Today’s Cubs Birthdays (October 24)
~Ned Williamson 1857 (White Stockings 1879-1889)
Williamson was Chicago’s star shortstop/third baseman during the 1880s. He thrilled the fans with his home runs, and was arguably the game’s first home run hero. In 1884 he hit 27 in one 112 game season. That was the record for 35 years. It wasn’t broken until 1919 by a little known slugger/pitcher named Babe Ruth. Of course, Ned’s record came with an asterisk. During the 19th century the ground rules were made by each home team. Ned’s manager Cap Anson declared that balls hit over a certain part of his field were to be declared homers. That just happened to be where Ned hit 25 of his 27 homers that season. The next season the team moved to West Side Grounds and Ned’s power suddenly disappeared. On the other hand, Ned was no fluke. He also set the record for doubles with 49 in 1883, and was a key member of the Chicago team that won five championships that decade. His baseball career was still going strong until Albert Spalding organized a world tour to promote the game in 1889. While the team played in Paris, Ned injured his knee. He was never the same after that. Just four years after his playing career ended, Williamson contracted tuberculosis and died at age 36. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.
~Bill Hayes 1957 (Cubs 1980-1981)
In 1978 Tom Brunansky was taken right after the Cubs picked Bill Hayes. Brunansky led his team to the World Series. Hayes got nine big league at-bats. The catcher got two hits and struck out three times.
~Rawly Eastwick 1950 (Cubs 1981)
Rawly was the shutdown closer for the Big Red Machine team that won two World Series for Cincinnati (1975-1976). By the time he came to Chicago five years later he was a shell of his former self. He actually pitched fairly well (2.28 ERA in 43 innings), but the Cubs released him just before the 1982 season and nobody gave Eastwick another chance.
~John Goetz 1937 (Cubs 1960)
The 22-year-old broke camp with the Cubs in April of 1960, but didn’t last long. By May he was back in the minors. Those four appearances he had for the Cubs in 1960 were the only ones of his career. He spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues.
~Jack Russell 1905 (Cubs 1938-1939)
Russell was a two-time saves leader and an all-star with the Senators before coming to the Cubs. The reliever pitched pretty well for the Cubs during their 1938 World Series year. He even got into two games of that series and was one of the rare Cubs pitchers who performed well. In all he pitched 15 years in the big leagues, and was an incredible 56 games UNDER .500 (85-141).
~Eddie Stack 1887 (Cubs 1913-1914)
Eddie pitched for Chicago two seasons while they were still at the old West Side Grounds ballpark. The righthander appeared in eighteen games over those two seasons, and won 4. After he retired from baseball, Eddie settled in the Chicago area, and is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside.
~Jim Brosnan 1929 (Cubs 1954-1958)
Brosnan helped set a record on April 24, 1957. The Cubs were playing the Reds in Cincinnati on a cold day in front of only 7212 fans at Crosley Field. Moe Drabowsky had cruised through the Reds order in the first four innings, making only one mistake–a ball that was hit out of the park by Reds left fielder Bob Thurman. The Cubs were leading the game 2-1 when the Reds came up in the bottom of the fifth. Moe was facing the bottom of the order for the Reds. He got the number 6 hitter, (future Cub) catcher Ed Bailey, on a routine fly. That’s when the Polish Prince fell apart. He walked the #7 hitter, third baseman Don Hoak. He walked the #8 hitter, shortstop Roy McMillan. And then he walked the pitcher Joe Nuxtall to load the bases. Cubs manager Bob Scheffing didn’t see this collapse coming, so he got his bullpen up a little late, and was forced to let Moe work to another hitter. The lead-off man Alex Grammas was replaced by pinch hitter Jerry Lynch. Moe walked him too…tying the game at 2.
Scheffing had seen enough. The next hitter was Bob Thurman who had hit a home run his last time up to bat. He couldn’t risk giving up a grand slam, so he pulled Drabowsky from the game and brought in reliever Jackie Collum. In one way, it worked out. Collum didn’t give up a grand slam. He did, however, give up another walk, the fifth of the inning, making the score 3-2. The next batter Centerfielder Gus Bell should have been taking all the way, but he helped out Collum by grounding out to first for the second out. With first base open, and two outs, the Cubs opted to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Wally Post to reload the bases, the sixth walk of the inning. All Collum needed was a simple ground ball and the Cubs would have escaped with minimal damage. The good news is he got that ground ball. The bad news is it went through the infield, and scored two more runs.
After Collum reloaded the bases by walking another batter for the seventh walk of the inning, he was replaced by Jim Brosnan. Brosnan only needed to get one batter, and with the bases loaded, there was a force at any base. Naturally, Brosnan walked the same batter Drabowsky walked to start the onslaught–the #7 hitter, Don Hoak. And he walked the 8th hitter in the lineup, Roy McMillan too, for the ninth walk of the inning.Finally, and mercifully, with the bases still loaded, Brosnan struck out the pitcher Joe Nuxhall for the third out. By the time the inning was over, a one run lead had turned into a six run deficit. In one inning the Reds managed to score seven runs on one hit, thanks to a still-record nine walks in one inning. Ironically, Brosnan later became the closer for the Cincinnati Reds and led to them to the 1961 World Series. (Photo: Topps 1957 Baseball Card)