Today’s Cubs Birthdays (August 26)
~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.
~Heinz Becker 1915 (Cubs 1943-1946)
Rollie Zeider, a player on the 1918 pennant winning Cubs, was famously nicknamed Bunions. But he wasn’t the only one. On the last pennant winning Cubs team (1945), another Bunions got significant playing time. His name was Heinz Becker. Becker had problems with his feet during his playing career, which is how he got the nickname. (Becker was referenced in Chicago columnist Mike Royko’s annual Cubs quiz on April 18, 1968: “Q: Which of these two players always had sore feet? Heinz Becker or the immortal Dominic Dallessandro? A: Becker had sore feet. Dallessandro had tiny feet. It used to take him twenty jumps to get out of the dugout.”) Born in Berlin, Germany in the midst of World War I, Becker got his chance to play in the big leagues because so many players were World War II draftees. Bunions spent most of his short career as a back up, but he did help the Cubs win the National League Pennant in 1945. He played in 3 games of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, singling and walking in three at bats. The Cubs traded him to the Indians the following spring.
~Brendan Harris 1980 (Cubs 2004)
Harris made his big league debut for the Cubs on July 6th of 2004, and before the month was over he was involved in a big trade. Harris was one of the players in the Nomar Garciaparra trade. Harris was a utility infielder in the big leagues for eight seasons with the Expos, Nationals, Reds, Rays, Twins and Angels.
~Tom Poholsky 1929 (Cubs 1957)
Poholsky pitched in the big leagues with the Cardinals for several seasons before the Cubs acquired in 1957. He had a very bad year in Chicago, winning only one game and losing seven, with an ERA of nearly five. For his career, Poholsky was more than 20 games under .500.
~Art Williams 1877 (Orphans 1902)
Williams was a backup outfielder/first baseman for the Cubs (then known as the Orphans) in his only big league season. He wasn’t much of a hitter, batting only .228 in 49 games.
~Chick Fraser 1873 (Cubs 1907-1909)
Chick was the old timer on the pitching staff of the only two Cubs World Series champion teams. He turned 35 during the 1908 season. He once no-hit the Cubs (1903) while pitching for the Phillies. Fraser was a headhunter, and is still 5th on the all-time hit batsmen list behind Walter Johnson, Eddie Plank, Randy Johnson, and Joe McGinnity. Fraser was summarily fired from the team in 1909 by Frank Chance, after Chance sent him home to Chicago to get his arm ready for a series, but discovered he hadn’t shown up at the ballpark at all. That was the end of his big league career.