Today’s Cubs Birthdays (September 11)
~Ray Grimes 1893 (Cubs 1922-1925)
Ray Grimes was an instant phenom for the Cubs when he joined them for his rookie season of 1922. He was an absolute RBI machine, one of the great clutch hitters of his era. During that season he set a record that still stands today when he got an RBI in seventeen consecutive games. During that streak he was so “in the zone” that he was unconscious. In 66 at bats, he had 28 hits, including eight doubles, two triples, three homers, and 27 RBI. The Cubs thought they had a first baseman that would hold down the position for a decade. The Sporting News said: “He’s about the best looking first sacker to wear a Cubs uniform since Frank Chance.” Unfortunately for Ray and the Cubs, his sophomore season was an entirely different experience. In May of 1923, he badly dislocated his back sliding into second base; a very serious injury. Instead of taking the time to recuperate, he rushed back onto the field a few weeks later, and re-injured himself. That put him out for two months. It was an injury he couldn’t quite shake. The following season he started off well too, but was reinjured in June, and by July 8th of the following year, the Cubs decided they didn’t need him anymore. By then they had another first baseman (Harry Cotter). Ray Grimes–their great hope of only a few years earlier–was released. In his four seasons in Chicago he hit .321, .354, .329, and .299. He re-surfaced briefly in 1926 on the Phillies, and could still hit (.297), but his back simply wouldn’t allow him to play on a regular basis. Ray Grimes became another “what could have been” story in a long line of them for the Chicago Cubs.
~Larry Cox 1947 (Cubs 1978)
One of the three catchers for the 1978 Cubs, Larry Cox hit .281 in just over a hundred at-bats. In a combined 450 at-bats, starter Dave Rader and his backups Larry Cox and Tim Blackwell managed to hit only five home runs. After his playing career ended, Cox coached for the Cubs. He was on the coaching staff of the division winning 1989 Cubs. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack after the season at the very young age of 42.
~Dave Roberts (Cubs 1978)
How can you tell the difference between the utility man Dave Roberts who played for the Padres, Rangers, Astros and Phillies during the same era (the 70s), and our Dave Roberts, the pitcher? Simple. Our Dave Roberts had the courage to grow a big bushy mustache. Roberts got knocked around pretty good during his year with the Cubs (1978), but he also won a World Series championship the following year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Roberts is in the top five of several career categories for Jewish pitchers, behind only the likes of Sandy Koufax, Ken Holtzman, and Steve Stone. His other claim to fame was giving up the very last hit and RBI of Hank Aaron’s career.
~Andrew Cashner 1986 (Cubs 2010-2011)
Cashner was a Cubs first round pick in 2008, and came up to the big club just two years later. He appeared in 53 games as a reliever and showed flashes of brilliance, mixed with a few really bad appearances. There was little doubt, however, that he was a key piece of their pitching future. That is, until the new braintrust came aboard. They traded him to San Diego shortly after they took the reigns, and that was a trade few Cub fans will regret. In return for Cashner, the Cubs got Anthony Rizzo.
~Mike Gordon 1953 (Cubs 1977-1978)
Gordon came up with the Cubs a few times as an emergency catcher, but he only got into twelve games over two seasons. Gordon came up to bat 35 times and only got two hits.
~Barney Olsen 1919 (Cubs 1941)
Barney was a Cub for the last two months of the 1941 season. They actually gave him a decent shot at playing at the end of the year. The 22-year-old centerfielder hit .288, and played well. But he spent the entire 1942 season in the minors and then was drafted into the military. Olsen played in the minors again after the war, but never made it back up to the show.
~Con Daily 1864 (Colts 1896)
Daily was born before Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. Con (short for Cornelius) was a catcher, outfielder and first baseman and had a good big league career before he came to Chicago as a 32-year-old. He hit .074 in nine games for the Cubs (then known as the Colts), and that was it for his days in the big leagues. His brother Ed played in the majors too.
~Tom Dreesen 1945 (Cubs fan 1945-present)
Does Tom Dreesen really need to give his credentials anymore as a true blue Cubs fan? If you question his ivy cred, consider the following…
*When Harry Caray had his stroke in 1987, Tom was one of the celebrities brought into the booth to fill in for him. He was already Harry’s friend at the time.
*In George Castle’s book “I Remember Harry Caray,” Dreesen told some of his favorite Harry Caray stories. This one is my favorite: “I saw Harry before the game and he told me he hadn’t had a drink in two years…He said ‘You know all that stuff, that people tell you can have just as much fun not drinking as you can have drinking? They’re full of s***. I’ve never been so bored in all my life.'”
*He has sung “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” more than ten times.
*One of those times he threw a hundred one dollar bills into the crowd and yelled “Have a beer on Harry Caray.” Tom relates what happened next: “The next day, some radio guy said I’d been throwing 20s and 50s, and sure enough, people started calling in saying they’d gotten one of the fifties. I wasn’t about to tell anyone I hadn’t been that charitable.”
*He wrote the introduction to the book “Cubbies: Quotations and the Chicago Cubs”
*He has spoken openly of the hardship of being a Cubs fan that grew up on the South Side of Chicago (actually Harvey).
*He has been on hand to help lead rallies when the Cubs won their division.
*And finally, my favorite Tom Dreesen quote about the Cubs. He said this in 2006: “Our hope is always that this is the year. I have two thoughts on this. First of all, there are less suicides among Cubs’ fans than any other fandom in America because we always think well maybe this will be the year. So I worry that if the Cubs ever win the World Series the following day 20,000 people will leap off of the top of the Tribune Tower. There are Cubs fans everywhere.”
Now that’s a Cubs fan.