Friday, July 27, 1962 was a day
etched in my brain. This was the date of my first visit to Wrigley
Field. Also the beginning of a lifelong love/hate relationship with
the Chicago Cubs. Of my three living brothers, I am the only one that
has had pretty much a one team allegiance over all the years.
Our family had moved from St. Louis
Park, a suburb of St Paul, Minnesota earlier that summer. We arrived
in Mundelein, Illinois and I was prepared to meet knew friends, get
settled in to a new school in the fall. Everything a young lad of
seven would be thinking of in such a new setting.
But one of the things I thought of
most was baseball, I wanted to play it, and I read everything I could
get my hands on about it. I saw some color pictures in a magazine of
Wrigley Field. I wanted more than anything to go there. I had no idea
the distance from Mundelein to the north side of Chicago, so I
thought for sure I could ride my bike there. It took until the latter
parts of the summer to finally get to attend a game with my dad and
Up until that point I was able to
listen to the Cub games on radio. I learned a lot from Lou
Boudreau and Vince Lloyd listening to those games on
the radio. Lou was actually the Cubs manager two years prior in 1960.
I always thought he knew so much about baseball. I was in awe of his
accomplishments. I don’t think he gets all the credit he deserves for
the things he did in the Golden Age of Baseball.
Lou was a player/manager earlier in
his life. He accomplished that with the Cleveland Indians. It is
amazing that in 1948 Lou skippered the Indians to a World Series
title while hitting .355 with 18 homers, 106 ribbies, 199 hits, and
striking out only nine times. He had an All-Star selection that
summer and was voted the AL MVP. Oh, and he was a mere 28 years old.
Vince Lloyd was an actor by trade
but became a broadcaster with WGN and called many different sports.
His favorite all-time team was the 1969 Cubs. He did the call of of a
Sandy Koufax perfect game, and also was the first to interview a
sitting president on a live sportscast. The president was John F.
Vince and Lou spent 38 years together
in the Cub’s booth and they were perfect with each other. I always
felt that their descriptions of the game allowed me to see all the
action. They developed and used that power of the voice to expand our
Wrigley Field 1962
I could not believe how Wrigley Field
was so much a part of the neighborhood. We took the Addison street
bus to the park from my Grandma’s house in Portage Park. I had never
ridden a city bus, it was such a thrill. I couldn’t believe when we
crossed “six corners”, late morning and there was so much chaos.
The bus windows were open and the sounds and smells of the city were
intense to me. Strange foods, and all the hustle and bustle. We got
off the bus at Clark and Addison, right in front of the stadium. Down
the block the “el” roared to a stop and unloaded it’s riders,
arriving for the game. I think that the first impression I had of
Wrigley while exiting the bus was it seemed so small with all the
neighborhood closing in on it. The big blue and white sign on the
facade welcomed us. Home of the Chicago Cubs it said. I was in
Those feelings were nothing to the
first sight of the field when we got to the top of the steps. It was
like I was entering a strange land. The outfield wall was so green
and looked alive. Our seats were on the third base side in the second
row of the upper deck. I could see it all. I could even see way out
on the Lake Michigan. I asked my dad what it was, I didn’t even
realize we were that close. There were so many firsts for me that
day. We watched the crowd filing in and players running in the
The days lineup was announced over
the loud speakers and I diligently filled in my scorecard. Leading
off for the Houston .45s was Amalfitano playing second, Pendelton in
left, Mejias in right and Larker at first, followed by Aspromonte
playing third, Warwick in center, and Smith catching, and completed
by Lillis at shortstop, and Woodeshick pitching.
Next the Cubs…. 1st would
be center-fielder Don Landrum, then Ken Hubbs at second, at third,
batting third Ron Santo, Right-fielder George Altman, First Bagger
Ernie Banks, the left-fielder “sweet swingin'” Billy Williams,
Andre Rodgers at short, Cuno Barragan catching, and the pitcher Dick
I got ’em all down on my card. No
mistakes. And perfect penmanship I might add. I asked my dad the
temperature and wrote a short description of the weather conditions.
The umpires were announced, so I wrote them down too.
I had my baseball mitt, scorecard,
and pencil all set when the umpire roared “Play Ball!”.
It was such an eventful day for me.
The Cubs did win the game 5-1. The lone .45s run coming from a
monster smash onto Waveland Avenue from the center-.fielder Warwick.
To that point I had never seen a ball hit so far. As the years
progressed I have witnessed a lot of balls go out of Wrigley, but
that first one was colossal.
The Cubs did not fare well that
summer, finishing the season with a record of 59-101 and in 9th
place in the National League. But they were my team now, and have
been since. It seems that the beginning of each new season brings a
refreshed hope and renewed dreams that this will be the year.
THE SEASON BEGINS…..
never believed that this season I would be able to put the words Cubs
and first place together but this morning there was a four way tie
for first and the Cubbies hanging in there.
have been a few bright spots for the Cubs so far this season. The
emergence of Starlon Castro has been phenomenal. At least his
offensive skills have been first rate. His defense is suspect but he
is so young and will learn. I think he may at some point be moved to
second base, where he may be a better fit.
Barney is also making a name for himself with National League
pitchers. What a one-two punch these guys have been.
has been hitting with some power and Fukodome has been ok, waiting
for June and his folding..
pitching staff needs to come together, but I don’t think they have
been all that bad. Dempster and Garza need to step it up, Zambrano
has been passable, but is at least winning. With Cashner and Wells on
the shelf the starter by committee is keeping things alive for now.
bullpen has stuck around thus far, I have been pleasantly surprised.
