This Week in Wrigley History (August 27–September 2)
August 29, 1918
The Cubs clinched the National League pennant with a double-header sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. Lefty Tyler wins his 18th game in the opener, and Claude Hendrix wins his 20th game in the nightcap. It is the earliest any team in National League history clinched a pennant, but that record comes with a big asterisk. The nation is fighting in World War I. The government announced that September 2nd was the last day for anyone who was of draft age to report for duty, or to find a war related job. This includes the ballplayers themselves—although a waiver is granted for anyone playing in the World Series. Baseball isn’t considered essential.
August 27: In their first season playing games in the ballpark, 1916, the Cubs beat the Braves 5-1. Rollie Zeider goes 3 for 4 to lead the hit parade…In 1987, darkness sets in and the game is called off, resulting in a Cubs victory. Lights are installed the following year, and no game has been called for darkness since.
August 28: In 1950, Hank Sauer hits homers in three consecutive at bats to beat the Phillies 7-5. All three homers are hit off Phillies starter Curt Simmons. Simmons was pulled in the seventh when Sauer came up again. The new pitcher intentionally walks him…In 1971, the Cubs celebrate Ron Santo Day at Wrigley. Phil Niekro and the Braves beat Fergie and the Cubs 4-3. Santo goes 1 for 3, and is standing in the on-deck circle as Joe Pepitone makes the final out…In 2005, the Cubs retire Ryne Sandberg’s #23.
August 29: In 1918, the Cubs clinch the National League pennant by beating the Reds in a double header at Weegham Park. (Full story above)… Billy Herman makes his debut for the Cubs in 1931. The Cubs win the game 14-5. Herman gets a hit in his only at-bat…In 1959, Ernie Banks hits a grand slam against future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. It’s the only four runs the Cubs score in an 11-4 loss.
August 30: The Cubs celebrate Stan Hack Day at Wrigley Field. Hack is in his last season as a player. It’s a terrible season for the Cubs, but more than 25,000 fans come out to pay tribute and watch the Cubs lose 8-5 to the Pirates. Hack goes 0 for 3. A few years later he will be named the manager of the team.
August 31: On this day in 1920, Cubs president Bill Veeck Sr. gets a tip that Claude Hendrix is going to throw the game. He yanks him from the starting lineup. Grover Cleveland Alexander starts instead, and loses 3-0. The investigation of that tip will eventually leads to Hendrix being quietly banned from the game, and the discovery of the Chicago Black Sox World Series scandal…In 1948, Hank Borowy pitches a one-hitter in the first game of a double header against the Dodgers. Future Cub Gene Hermanski gets the only hit for Brooklyn…In 2016, Cubs beat the Pirates to sweep the series and set franchise record for most wins in a month (22).
September 1: On this day in 1942 the Cubs allow free entry to every woman who brought along scrap metal to donate to the war cause…In 1968, Bill Hands throws a 5-hit shutout for his 15th win of the year, and the Cubs beat the Astros 2-0. Both runs came in on a two-run homer by Ron Santo in the bottom of the 7th…In 1980, Lee Smith makes his big league debut. (See below for full story)
September 2: In 1965, Ernie Banks hits his 400th career homer (off Curt Simmons) in a 5-3 win against the Cardinals. (See below for full story)… In 1972, Milt Pappas no-hits Padres 8-0, having come within one strike of perfect game. (See below for full story)…In 1998, Sammy ties Hack Wilson’s record with his 56th homer of the season in a 4-2 win over the Reds…In 2002, Kerry Wood strikes out 4 batters in an inning, because one of them reached base on an error by the catcher.
September 1, 1980
Big Lee Smith made his Major League debut. The Cubs were facing the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Dennis Lamp started the game for the Cubs, but when he got into trouble in the 5th inning, the recently recalled Smith took the mound. The first batter he faced was Dale Murphy. Murphy barely made contact. The ball landed right in front of home plate, and Murphy was easily thrown out. The next batter, Glen Hubbard, was Big Lee’s first career strikeout victim.
Smith would go on to strike out 1250 more batters in his career, and save 478 games. When he retired, that was the big league record.
September 2, 1965
Ernie Banks hit his 400th career home run. It came in the third inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
With fellow Hall of Famers Ron Santo on first and Billy Williams on second, Banks dug in against Cardinals pitcher Curt Simmons and knocked it out of the park for a three run homer. (Simmons was also the first pitcher Ernie ever faced in the big leagues.)
This one turned out to be the deciding blast of the game, as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-3.
The first batter he faces, Johnny “the Jet” Jeter, hits a line drive to left center. Centerfielder Bill North stumbles on his way over to the ball, and only a miraculous catch by left fielder Billy Williams preserves the no-hitter. The next batter, catcher Fred Kendall, grounds out to shortstop Don Kessinger. That leaves only pinch hitter Larry Stahl between Pappas and immortality. The count goes to full, and Pappas throws a borderline pitch, but umpire Bruce Froeming doesn’t give him the call. The walk to Stahl ends the perfect game.
Pappas retires the next batter Garry Jestadt for a no-hitter, but after the game he is upset. He believes he has been robbed of a perfect game by an umpire’s call. More than 40 years later, he still feels that way.
The Cubs won’t have another no-hitter until Carlos Zambrano throws one in 2008 against the Astros in Milwaukee.