innings was 3.07. After the season, he was released.
~Richie Ashburn 1927 (Cubs 1960-1961)
While it was great to have the Hall of Famer Ashburn covering centerfield for the 1960 and 1961 Cubs, the lifetime .308 hitter was long past his prime. He put up those Hall of Fame numbers mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies. The stories about Ashburn from his early days are legendary. He loved hitting so much he slept with his Louisville Slugger when he was in slump. He was a speedy singles hitter who won two batting titles, finished second three times, and hit over .300 nine times. By the time he came to the Cubs, unfortunately, his career was declining and he no longer had the speed he exhibited early in his career. Ashburn was a five time all-star, but none of those appearances came with the Cubs. The Cubs let him to go in the expansion draft of 1962, and he finished his career as the only all-star on the worst team of all-time, the 1962 Mets. After his playing career ended, he became a beloved announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies. He died in 1997, two years after he was elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame. (Photo: 1961 Topps Baseball Card)
~Ken Aspromonte 1931 (Cubs 1963)
Aspromonte played seven seasons in the big leagues, the highlight of which was probably his 1960 season as the starting second baseman for the Cleveland Indians. He had a good year, slugging 10 homers, and batting .290. It was enough to get the attention of the Washington Senators, who selected him in the 1960 Expansion Draft. Aspromonte shuffled around between Washington, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee over the next year or so, never really claiming a full time gig. By the time he came to the Cubs he was strictly a backup. He didn’t even make it through half the season. The Cubs released him in June, and that marked the end of his big league career. Ken’s brother Bob also played in the big leagues (mostly with Houston). (Photo: Topps 1964 Baseball Card)
~Paul Assenmacher 1960 (Cubs 1989-1993)
The Cubs picked up Assenmacher towards the end of the 1989 season to help bolster their bullpen down the streth and in the playoffs. Assenmacher didn’t pitch too well for Chicago that season, but he was one of the best lefthanders in baseball over the next few years. He saved 33 games and won 20 while pitching in an average of 70 games a season. After leaving the Cubs he pitched in two World Series with the Indians.
~Mitch Atkins 1985 (Cubs 2009-2010)
Mitch was a 7th round pick of the Cubs, and he did get a cup of coffee for the Cubs in 2009 and 2010, but he only pitched 12 innings and appeared in seven games. He later got another cup of coffee with the Orioles in 2011.
~Toby Atwell 1924 (Cubs 1952-1953)
He was an all-star catcher with the Cubs in his rookie season of 1952, hitting .290. He would never get near that number again. Toby was one of the players sent to Pittsburgh in the trade that brought Ralph Kiner to the Cubs in 1953, and remained with the Pirates for the next four seasons.
~Earl Averill 1931 (Cubs 1959-1960)
His father was a Hall of Famer with Cleveland, but Earl Jr. wasn’t quite the player his father was. He had decent pop in his bat (11 homers with the Cubs), but he struggled to hit for average. He hit .233 and .237 with the Cubs. He also played for the Indians, White Sox, Angels, and Phillies. His best season was probably 1961 (with the Angels), when he hit 21 homers. He also reached base 17 consecutive times–still a major league record.
~Alex Avila 1987 (Cubs 2017-present)
Avila was traded to the Cubs by his own father, the GM of the Detroit Tigers. The nine year veteran catcher filled an important role on the Cubs during their stretch run. He replaced the injured Wilson Contreras and had some key hits while Contreras recovered.
~Bobby Ayala 1969 (Cubs 1999)
Ayala was a big league reliever for eight years, and had a couple of very good seasons with Seattle. He was their closer and saved 56 games for them. When the Cubs got him in 1999 he was toast. His last appearance in a big league uniform came with the Cubs on October 2, 1999.
~Manny Aybar 1972 (Cubs 2001)
Aybar pitched in the big leagues for eight seasons, but he never achieved any kind of lasting success. In his one season with the Cubs his ERA was 6.35. He gave up five homers in only 22 innings. Manny’s lifetime ERA was 5.11.