~Zip Zabel 1891 (Cubs 1913-1915)
When the Zabels had their little boy in Kansas around the time of George Washington’s birthday, they named him George Washington Zabel. But no-one ever called him George. His teammates called him Zip. Zabel pitched for the Cubs during their last three seasons at the rickety firetrap known as West Side Grounds (1913-1915). On June 17, 1915 he set a record there that will never be broken. He came in to spell Cubs starter Bert Humphries in the first inning, and went on to pitch the next 18 and 1/3 innings in relief. He faced 78 batters in those innings, and only gave up two runs. The Cubs finally won the game 4-3 in the bottom of the 19th.
~Geoff Zahn 1945 (Cubs 1975-1976)
Zahn was one of two pitchers acquired for Burt Hooton from the Dodgers after the 1974 season. The Cubs gave the lefthander ten starts in 1975 to see what he could do, and while he didn’t have terrible numbers (4.45 ERA), his 2-7 record was pretty bad. He spent most of the 1976 season in the minors. The Cubs were so unimpressed by him they released him January of 1977. Zahn had the last laugh. He went to the American League and pitched in the regular rotation of the Angels and Twins over the next 8 seasons. He averaged nearly 200 innings pitched and 13 wins a seasons.
~Carlos Zambrano 1981 (Cubs 2001-2011)
For all the controversy he stirred in his Cubs career, Carlos was a very good starting pitcher for a decade. He was a three-time all-star, twice finished in the top five in Cy Young voting, won 13 or more games six seasons in a row, won three Silver Slugger awards (as the league’s best hitting pitcher), and threw a no-hitter in 2008. He also started games for the Cubs in four different playoff series. Unfortunately for the Cubs, he didn’t win any of his five playoff starts. Carlos will always be remembered in Chicago not for his pitching or hitting ability, but for his temper. He punched his teammate Michael Barrett in the face, got into a shouting match in the dugout with his teammate Derrek Lee, and stormed out of the locker room after a game saying he was quitting baseball. That last one led to a suspension. He later changed his mind and apologized, but it was too late. His Cubs career was over.
~Edwardo Zambrano 1966 (Cubs 1993-94)
He had some pop in his bat, but by the time the Cubs gave him a break, he was already 27 years old. During the strike shortened 1994 season, the 1B/OF hit six homers in only 116 at bats.
~Oscar Zamora 1944 (Cubs 1974-1976)
Zamora pitched a perfect game in the minors on the same day that Milt Pappas almost pitched one for the big league club (9/2/72). Oscar became one of the Cubs closers in the mid 70s before the arrival of Bruce Sutter. He saved ten games in consecutive seasons (1974-1975), but the first year went considerably better than the second. In 1975, Zamora was hit hard. The Cuban reliever gave up 17 homers in only 71 innings. According to the Baseball Library, one writer immortalized Oscar in song (to the tune of “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin): “When the pitch is so fat, that the ball hits the bat, that’s Zamora.” When the next season went similarly, the Cubs sent him back to the minors. (Photo: 1976 Topps Baseball Card)
~Rob Zastryzny 1992 (Cubs 2016)
The Canadian born Zastryzny came up at the end of the year and pitched in some important games for the Cubs. He pitched so well (1.13 ERA in eight appearances, 17Ks in 16 IP), that the Cubs named the lefty to the postseason roster for the NLCS against the Dodgers. He didn’t appear in any of the games.
~Rollie Zeider 1883 (Cubs 1916-1918)
He remains one of only two men to have played for three different professional teams in Chicago (he played with the Cubs, the Sox, and the Federal League Whales). His last three seasons in the big leagues were spent with the Cubs, serving as their utilityman. He played every position on the field except catcher, pitcher and centerfield. Rollie’s time with the Cubs coincided with the first three years the team played at what is now known as Wrigley Field (1916-1918). Once called “Hook” because of his beak-like nose, Zeider later became known as “Bunions” when he contracted blood-poisoning after a Ty Cobb spiking sliced into his bunion. (Photo: 1916 Sporting News Baseball Card)
~Todd Zeile 1965 (Cubs 1995)
Zeile had a stellar 16-year career as a third baseman, catcher, and first baseman, but only half of one season was with the Cubs. The Cubs acquired him in 1995 for pitcher Mike Morgan, but Zeile was a free agent at the end of the year, and signed with the Phillies. He also played for the Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, Rockies, Yankees, and Expos. In his career he hit over 250 homers. Nine of those were with the Cubs. He may have been a good power hitter, but Zeile was a bit of a butcher in the field. He had more errors in the 1990s than any other player in baseball.
~Bob Zick 1927 (Cubs 1954)
Zick had a cup of coffee for the Cubs during the 1954 season. He was on the roster multiple times that year (he came up in May and September), but Bob didn’t get many chances to show his stuff on the mound. He pitched in eight games and was knocked around (8.27 ERA) by big league hitters. It was his only stint in the majors, and he was 27 years old. The University of Illinois grad pitched one more year in the minors before hanging up his spikes.
