Today’s Cubs Birthdays (December 9)
~Darold Knowles 1941 (1975-1976)
After being acquired in the trade of Cub icon Billy Williams, Knowles became a mentor for a young Bruce Sutter in the bullpen for the Cubs. Knowles had been a key member of the bullpen for the Oakland A’s dynasty in the early 70s, but when he pitched for the Cubs in 1975, his command suddenly disappeared and was lit up like a Christmas tree (5.81 ERA). He had a much better season in 1976, but during the off-season he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Gene Clines. (Photo: Topps 1977 Baseball Card)
~Todd Van Poppel 1971 (Cubs 2000-2001)
The former first rounder hadn’t really put it together in his previous stops in Oakland, Detroit, Texas or Pittsburgh. In fact, he had spent the entire previous season in the minors with the Pirates. But Van Poppel turned himself into a pretty good relief pitcher in his stint with the Cubs. Todd appeared in over 100 games, winning eight and saving two, with a very respectable ERA. In fact, he parlayed that Cubs stint into a big free agent contract with the Rangers.
~Mike Fyhrie 1969 (Cubs 2001)
Mike appeared in 15 games for the Cubs in 2001, but was traded to Oakland midseason that year. He pitched for four different teams in his five year career.
~Steve Christmas 1957 (Cubs 1986)
The journeyman backup catcher got into a grand total of three games for the Cubs at the beginning of the 1986 season. He got one hit in nine at bats before being sent down to the minors, never to return.
~Rick Bladt 1946 (Cubs 1969)
The Cubs were looking for a centerfielder the whole year in 1969, and Rick was one of the guys brought up to play there. They hoped to catch lightning in a bottle. They didn’t. Rick only hit .154 and was sent back down to the minors. He didn’t make it back up to the big leagues until 1975 (with the Yankees).
~Mike Mitchell 1879 (Cubs 1913)
The Cubs traded their Hall of Famer Joe Tinker to the Reds to get Mitchell. He was a speedy outfielder who hit tons of triples (88 in six seasons) and stole lots of bases (165 in six seasons) with the Reds. Not so much with the Cubs. He was cut loose by the Cubs before the season was over.