Today’s Cubs Birthdays (December 14)
~Bill Buckner 1949 (Cubs 1977-1984)
In his first season with the Cubs in 1977, Bill Buckner hit a respectable .284, but is there any doubt that Buckner’s mustache was the finest mustache in the entire National League that year? Billy Buck went on to have a great Cubs career, capped off by a batting title in 1980. In his seven plus seasons with the Cubs, Buckner never hit less .280. When the Cubs traded him early in 1984, it was only because they had another player to take his place at first base…Leon Durham. Durham and Buckner, of course, share a common fate. Both of their outstanding careers will always be remembered for one little ball that went through their legs at the worst possible time. (Photo: Topps 1978 Baseball Card)
~Angel Guzman 1981 (Cubs 2006-2009)
He was one of the young stud pitchers who came up to the big leagues for the Cubs in the first decade of this century (along with Prior, Zambrano, and Cruz). Some scouts thought Guzman had the greatest upside of any of them, but he hurt his arm, and though he tried to come back multiple times, he was never the same.
~Rodrigo Lopez 1975 (Cubs 2011-2012)
The Mexican-born Lopez was a two-time 15-game winner for the Orioles, but by the time he came to the Cubs, he was getting by on fumes. In 30 appearances over two seasons his ERA was over 6, and he allowed 18 homers. Chicago was the last stop of his big league career.
~Pete Whisenant 1929 (Cubs 1956)
Pete was the starting centerfielder for most of his season with the Cubs, and he did hit 11 homers. Unfortunately, he also only hit .239. It was his last shot at starting, but he did stay in the league for eight seasons. The Cubs traded him to the Reds in 1957.
~Bobby Adams 1921 (Cubs 1957-1959)
Bobby was mainly a third baseman, and he also played a little second base in his 14-year big-league career, the last three of which were with the Cubs. Bobby backed up Al Dark. Adams and Dark, of course, were just keeping position warm for the young phenom who came up their last year with the Cubs; a future Hall of Famer named Santo.
~Paul Erickson 1915 (Cubs 1941-1948)
Erickson pitched for the Cubs throughout the war, including their pennant winning season of 1945. In fact, he (or Vandenberg) probably should have started Game 7 of that series. Cubs manager Charlie Grimm went with his ace Hank Borowy on short rest (very short rest–one day), and the Cubs got killed in that final game. His teammates called Erickson Lil Abner after the comic strip character. One of the least proud moments of his career came in Jackie Robinson’s first game against the Cubs. Erickson was one of the Cubs pitchers who threw at Robinson–but he was the only one who threw at his head.
~Les Bell 1901 (Cubs 1930-1931)
Bell and Woody English shared the third base position for two seasons. Despite having a few big years with the Cardinals and Braves before coming to Chicago, Bell didn’t hit that well in the hitters years of 1930 and 1931. That ’31 season proved to be his last in the big leagues.
~Harry Wilke 1900 (Cubs 1927)
Wilke’s entire big league career consisted of three games, May 12, 13, and 14th of 1927. He was brought up to fill in for Sparky Adams at third base for a few days, but after getting exactly zero hits in his nine trips to the plate, he was cut loose again. Wilke played seven years of minor league ball.
~Lefty Tyler 1889 (Cubs 1918-1921)
His real name was George, but everyone called him Lefty. He was in his 8th major league season when he came to the Cubs (from the Boston Braves). He had one great season for the Cubs, going 19-8 in 1918, and pitched well in the World Series that year, but developed a strange shoulder injury the next year. He was sent to Minnesota by the Cubs to get examined at the Mayo Clinic. The experts there said there was nothing wrong with his shoulder…that his problems were caused by unusually bad teeth. They extracted almost all of his teeth to cure his shoulder injury, which amazingly, didn’t do the trick. He was never the same after that.
~Sam Jones 1925 (Cubs 1955-1956)
The first African-American to ever pitch for the Cubs. Sam Jones was called “Toothpick” because he always had a toothpick in his mouth, even when he was pitching. Jones was great and not-so-great for the Cubs during his two years. He was the first African-American to pitch a no-hitter in the majors (which he did in front of a whopping 2918 fans on May 12, 1955), but he also lost twenty games that year, and had the single wildest season in Cubs history. He walked 185 batters in 242 innings, nearly 7 walks per nine innings. The next year he walked 115, and he was traded shortly after that year. He later became a twenty game winner and all-star for the San Francisco Giants.