A tribute to Bushes, Forrests, Trees, and Woods in honor of Arbour Day…
~Guy Bush 1901 (Cubs 1923-1934)
The Mississippi Mudcat got his nickname because he came from Mississippi and had a very strange delivery. It was described like this by F.C. Lane in Baseball Magazine (1930): “On the hurling mound (Guy) Bush has developed a curious ‘hop-toad’ lunge that is unique. When he really bears down on the ball, he actually springs forward and finishes up in a squat position like a catcher reaching for a low pitch.” He won 150+ games for the Cubs, as a starter and reliever (he led the league in relief wins 4 times). On May 4, 1927 he pitched 18 innings in one game, when the Cubs beat the Braves 7-2. He started and won Game 3 of the 1929 World Series against the A’s, giving up only one run. He also pitched Game 1 of 1932 Series against the Yankees, but this time the results weren’t quite as good. He was shelled for eight earned runs in less than six innings. The Cubs traded him to Pittsburgh in 1935. Bush always said the secret to his success was a “secret dark liniment” that the Cubs trainer rubbed into his arm. He didn’t find out until after he was traded that the secret liniment was only Coca Cola. On May 25, 1935, he came in as a relief pitcher for the Pirates against the Boston Braves. In that game he gave up the last two home runs in Babe Ruth’s career. (Photo: 1933 Goudy Baseball Card)
~Smoky Burgess 1927 (Cubs 1949-1951)
His real name was Forrest Harrill Burgess, but no-one called him that. He was Smoky Burgess, a five-time National League All-Star. He was a very good catcher, but he became even better known as one of the best pinch hitters of his era. He retired with a record 507 pinch at-bats. Only Lenny Harris, Mark Sweeney, and Manny Mota have more than Burgess’s 145 pinch hits. Unfortunately, none of that happened with the Cubs because they traded him after his second season in the majors (1951) for little remembered Johnny Pramesa and Bob Usher. If he had stayed with the Cubs, he could have been their starting catcher for a decade. (Pramesa played 22 games for the Cubs, Usher played 1.) Smoky always said that his most satisfying pinch hit was his home run off Cubs pitcher Sam Jones with two games left in the 1956 season. The Reds, his team at the time, were going for the record–most home runs by a team in a season. The record was 221, and when Smokey came up to bat, the Reds had 220. Reds manager Chuck Dressen ordered Burgess to pinch hit for Roy McMillan, and said, “Make it a home run – or nothin’!” The ball landed on Sheffield Avenue. Smoky ended his career as a pinch hitter for the White Sox—and played until he was 40 years old. (Photo: 1951 Bowman baseball card)
~Rocky Cherry 1979 (Cubs 2007)
Blessed with one of the great names in baseball history, Cherry was a journeyman pitcher who pitched out of the bullpen for the Cubs during their playoff year of 2007. Unfortunatly for Rocky, he wasn’t around anymore when the team made it to the playoffs. He was traded in August for Steve Trachsel.
~Woody English 1906 (Cubs 1927-1936)
Woody was an all-star shortstop for the Cubs, but he also played quite a bit at third base. He was part of three Cubs pennant winning teams (1929, 1932, & 1935). Woody would have had a chance to be a hero in Game 6 of the 1935 series, but he and his buddies on the Cubs bench razzed the umpire so loudly that the entire bench was kicked out of the game. Instead of Woody going up to pinch hit in the 9th, with the winning run on third base, Charlie Grimm had to let his pitcher Larry French bat. French stranded Stan Hack on third and gave up the series winning run in the bottom of the inning. English was traded to Brooklyn in 1937 and finished his career with the Dodgers.
~Kerry Wood 1977 (Cubs 1998-2008, 2011-2012)
He wasn’t even 21 years old when he came up to the majors in May of 1998, but he made his mark right away. On May 6, 1998, he took the mound on a very cold and wet day in Wrigley Field, and pitched one of the best games in Major League history. Before he was through he had struck out 20 Houston Astros batters, allowed only one infield hit, and electrified an entire city. By the end of the day, he was forever branded Kid K. He won the Rookie of the Year award that season after striking out 233 batters in only 166 innings, and leading the Cubs to the playoffs. Though Kid-K had his injuries during his Cubs career (he missed the entire 1999 season and long stretches of two other seasons), he was also on the mound for the greatest triumphs in Chicago Cubs history over the past fifty years. In 2003 he was the winning pitcher in the game that gave the Cubs their only playoff series victory. He also pitched magnificently in the NLCS that year, though his luck did run out in Game 7. In 2008 he was the closer during that magical season (which, sadly, ended so disappointingly). Wood came back in 2011 to end his career in his adopted home town. (Photo: 2003 Upper Deck Baseball Card)
AUDIO: Kerry’s 20 strikeout game…
His career ended as dramatically as it began. In his final big league pitch he recorded a strikeout.
~Travis Wood 1987 (Cubs 2012-present)
The Cubs got Wood in the Sean Marshall trade, and he has become one of their most reliable starters. In 2013, he started the season with nine quality starts, becoming the first pitcher since Three Finger Mordecai Brown in 1906. His greatest day as a Cub probably came when he hit a grand slam homer against the arch-rival White Sox. He was named to his first All-Star game just a few days later. Unfortunately, his 2014 seaon was a major step backwards.
~Gary Woods 1954 (Cubs 1982-1985)
He was a backup outfielder for the Cubs in the early to mid 80s, and hit in the .240s during his stay on the North Side. He also played for Oakland, Toronto, and Houston. Gary passed away in February of 2015. (Photo: 1986 Fleer Baseball Card)
~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 a scored a run. Neither of those appearances were in front of his home town 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.
~Walt Woods 1875 (Orphans 1898)
Walt was in the rotation for the Cubs (then known as the Orphans) in 1898 and started 22 games. To say he didn’t have a strikeout pitch would be an understatement. In 214 innings pitched, he struck out only 26 men. Woods later pitched for Louisville and Pittsburgh.