Today’s Cubs Birthdays (September 19)
~Mike Royko 1932 (Cubs fan 1932-1997)
Few Chicagoans were more closely associated with the Chicago Cubs than Mike Royko. As a columnist for the Daily News, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Chicago Tribune, he often wrote about his favorite team; bleeding Cubbie blue right onto the page. Other than a brief period when he became a Sox fan to protest the grotesque buffoonery of Dave Kingman, (one year–1980–he swore his allegiance on Bill Veeck’s wooden leg), Mike Royko was a Cubs fan from cradle to grave. On October 25, 1972, the day that Jackie Robinson died, Royko recalled witnessing Jackie’s first game at Wrigley Field. He was merely a boy then, but his recollections were chilling. Here’s a brief taste of that column…
“Robinson played first, and early in the game a Cub star hit a grounder and it was a close play. Just before the Cub reached first, he swerved to his left. And as he got to the bag, he seemed to slam his foot down hard at Robinson’s foot. It was obvious to everyone that he was trying to run into him or spike him. Robinson took the throw and got clear at the last instant. I was shocked. That Cub, a hometown boy, was my biggest hero.”
But Royko also got a souvenir that day…
“Late in the game, Robinson was up again, and he hit another foul ball. This time it came into the stands low and fast, in our direction. Somebody in the seats grabbed for it, but it caromed off his hand and kept coming. There was a flurry of arms as the ball kept bouncing, and suddenly it was between me and my pal. We both grabbed. I had a baseball.”
He sold it for $10. How did the die-hard Cub fan feel about the 1969 Cubs?
“New York didn’t need that 1969 pennant…all Cub fans wanted was that one measly pennant. It would have kept us happy until the twenty-first century. But New York took that from us and I can never forgive that.”
In 1984, when the Cubs needed to win only one more game in San Diego to clinch their first pennant since World War II, Royko taunted the Padres and their fans in his column. Needless to say, that didn’t work out so well. Yet he remained a die-hard fan. After Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray had a heart attack in the late 1980s, Rokyo took a turn in the team’s booth as guest announcer. He constantly tracked the team and everything associated with them. Just prior to the 1990 World Series he wrote about the findings of another fan, Ron Berler, who had discovered a correlation called the “Ex-Cubs Factor”. He predicted that the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics would lose the Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The accuracy of that unlikely prediction, in stunning fashion (four game sweep) propelled the Ex-Cubs Factor theory into the spotlight. Royko is often associated with that theory because he helped popularize it. (By the way, it was proven incorrect by the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks) His last column in the Chicago Tribune appeared in March 1997, a month before his death. His memorial service was held at the only fitting place for such an event; a sunny day in Wrigley Field.
~Scott Baker 1981 (Cubs 2013)
Baker was a former 15-game winner coming off arm surgery when the Cubs signed him. He rehabbed for an entire year on the Cubs dime, and came back at the end of the year for three appearances. The Cubs wanted to re-sign him, but Baker opted to go Texas instead. In 2014 he pitched mainly out of the bullpen for Texas.
~Phil Stephenson 1960 (Cubs 1989)
He played his college ball at Wichita State and set a hitting streak record (47 games) that was later broken by Robin Ventura. Stephenson came up with the Cubs as a 28-year-old rookie in 1989, but the lefthanded first baseman/outfielder didn’t get a lot of playing time before being sent to San Diego as the player to be named later in the Darrin Jackson/Calvin Schiraldi for Marvell Wynne/Luis Salazar trade. He got a lot more playing time with the Padres in 1990, but didn’t respond well, hitting only .209 for the season. Phil is now a college coach in Kansas.
~Buddy Schultz 1950 (Cubs 1975-1976)
Buddy also set a college record. He struck out 26 batters in a game for Miami of Ohio. Schultz was a lefthanded reliever for the Cubs for parts of two seasons, but didn’t have a tremendous amount of success. His ERA in his Cubs years was over 6 (although he did get two saves). After the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals, he blossomed and had a few very good seasons with St. Louis.
~Randy Myers 1962 (Cubs 1993-1995)
Randy had a very good stretch with the Cubs in the 90s. He set the Cubs save record with 53 saves in 1993, and was an all-star in both 1994 and 1995. Despite Randy’s 100+ save career in Chicago, he’s probably best remembered for two incidents. The first one was the day the Cubs staged “Randy Myers Day”. 10,000 Randy Myers posters were handed out to the fans as they arrived, and nearly all 10,000 of them came raining onto the field after Randy blew the save that day. The other incident happened during one of Randy’s rare bad stretches. A fan came running onto the field to “fight” Randy for blowing a save. Randy clocked him with one punch. (That fan later sold the “It can happen” signs in 2008) (Photo: Topps 1994 Baseball Card)