~Don Zimmer 1931 (Cubs 1960-1961) (Photo: 1961 Topps Baseball Card)
Most modern day Cub fans know the tale of his managing days in Chicago, but not many know about his interesting stint as a Cubs player. In April of 1960, the Cubs made a trade with the reigning World Champion Dodgers to acquire one of their backup infielders. That backup infielder’s name was Don Zimmer. It was one of those moves that caused everyone in the league to scratch their heads. Although Zimmer was a competent enough player (he managed to stay in the majors for twelve seasons), he was coming off a season in which he hit only .165 in nearly 250 at bats. He had very little power, very little range in the infield, and his best days were behind him. Plus, the Dodgers didn’t really have a place to play the 29-year-old Zimmer. He clearly wasn’t going to crack the lineup in 1960. They had all-star infielders like Charlie Neal (2B), Maury Wills (SS), and Junior Gilliam (3B). Nevertheless, the Cubs traded promising young minor league pitcher Ron Perranoski (and two other players) to get him. Plus, the Cubs said they acquired Zimmer to play him at 3B–and they already had a rookie phenom poised to take over the position…a youngster by the name of Ron Santo. Santo was furious when the trade was announced, and threatened to quit. Rather than upset the youngster, the Cubs put Zimmer at Second Base, and traded their fine young second baseman Tony Taylor to the Phillies. How did this trade work out for the Cubs? Perranoski ended up becoming one of the premier relief pitchers in baseball for the next decade. He pitched in two league championship series, and three World Series, winning two rings with the 1963 and 1965 Dodgers. He also led the league in saves twice, and saved a total 179 games between 1961 and 1971. Tony Taylor, who was only 24 years old at the time of the trade, played another sixteen years in the majors with the Phillies and the Tigers. When he retired after the 1976 season he was the oldest player in baseball (40 years old). Don Zimmer was the manager of the Boston Red Sox at the time. Zimmer’s Cubs career is probably best remembered for his very public criticism of the ridiculous “College of Coaches” system, which he claimed was stunting the growth of budding superstars Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Lou Brock. His candor was rewarded with being left unprotected in the expansion draft of 1962. He was drafted by the New York Mets, and played on the worst team in baseball history. Zimmer passed away in 2014.
~Heinie Zimmerman 1887 (Cubs 1907-1916)
Heinie saw some of the biggest moments in Cubs history, including both of their World Series championships, their last ever game at West Side Grounds, and their first ever game at Weeghman Park (now known as Wrigley Field). He was a great hitter–he nearly won the Triple Crown in 1912–but he was a butcher in the field (making four errors in a game several times) and a trouble maker in the clubhouse. In 1908 he threw bottle of ammonia at a teammate’s face (Jimmy Sheckard), and nearly blinded him. He was suspected of being a game fixer later in his career (in New York), and was kicked off the team. He later worked in a speakeasy with the notorious gangster Dutch Schultz. (Photo: 1914 Cracker Jack Baseball Card)
~Ben Zobrist 1981 (Cubs 2016)
The Cubs signed the 2-time all-star 10-year veteran fresh off his World Series win the Kansas City Royals. Zobrist had the best years of his very good career when Joe Maddon was his manager in Tampa Bay. The super-utility man led the Rays to the World Series in 2008. His acquisition was the reason the Cubs traded Starlin Castro to the Yankees. In his first season in Chicago Zobrist did not disappoint. He was named the All-Star game starter (at 2nd base), hit 18 homers and drove in 76 runs, while playing all over the field. By the time the playoffs began, Javy Baez had claimed the full-time second base job and Zobrist was in left field. He saved his greatest moments for the biggest stage, winning the World Series MVP award after hitting .357 and delivering big hits in crucial moments, including the game winning RBI in Game 7.
~Julio Zuleta 1975 (Cubs 2000-2001)
The Panamanian slugger had obvious power, but he couldn’t claim a starting spot with the Cubs. He was big (6’5″) and bright (he could speak five languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, English and Japanese), but he isn’t really remembered for either thing in Chicago. He’s remembered for the funny spells he would cast on the bats in the dugout, trying to get more hits out of them. Zuleta later starred in Japan.
~Dutch Zwilling 1888 (Cubs 1916)
If you go to the Baseball Encyclopedia and look at the last name listed there, you’ll find Dutch Zwilling. Dutch was born in St. Louis, and only lasted four big league seasons, but the centerfielder might have seen more historic Chicago baseball history than any other player. His career started in 1910 with the Chicago White Sox. If that year doesn’t instantly ring a bell, it should. It was the first season the White Sox played in their brand new Comiskey Park. After that year he kicked around the minors for a few seasons, but reemerged in the newly formed Federal League in 1914. If that year doesn’t sound familiar, it should. It was the opening season of the ballpark now known as Wrigley Field. Dutch played both seasons for the Feds, and led the league in homers one season and RBI the next, so when his owner bought the Chicago Cubs the following year, he made sure that he brought his boy Dutch to play for the Cubs. That was 1916, the first season that the Cubs played in Wrigley Field. Dutch Zwilling may be the last man listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia, but he saw things in his playing days that most of us would only dream of seeing. He and his buddy Rollie “Bunions” Zeider remain, and will always remain, the only two players to have played major league baseball for three different Chicago teams.
This may be the end, but we’re hoping for a new beginning. This shirt (below) is available in the Just One Bad Century store…