Today’s Cubs Birthdays (May 22)
~Coleman Griffith 1893–1966 (Cubs psychologist 1938)
In 1938, University of Illinois psychologist Coleman Griffith was asked by PK Wrigley to do a complete psychological analysis of the Cubs for a project he called “Experimental Laboratories of the Chicago National League Ball Club.” Naturally, his first target was manager Charlie Grimm. “Jolly Cholly” wasn’t exactly receptive. When Grimm was replaced in July by player/manager Gabby Hartnett, a man later declared as the winner of the “Drizzlepus Derby” as grumpiest manager in baseball by one Chicago paper, Griffith could have folded up his tent and quit, but he didn’t. He wrote a paper explaining “pepper” to the future Hall of Famer. He pointed out in another paper that there was no such thing as “instinct.” Somehow, and this is also going to be a big shock, his information was not exactly embraced by the players. The 1938 Cubs were a veteran team (average age: nearly 30). With future Hall of Famers like Dizzy Dean and Tony Lazzeri on the roster, they were not the prototypical audience for experimental psychological research. Griffith also didn’t help his cause with his analysis of the players. For instance, he used a very complex statistical model to show that Phil Cavaretta should be traded because he would never amount to anything. People made fun of Wrigley for using Griffith that year, but on the other hand, the Cubs did go to the World Series in 1938. Wrigley really wanted him to come back full-time for the 1939 season, but Griffith wanted to spend more time with his family in Urbana.
The “headshrinker” who tells the players in the book/movie The Natural that “losing is a disease” was surely inspired by Griffith. Ironically, as widely mocked as this idea was in 1938, every big league team today has a psychologist on staff. And every big league club uses statistical analysis to assess their players.
~Jaye Chapman 1987– (Cubs 2012)
He appeared in 14 games in 2002 and had a 3.75 ERA, but he walked 10 in only 12 innings of work. The Cubs got him in the trade that also brought Arodys Vizcaino from the Braves for Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm, and cash. But after getting crushed in Iowa during the 2013 season, he was let go by the Cubs. He’s now back in the Braves organization.
~Chad Tracy 1980– (Cubs 2010)
Tracy only played a portion of 2010 with the Cubs, but was here long enough to make an impact on one little boy. He hit .250 in limited at bats filling in for Aramis Ramirez at 3B. The Cubs released him on July 1st of that year.
~Jim Colborn 1946– (Cubs 1969-1971)
Colborn couldn’t crack the Cubs rotation during his formative big league years, but he broke out in a big way when he arrived in Milwaukee. In 1973 he was an All-Star, won 20 games, and had a sparkling 3.18 ERA. Colborn could never quite recreate that success, but he did win another 50+ games, including 18 with the 1977 Kansas City Royals. Cubs fans shouldn’t be too upset about Colborn’s success. The player the Cubs acquired in exchange for Colborn was fan favorite Jose Cardenal.
~Frank Coggins 1944–1994 (Cubs 1972)
Frank appeared in six games for the Cubs in 1972. In his last appearance with the Cubs (and in the big leagues) on July 30, 1972, he came in during the 8th inning to pinch hit for catcher Ken Rudolph. Coggins managed to coax a walk. He scored the tying run on a Glenn Beckert double, and Jim Hickman scored behind him for the winner, as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-4.
~Julian Tavarez 1973– (Cubs 2001)
Tavarez was part of the Cubs rotation during the 2001 season, and for a while, actually pitched quite well. He tailed off at the end of the year but still finished with 10 wins. After the season he was part of the package of players sent to the Marlins (along with Dontrelle Willis) to acquire starter Matt Clement and closer Antonio Alfonseca. Tavarez pitched in the big leagues for 17 seasons (for the Indians, Giants, Rockies, Marlins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Braves, and Nationals), and won a World Series ring with the 2007 Boston Red Sox (although he didn’t pitch in that series). He did pitch in two other World Series (one with the Indians, and another with the Cardinals).
~Mel Kerr 1903–1980 (Cubs 1925)
Kerr is one of only two Manitobans to play in the big leagues — but his time was incredibly brief. His entire career can be described as follows: He came in as a pinch runner for Tommy Griffith, who had gotten a single as a pinch hitter. Kerr scored a run, but it was too little too late, and the Cubs lost 8-6 to Boston.
~Hooks Cotter 1900–1955 (Cubs 1922-1924)
He only had one AB in 1922 (and hit a double), but he had an extended look in 1924 at first base, and hit .261 filling in for injured Cubs first baseman Ray Grimes.
~Hooks Warner 1894–1947 (Cubs 1921)
You’d think with a nickname like Hooks that he had to be a curveball pitcher, but he wasn’t at all. Hooks was a third baseman. He hit .211 in 38 at-bats for the Cubs. He had previously played for the Pirates.