Today’s Cubs Birthdays (April 21)
~Bill Faul 1940–2002 (Cubs 1965-1966)
Some players are known as characters. Some are known as eccentrics. Still others seem to have come from another planet. Bill Faul was one of those guys…and he wasn’t even a lefty…or a Californian. Faul pitched for the Cubs in 1965 and 1966. It’s safe to say that he had a quirk or two. He claimed that he could hypnotize himself before games. He had been a Karate instructor in the Air Force, and his hands and feet were both considered registered weapons. He talked to his arm. He allegedly swallowed live toads (to get “extra hop” on his fastball), and ripped the heads off parakeets with his teeth. He once held a guy off a fourth floor balcony by his shoes. Faul also insisted on wearing #13. But as wild and unpredictable as Faul was, he was cool as a cucumber on the field. He had to be awakened in the clubhouse only thirty minutes before his first major league start. Faul shook out the cobwebs, grabbed the ball, warmed up, and pitched a three-hitter. Faul always seemed to be in the middle of the excitement. He was one of only a handful of pitchers to be involved in fielding a triple play, and one of only two major league pitchers in history to have three triple plays in one season while he was on the mound. Unfortunately for Faul, the league figured him out in 1966. When his ERA climbed over five, he was sent down to the minors and never returned to the Cubs. He kicked around the minor leagues for a few seasons before turning up for a cup of coffee with the Giants in 1970. Bill Faul died in 2002, at the age of 62.
(Photo: Topps 1965 Baseball Card)
~Joe McCarthy 1887–1978 (Cubs Manager 1926-1930)
Joe McCarthy was given the nickname of “Marse Joe” by sportswriters. “Marse” is a Southern English rendition of the word “master,” and from the moment he took over the Cubs in 1926, Marse Joe let it be known that he was in charge. He led them to the National League pennant in 1929, and never had a losing season as Cubs manager, but they fired him after the 1930 season because they didn’t think he had what it took to get to the next level. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they never got to that next level without him, and he got to the next level with Yankees seven times. Two of those times he beat the Cubs in the World Series. Marse Joe is in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
~Lefty Weinert 1902–1973 (Cubs 1927-1928)
Weinert was a (wait for it) lefty pitcher. He came to the Cubs after pitching for the Phillies for six seasons, and pitched mainly out of the bullpen. He ended his career with the Yankees. When he came up to the big leagues with the Phillies in 1919, he was only 17 years old.
~Les Lancaster 1963– (Cubs 1987-1991)
Lancaster was an integral member of the bullpen for the 1989 division winners. He had a pretty good career with the Cubs, winning 34 games and saving 22 in five seasons with Chicago. After his playing days were over, he went into coaching, and continues to coach in the minor leagues. His name appears only once on the Cubs all-time career pitching lists. Only two Cubs pitchers in history balked more batters than Les. He is tied for third on the list with Bill Bonham and Fergie Jenkins (14 balks). Needless to say, he achieved that landmark in far fewer innings pitched.