Today’s Cubs Birthdays (September 17)
~Wildfire Schulte 1882–1949 (Cubs 1904-1916)
Wildfire (real name Frank) didn’t get his nickname for his style of play (although he stole home 22 times), or his tendency to hit the town (although Frank Chance used to chide him for that in the press). He got it because he named his favorite pony after his favorite Broadway show Wildfire (starring Lillian Russell), and soon it became his nickname too. Schulte was known as a bit of a flake, but his teammates loved him for it. Joe Tinker once said: “I doubt whether a quainter or more original character ever existed in the National Pastime.” One of his more bizarre eccentricities was that he had a thing for hairpins. He thought they were good luck, so he would search the streets for them. The bigger the hairpin, the better the luck. Wildfire wasn’t just a character, he was also a great player for the Cubs from 1904-1916, an era that spanned four NL pennants. He had a 13-game hitting streak in the World Series (and hit .321 overall in 91 World Series at-bats). He was the MVP of the league in 1911. He led the league in homers, triples, and RBI. In short, he was a superstar. Many years later, when Ty Cobb was an old man, he was asked what he remembered about Wildfire Schulte, his opponent in the 1907 and 1908 World Series. He said simply, “Schulte was one of the all-time greats.” Wildfire passed away in 1949 at the age of 67. (Photo: 1910 Baseball Card)
~Sheriff Blake 1899–1982 (Cubs 1924-1931)
Sheriff was a pretty common nickname before the war — there have been 13 baseball players who went by the name, but Cubs pitcher Sheriff Blake was the best. His real name was John Frederick Blake, and he was a pretty good starting pitcher for the Cubs, winning over 80 games with the team. In 1928, he led the league in shutouts, but he was also a little wild (he led the league in walks too). Blake pitched in relief during the 1929 World Series against the A’s…and unfortunately for him, he was the second (of three) pitchers in the seventh inning of the infamous 10-9 game where the Cubs blew an eight-run lead. Blake was the losing pitcher of that game.
~Thad Bosley 1956– (Cubs 1983-1986)
Bosley was a fourth outfielder for the Cubs, and a clutch pinch hitter. One year he hit .328 in that limited role. Unfortunately for the Cubs, when they used him as a pinch hitter during the 1984 playoffs, he struck out both times. Bosley was also a member of a funk band along with fellow ex-Cub Lenny Randle. After his playing career he went into coaching, becoming the head coach of a small college in Nebraska.
~Dan Haren 1980– (Cubs 2015)
The Cubs picked up the 3-time All-Star and 150-game winner at the trading deadline, and Haren took a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. In his eleven starts he posted a respectable 4-2 record with a 4.01 ERA. After the Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs, Haren announced his retirement.
~Jim Woods 1939– (Cubs 1957)
Woody, as he was known, was only 18 years old when he made his big league debut for his hometown Cubs. The recent Lane Tech grad didn’t get a chance to bat, but he appeared in two games as a pinch runner (for catcher Gordon Massa), and scored a run. Neither of those appearances were in front of his hometown fans. They were in Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Just a few years later he was part of the trade that brought Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn to the Cubs. Woods had a brief cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1960-1961, and hit three homers.
~Earl Webb 1897–1965 (Cubs 1927-1928)
Webb played a solid right field for the Cubs in 1927, but was a backup to KiKi Cuyler the next year. He also worked in one of William Wrigley’s mines in California in the offseason. His best years came with the Red Sox. He still holds the all-time record for doubles in a season (67) which he did with the Red Sox in 1931. After his playing career ended, he went back to work in the coal mines.