Today’s Cubs Birthdays (November 4)
~Dick Selma 1943 (Cubs 1969)
He was nicknamed Mortimer Snerd by his teammates after Edgar Bergen’s famous dummy. Selma was a key member of the 1969 Cubs. He won 10 games for them and led the staff in strike outs per nine innings after being acquired from the Padres. Selma became a fan favorite almost instantly because he led the Bleacher Bums in cheers from the bullpen. But 1969 was his only year with the Cubs. He was a part of the much lamented trade that brought Johnny Callison to the Cubs. The trade isn’t lamented because Johnny Callison was pretty much done (which he was) or because Dick Selma pitched pretty well for the Phillies for a few more years (which he did), but because the Cubs threw young slugger Oscar Gamble into the deal, and Gamble went on to become a star. Selma passed away in 2001 at the way too young age of 58.
~John Grabow 1978 (Cubs 2009-2011)
Grabow was a very effective lefthanded reliever with the Pirates for several seasons, so the Cubs went out and got him via trade (along with Tom Gorzelany). As soon as he arrived in Chicago, however, Grabow started to get knocked around pretty well. He developed arm problems, and missed a good chunk of the 2010 season. His last year in the big leagues was with the Cubs in 2011. In retrospect, that wasn’t a very good trade for the Cubs. They sent a few prospects to Pittsburgh in that deal, including future all-star Josh Harrison.
~Angel Salazar 1961 (Cubs 1988)
The Venezuelan shortstop played for the Royals and Expos before joining the Cubs as a backup in 1988. He backed up Shawon Dunston, Vance Law, and even Ryne Sandberg occasionally. That was the last year of his big league career.
~Carl Sawatski 1927 (Cubs 1948-1953)
Swats or Swisher, as he was known by his teammates, was a backup catcher for the Cubs. His time in Chicago was interrupted by military service during the Korean War, so he really only played parts of three seasons with the Cubs. He later played for the White Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals (always as a backup), and was a member of the 1957 World Champion Milwaukee Braves. After his playing career he became the president of the Texas League (minors).
~Emil Kush 1916 (Cubs 1941-1949)
Emil was born in Chicago during the Cubs first season at Wrigley Field, played his entire big league career with the Cubs, and died a few months after they broke our hearts in 1969. Kush was a Chicago boy, through and through. The righthanded pitcher was a valuable member of the bullpen during the years after the war. Unfortunately for him, he missed the World Series season of 1945 because he was serving in the US Navy.
~Tommy Leach 1877 (Cubs 1912-1914)
He arrived in Chicago in 1912 in exchange for two key members of the 1910 World Series Cubs team (King Cole & Solly Hofman). Leach was a renowned hitter–with a lifetime on-base percentage of .340. He had previously led the league in runs, triples, and homers with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was part of their 1909 World Champion team. Tommy still had a few more good seasons in the tank. With the Cubs he led the league in runs again, stole more than 50 bases, and hit more than 90 extra base hits in two and half seasons.
~Tom Hernon 1866 (Colts 1897)
Tom spent most of his career in the minor leagues, but did get a brief cup of coffee with the Cubs (then known as the Colts) at the end of the 1897 season. He was 30 years old at the time–and didn’t quite seize the day. In his four games in the lineup as the team’s leftfielder, Hernon hit only .063. He died of Bright’s Disease in 1902 at the age of 35.
~Eric Karros 1967 (Cubs 2003)
Karros only played with the Cubs for one year, but it was quite a year–the year the Cubs were within five outs of going to the World Series. When he wasn’t playing in the games, Karros was filming the historic moments from inside the Cubs dugout. He also took home a souvenir (photo). He unveiled it on the air while he was broadcasting the 2014 playoffs–a Cubs cap with a 2003 World Series logo embroidered in the side. It was in his locker during Game 6 of that series, but obviously never worn. The former Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers played pretty well in his only Cubs season. He hit 12 homers while splitting time at first base with midseason acquisition Randall Simon.