Today’s Cubs Birthdays (November 11)
~Rabbit Maranville 1891 (Cubs 1925)
Nicknamed for his speed and rabbit-like leaps, Rabbit Maranville was always a great fielder, but he was even better known for his partying. One time when he was on the Pirates, there was a ‘no drinking’ rule on the team (which was understandable considering it was against the law at the time). A teammate, Moses Yellowhorse, wouldn’t pitch unless he got something to drink. Maranville summoned the infield around, pulled a flask out of his pocket, and gave the pitcher a snort. He once took a pair of glasses out of his pocket, polished them, and handed them to an umpire. Another time (with the Cubs in spring training 1925) he was goofing around on the golf course with Charlie Grimm, who laid on his back and put a tee in his mouth with a ball on it, as a joke. Maranville hit the ball with a driver, scaring the hell out of Grimm. Another time he dove into a fishpond at the Buckingham hotel in St. Louis, and came out of the water with a goldfish in his mouth. Once when he was in New York, he arranged for pitcher Jack Scott to chase him through Times Square shouting”Stop Thief!” Another time his teammates heard wild noises coming from within his locked hotel room; screams, gunfire, breaking glass…..the Rabbit moaning “Eddie, your killing me!” It sounded like a murder in progress! When the door was finally broken down, the Rabbit and two accomplices paraded right by his shocked teammates as if nothing happened, with the Rabbit greeting them with a “Hiya fellas!” The first night after he became Cubs manager, he barged into the players Pullman cars and threw cold water on their faces, saying “there will be no sleeping under Maranville management”. That same night he got into a fight with a cab driver in New York after the Cubs arrived there over the cabbie grumbling about his tip. He had to be separated from the cabbie by the cops. After they separated him, he went after the cops and was arrested along with two of his players. He had no set rules for the team except that they couldn’t go to bed before him. Another time he held the Cubs traveling secretary out of a hotel window by his feet. Yet another time, and as it turns out, the final incident, he ran through the train throwing the contents of a spittoon at his players. With Rabbit as manager, the Cubs finished in last place for the first time in franchise history. He was fired after eight weeks. Rabbit played for another ten years (with Brooklyn, St. Louis and Boston), and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954. His real name was Walter.
~Scott May 1961 (Cubs 1991)
He was a September call up at the end of the 1991 season and appeared in two games. The righthanded reliever gave up six hits and four earned runs in only two innings (an ERA of 18.00). It was his last chance at the big leagues. He previously had a cup of coffee with the Rangers.
~Bert Abbey 1869 (Colts 1893-1894)
The pitcher was born in Vermont during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, and was a teetotaler. That didn’t go over so well with his Cubs (then known as the Colts) teammates. His manager Cap Anson was also one of the most racist people in baseball, but Abbey famously looked all the Negro porters in their eyes and tipped them into their hands instead of throwing money at their feet (which was the common practice at the time). His teammates also mocked him for that. Nevertheless, he probably would have stayed with Chicago if he had delivered on the field. He pitched for two seasons, won 4 games, and posted an ERA over 5.
~J. Ogden Armour 1862 (Cubs fan 1876-1927)
He became Chicago’s meat-packing king, the man skewered by Upton Sinclair in “The Jungle,” but he was also a big Cubs fan. He bought into the team for $50,000 and convinced a good buddy of his to the same; William Wrigley. The year was 1916, and those men along with former Whales owner Charlie Weeghman were the saviors of the Cubs…the men who got the dreaded, hated, Charles Murphy out of the game. At the time, J. Ogden Armour was one of the three richest men in Chicago. In 1916 Armour donated a mascot to the Cubs..a juvenile black bear. The bear was named “Joa” after Armour’s initials, and the team built him a “den” (actually a cage) at Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue. It was the first year the Cubs played at what was then known as Cubs Park. Joa debuted on June 20, 1916, for Cubs-Reds game. (It was rained out.) Joa lived there for most of that 1916 season, but by September the club realized he was more trouble than he was worth, and sold him to the Lincoln Park Zoo for twenty bucks. When the stock market slumped after World War 1, Armour did too, and he was forced to sell his portion of the Cubs. He was also forced out at the meat-packing business his father founded after he lost a million dollars a day for 130 days in a row. At that point, one of his friends offered him a million dollars as a loan, and he said, “thanks, but it wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket.” Armour wasn’t just a Cub fan. He was a Bud man. He once famously quipped: “I don’t suppose I shall ever be happy. Perhaps no one ever is. But the thing that would make me happiest just now would be to know that I could get roaring drunk and wander about the loop for two days without anyone paying any attention to me.” He saw his last Cubs game in 1923. He retired to California shortly after that. In 1927 on a trip to London, he fell ill and died. He had less than $25,000 in his personal accounts.