Today’s Cubs Birthdays (December 4)
Lee Smith 1957 (Cubs 1980-1987)
When Big Lee came up with the Cubs in 1980, he was a starting pitcher. They moved him to the closer role after they floundered in 1981 after the trade that sent Bruce Sutter to the Cardinals. Big Lee turned out to be one of the most consistent closers in Cubs history. From 1982-1987 he saved an average of 30 games a year. He led the league in 1982, was named to the All-Star team in 1983 and 1987, and led the Cubs to the playoffs in 1984 (although he did give up that heartbreaking homer to Steve Garvey that postseason). The Cubs traded Lee for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi after the 1987 season; one of the worst trades in their history. Nipper pitched one season for the Cubs and won 2 games. Schiraldi lasted 1 ½ seasons, and won 12 games. Lee Smith saved 300 more games in his career, while the Cubs floundered at the closer position for years. In the next seventeen years, the Cubs had 15 different closers. (Photo: Topps 1982 Baseball Card)
~Jerome Williams 1981 (Cubs 2005-2006)
The Cubs got him the trade that sent Latroy Hawkins to San Francisco. They gave the former Giant a shot at being in their rotation, and Williams responded with a decent season. In 18 starts, he won 6 and posted a 3.91 ERA. The following season, however, he was pounded. The Cubs sent him to the minors, and then waived him. Williams later pitched for the Nationals, Rangers, Astros, Angels, and Phillies.
~Harvey Kuenn 1930 (Cubs 1965-1966)
Harvey came up as a shortstop and had a tremendous start to his career with the Tigers. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1953, and appeared in eight straight all-star games. By the time he came to the Cubs in the mid-60s, he was at the tail end of his career. By then he was a part-time outfielder. The Cubs traded him to the Phillies at the beginning of the 1966 season and Kuenn finished his career in Philadelphia. His career batting average was .303 and he only struck out 404 times in over 7600 big league plate appearances. After his playing days were over, Harvey went into managing. He’ll always be remembered in Milwaukee for leading the Brewers to their only American League pennant.
~Jim Moroney 1883 (Cubs 1912)
The lefthanded pitcher got three very brief tastes of the big time with three different teams, the last of which was the Cubs. He appeared in ten games for the Cubs in 1912, the final season of Tinker to Evers to Chance, and posted an ERA of 4.56. He previously pitched for the Phillies (1910) and Braves (1906).