Today’s Cubs Birthdays (March 30)
–Ripper Collins 1904–1970 (Cubs 1937-1938)
His real name was James Anthony Collins, but everyone called him Rip or Ripper. He said he got his nickname when, as a boy, he hit the team’s only ball and snagged it on a fence nail, ripping its cover. Collins was a star with the Cardinals, and to be fair, he got off to a good start with the Cubs too. Ripper was an All-Star for the Cubs in ’37, and played on the pennant winner in 1938, but he hit only .133 in the Series, and with Phil Cavarretta on the team, Collins was no longer wanted or needed. The Cubs released him before the 1939 season…on his 35th birthday. (1934 Goudey Baseball Card)
~Herman Bronkie 1884–1968 (Cubs 1914)
Herman played with the Cubs during a season they were only the third most popular professional baseball team in Chicago (behind the White Sox and the Federals). Dutch, as he was called by his teammates, ended his Cubs career with a 1.000 batting average, a 2.000 slugging percentage, and 3.000 OPS. Care to guess how that happened? He batted only once and hit a double. (He also drove in a run and scored one).
~Tom Burns 1857–1902 (White Stockings/Colts 1880-1891, manager 1898-1899)
Tom was an infielder on one of the most dominant teams in baseball history. From 1880 (his rookie season) until 1886 they won the National League championship five times. During that 1886 season he was attacked by an angry mob in Detroit, and hurt his thumb fighting them off. But that was nothing compared to what he had to fight off during his time in Chicago. Burns survived two massive purges of players. When all of the drinkers were sent away by Al Spalding after the 1886 season, Burns remained. In 1890, after a full-fledged player revolt, only three players remained—Cap Anson, Bill Hutchison, and the survivor, Tom Burns. Other than the three old timers, the players who played for Chicago in 1890 were so young that the newspapers started calling the team the Colts. Burns probably had the best season of his career during that 1890 Colts season. He knocked in a career-high 86 runs and stole 44 bases. He later came back to manage the Cubs (then known as the Orphans) for two seasons after Cap Anson was let go.
~Ed Sicking 1897–1978 (Cubs 1916)
Ed was a member of the Cubs team that played their first season at Wrigley Field in 1916, but just barely. He was only 19 years old on August 26th when he got his one chance to hit. He was called on to pinch hit for relief pitcher Gene Packard, but Ed didn’t reach base. The pitcher he faced was Lefty Tyler, who would become an important part of the pennant winning Cubs of 1918. Sicking later played for the Giants, Phillies, Reds, and Pirates. The infielder had more than 650 plate appearances in the big leagues but never hit a home run.
~George Van Haltren 1866–1945 (White Stockings 1887-1889)
George was a pitcher his first few seasons, but when he was moved to leftfield in 1889, he really started to shine. He became one of the best leadoff men of his era. Unfortunately, he was also one of the players that left Chicago in the player revolt of 1890 to join the player’s league. He returned to the National League after the league folded, but not to Chicago. Van Haltren hit over .300 nine seasons in a row (for Pittsburgh and the New York Giants). He was 37 years old when his career ended in 1902 after he suffered a terrible ankle injury. “Rip” as he was called, received some Hall of Fame votes when the hall was created in 1936, but never enough to be enshrined.