Today’s Cubs Birthdays (October 7)
~Chuck Klein 1904 (Cubs 1934-1935)
Chuck Klein had two great nicknames: “The Hoosier Hammer” and “The Clouting Kraut”. The Hoosier part of his nickname came from his Indiana roots, and the Kraut part, of course, came from his German heritage. Needless to say, the hammer and clouting parts of those nicknames were inspired by his propensity to hit home runs. The Cubs got the big slugger just after he won the Triple Crown, the first time anyone had ever traded a Triple Crown winner. The Phillies obviously recognized that his stats were padded by playing in a ballpark with a ridiculously short right field porch. Once he joined the Cubs, he suffered a series of injuries. He drove in only 80 and 73 runs in his years spent with the Cubbies. On the other hand, Klein did help Chicago to a World Series in 1935, and hit .333 in that Series (the Cubs lost in six games to the Tigers). After he was traded back to the Phillies, he hit four home runs in his first game back. Ah, there’s nothing like a short right field porch. Chuck Klein was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1980, 22 years after his death.
~Larry Himes 1940 (Cubs GM 1991-1994)
Yes, he acquired Sammy Sosa in a steal of a trade with the White Sox (for George Bell), but Larry will always be remembered for letting Greg Maddux walk away after the 1992 season. In retrospect, that was one of the top five worst decisions ever made by Cubs general managers.
~Morrie Steevens 1940 (Cubs 1962)
The lefty reliever made the Cubs out of spring training in 1962, and debuted against his favorite childhood team the Cardinals in April. Steevens gave up a two-run double to Bill White. He was only 21 years old at the time. He pitched a few more times before the Cubs sent him down to the minors. They didn’t bring him back up until September. All told, the rookie appeared in twelve games and had a respectable ERA of 2.40. That was it for his Cubs career. He later also pitched for the Phillies.
~Sammy Drake 1934 (Cubs 1960-1961)
Drake was a speedster who used mainly as a pinchrunner by the Cubs in parts of two seasons. Unfortunately for Drake, he wasn’t much of a hitter. He only got one hit as a Cub.
~Grady Hatton 1922 (Cubs 1960)
Hatton was an all-star second baseman, and a rare breed for his era–an infielder with power. Naturally all of that occured before he came to the Cubs. He was 37 years old when he joined Chicago for the last 28 at bats of his career.
~Red Adams 1921 (Cubs 1946)
Adams starred for the Cubs minor league affiliate in Los Angeles while the Cubs were winning the pennant in Chicago in 1945. He won 21 games that year. The Cubs brought him up in 1946, and he ran into a buzzsaw. In eight appearances Adams posted an ERA over 8. He had to settle for starring in the minor leagues after that. Adams never returned to the show.
~Charlie Fox 1921 (Cubs manager 1983)
Fox never played for the Cubs (he was a Giant), but he did get the call from general manager Dallas Green to manage the Cubs at the tail end of the 1983 season after Lee “it’s a playground for the c*********” Elia was fired. The Cubs went 17-22 under his tutelage on their way to a 5th place finish. The following season Jim Frey was at the helm, and the Cubs came ever so close to winning the NL pennant.
~Frank Baumholtz 1918 (Cubs 1949, 1951-1955)
Frank was the starting centerfielder with the Cubs, and he had his work cut out for him during most of those years. Leftfielder Ralph Kiner combined with the equally slow Hank Sauer in right, so the Cubs outfield might have been the worst fielding outfield the Cubs ever had. Kiner joked that both he and Sauer used to scream “You got it, Frankie” every time the ball was hit in the air. Frankie was alos a pretty good hitter. In 1952 his .325 average was second in the league.
~Fred Fussell 1895 (Cubs 1922-1923)
Fussell may not have been a great big leaguer with the Cubs (4-6 with an ERA over 5), but he had one of the all-time great nicknames. His teammates called him “Moonlight Ace”.
~Ernie Ovitz 1885 (Cubs 1911)
If you want to go back in time to watch Ernie Ovitz pitch, simply set the wayback machine to June 22, 1911 and go to West Side Grounds in Chicago. The Cubs were getting whalloped that day by the Pirates and the University of Illinois product was brought in to pitch the last two innings. Among the players he faced: Hall of Famer Honus Wagner.
~Frank Donnelly 1869 (Colts 1893-1894)
How long ago did Frank Donnelly pitch for the Cubs (then known as the Colts)? There is no record of whether he was a righthander or a lefty. What is known is that he wasn’t very good. In eight appearances his ERA was over 6.
~Jose Cardenal 1943 (Cubs 1972-1977)
Jose Cardenal was one of the most colorful players to wear a Cubs uniform. With his gigantic afro, his hat tucked into his back pocket, and his crouched batting stance and running style, he was easy to spot. But he was also an interesting guy, prone to some rather unusual on and off-the-field incidents.
*In 1972, Cardenal declared himself unfit to play because crickets in his hotel room had kept him awake all night.
*In 1973, he attempted to steal home and ran right into Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins who was batting at the time. Fergie was knocked to the ground, jammed an index finger in the process, and had to be removed from the game.
*On the opening day of the 1974 season, Jose said that he couldn’t play because his eyelid was stuck open. Apparently, he’d ‘slept funny and couldn’t blink’. That’s right, it was stuck open, not closed.
*In 1975, Jose was taken to the Jefferson Park police station and charged with resisting arrest after an altercation at O’Hare Airport. His wife had gone to the airport to pick him up after a road trip, and security had told her three times that she had to move the car because it was parked illegally. When Jose got there, his wife was having a heated argument with a cop. Jose took the cop’s nightstick and hit him in the head with it. (He later filed a $750,000 lawsuit against the city–charging police brutality, and it was settled out of court.)
*Though he left Cuba legally (in 1961, at the age of 16), he did not see his family again until 1979, after his 18-year major league career had ended. In the intervening years, Cardenal’s appearance changed so much that his own mother once bumped into him in an airport – and didn’t recognize him.
He may have been mercurial, but Jose Cardenal was a crowd favorite throughout his Cubs years. Though he played for other teams in other towns and coached for other teams in other towns, he always considered Chicago his American home. That’s not idle speculation. That’s backed up by this first person account. (Photo: Topps 1975 Baseball Card)