Today’s Cubs Birthdays (December 1)
~Javier Baez 1992– (Cubs 2014-Present)
Baez was the 9th overall pick of the 2011 draft: the last first round pick of the Jim Hendry era. At each level of the minors, Baez was a superstar, but when he joined the Cubs in August 2014, Javy struggled. Despite hitting a game-winning homer in his first game, he struck out in more than 40% of his at-bats and batted .169. In 2015 he wasn’t brought up to the big leagues until the end of the season, but he performed much better, playing second base primarily. Cubs fans began to get a taste of what was to come. In the 2015 playoffs, Baez hit a homer to help beat the Cardinals. Baez really became a stud in 2016. He hit 15 homers and stole 15 bases all while playing incredible jaw-dropping defense at multiple positions in the infield. By the time the playoffs arrived, Javy was the everyday second baseman. He responded by winning the NLCS MVP award. In 2017, Baez hit 23 homers and knocked in 75 runs. But it was his 2018 season which proved to be his best. Javy hit 40 doubles, 34 homers, stole 21 bases, clubbed nine triples, and led the Cubs with 111 RBI. Despite the Cubs’ early elimination in the playoffs, Baez was a finalist for NL MVP. In 2019, he was on the way to duplicating his ’18 season when he broke his thumb in early September. When Javy went down, so did the Cubs. They missed the playoffs for the first time in five years. (Photo: Topps 2013 Baseball Card)
~Dan Straily 1988 (Cubs 2014-Present)
Straily was acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Samardizja and Jason Hammel to Oakland. He appeared in only seven games for the Cubs in 2014 and was hit pretty hard (11.25 ERA). He won 10 games for the A’s in 2013.
~Tom Filer 1956 (Cubs 1982)
Filer was a righthanded starting pitcher who debuted in the big leagues with the Cubs in 1982. In eight starts he only won once. He later pitched for the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Mets.
~Lefty Sloat 1918 (Cubs 1949)
He was born just a few weeks after World War I ended, and his baseball career was interrupted by World War II. By the time Lefty made it to the big leagues, he was 30 years old. He appeared in five games for the Cubs, including one start. Lefty was knocked around. His ERA was 7, and he never appeared in the big leagues again.
~Mike Cvengros 1900 (Cubs 1929)
He was a lefthanded reliever for the pennant winning 1929 Cubs. Mike appeared in 32 games, and in a big year for hitting, he gave up his fair share of hits. On the other hand, Cvengros won five games and saved another. It was the last stop of his big league career. He had previously pitched for the Pirates (pennant winners in ’27), the White Sox, and the Giants.
~Ed Reulbach 1882 (Cubs 1905-1913)
Big Ed Reulbach was one of the best players on the Cubs during their dynasty in the first decade of the 20th century. He had double digit wins every season with the Cubs, including 24 wins in 1908. And he was clutch. Big Ed pitched a one-hitter in the 1906 World Series, and pitched two shutouts in one day Sept 26, 1908 (three days after the Merkle boner game). Some say he is one of the best pitchers of all-time not to make the Hall of Fame. (His career ERA was 2.28 in more than 2600 innings pitched). The Cubs eventually traded him in the middle of the 1913 season, and he retired in 1917. During his playing days, Reulbach was always overshadowed by the other great pitchers on the Cubs (like Mordecai Brown and Orval Overall), but he was also overshadowed in death. He died on the same day as Ty Cobb (July 17, 1961).
~Johnny O’Connor 1891 (Cubs 1916)
If his name sounds Irish, there’s a good reason for that. Johnny O’Connor was born in Ireland. He came to America and attended the University of Illinois. The catcher got one shot in the big leagues, and it wasn’t on offense. He came in as a defensive replacement on September 16, 1916, but was replaced by Art Wilson before he got a chance to bat. The game was in Philadelphia, and the Cubs lost to Grover Cleveland Alexander (his 29th win of the season) and the Phillies, 6-3.
~Charley Moore 1884 (Cubs 1912)
The Indiana boy appeared in five games for the Cubs at West Side Grounds in 1912. That was the only taste of the big time in his big league career. He went 2 for 9 with a triple, and played a little second, short, and third.
~Tommy Raub 1870 (Cubs 1903)
The jack-of-all-trades utility man played some catcher, first base, third base, and outfield for the Cubs in 1903; backing up the likes of Frank Chance and Johnny Kling. He hit .228 in 36 games.
~Cal Mclish 1925 (Cubs 1949, 1951)
Calvin Coolidge was the president at the time of McLish’s birth, and was widely regarded as the most boring man to ever serve in that capacity. Despite that, the young couple in Oklahoma named their son after him, and added a few more names for good measure. Not sure how they managed to fit it all on the birth certificate. The boy’s name was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. When he grew up, Cal McLish pitched for the Chicago Cubs (in 1949 and 1951). His time with the Cubs was nothing to write home about, but he blossomed a few years later. In 1958 he won 16 games for the Cleveland Indians. In 1959, he won 19, and was named to the All-Star team. McLish passed away in 2010 in his native Oklahoma.