I do think the presence of Kerry Wood has helped the staff as a
whole. Two blown saves by Marmol has me a bit worried. That man can
pitch though. Some of his pitches are just downright nasty.
This outfielder is the only Cubs
player during the 20th Century to have a hitting streak of at least
30 games. Name him.
Answer to Last Trivia Question
How many times has the scoreboard at
Wrigley Field been hit by a batted ball?
The answer is none.
The scoreboard has never been touched by a batted ball.
See you next time!
To all Cub Lovers….Happy Valentines’
A brief re-cap of 2010
Cubs finished 2010 16 games back of
Cincinnati in the NL Central Division.
Batting Average: Starlon Castro
HR: A. Ramirez
RBI: A. Ramirez 83s
Runs: M. Byrd 84
OPS: A Soriano
ERA: R Dempster 3.85
Wins: R Dempster 15
SO: R Dempster
SV: C Marmol 38
WHIP: R Dempster 1.32
Average .257 16th
Base Percentage .320 21st
Percentage .401 17th
Let’s Talk Baseball (2011)
prediction and opinion of Cubs Opening Day Starting Rotation
Ryan Dempster RHP: Ryan has
been the most consistent Cub starter over the past couple years with
the departure of Ted Lily. Dempster posted a 15-12 record and a 3.85
ERA last year for the sub-par Cubs. Barring injury he looks to be an
above .500 pitcher in 2011. He is a hard worker and always shows up
to camp in shape and ready to pitch. I believe 2011 will be another
solid season for him. My prediction 18-9 with an ERA around 3.00. If
he can put up those numbers, it should bode well for the Cubs.
Matt Garza RHP: Newly
acquired from the Rays, Matt posted a 15-10 record and 3.91 ERA in
33 games. He had to pitch 14 starts against the top 10 offenses in
baseball last year. His move out of the AL East into the National
League should bolster his production in 2011. Matt may be a better
bet in fantasy leagues but if he can at least match his production
of the last three years with the Rays he should finish with a record
close to 16-10 and an ERA in the mid 3’s. He will probably never be
considered and ace, but he should put up valuable innings for Mike
Carlos Zambrano RHP: Carlos
seems to be a big question, in my opinion. With all the distractions
surrounding Carlos the past few years, Cub fans are nervous with the
start of 2011. Kevin Costner in Bull Durham may have described him
best….”he has a million dollar arm and a ten cent head”. If,
and that is a huge IF he can continue where he left off at the end
of 2010 he could finally develop into the ace that the Cubs have
always expected of him. With an 18.75 million price tag this year he
has some ground to make up.
Carlos finished last year with
an 11-6 won/lost and an ERA of 3.33. He was 8-2 after his blowout
and the All Star break. I will withhold my prediction for him until
we see where that ten cent head is at. The Cubs need to get at least
18-19 wins from Zambrano this season, anything less will be a
disappointment to this observer.
Carlos Silva RHP: Silva at
31 and 12.75 million is a gamble. Although a huge surprise last year
when he started his first 16 with a 9-2 record, he did finish the
last two months of the season with nothing left in the tank. His
season totals were 10-6 and a lackluster 4.22 ERA. He is going to
have to get his act together and gut out a full season with decent
numbers for the Cubs to have any chance of contending in 2011. The
jury remains out that he can. My prediction for Silva 2011 14-9 and
a 3.5 ERA. Hopefully his cardiac problems are behind him.
Randy Wells : Randy is the
type of pitcher that relies more on his fielders behind him than on
an effective out pitch. Very credible rumors had him enjoying a bit
too much of the Chicago nightlife last year, which in turn affected his
concentration and ultimate output. That said, he finished last year
an unacceptable 8-14 in 32 starts and a 4.26 ERA. If the Cubs don’t
make a deal for a starter or one of the kids in camp doesn’t step
up, the fifth spot in the rotation could be a huge deficit. This is
where the Cub fan comes out and optimism takes over.
Cubs Trivia 2/14/11
In 1971 who was the first
NL player to appear in 1,000 consecutive games?
Answer to 2/12/11 Cub
On April 25th , 1969 Joe
Niekro was traded to the expansion San Diego Padres for what player?
Answer: Pitcher Dick Selma
Just my two
cents ….. see you next time
Next Post: Cub Long and
With a couple of feet of snow on the ground and temperatures in the bucket, it still feels like spring as the Cub pitchers and catchers report to camp. As a long-suffering Cub fan spring always brings new hope and a sense of “maybe this will be the year”.
Reality may set in about the Fourth of July, but right now in February I can afford to be optimistic.
My blog this year will relate my observations regarding the Cubs and the National League. I know that some people don’t believe that a die-hard Cub fan can be rational, but I do disagree. I feel that win or lose I can report honestly and accurately. I will try to post here a couple times a week throughout the Spring and all during the season.
Feel free to agree or disagree as you will. Your comments are welcome as long as they remain somewhat civil.
Starting this week I will run down my thoughts on the Cubs roster and try to put the Cubs in perspective with the rest of the league.
So let’s shake off the Winter doldrums and prepare for baseball.
Some Highlights of the Hot Stove Season…..
Cubs Sign RHP Matt Garza
RHP Braden Looper signed to minor league deal and invited to camp
Utility IF Augie Ojeda signed to minor league deal and invited to camp
OF Reed Johnson signed to minor league deal and invited to camp.
In the near future we will discuss these moves as well as others and what they may mean for the Cubs this season.
Just for fun I will provide a Cub Trivia Question every week. See how well you know your Cubs.
Cub Trivia 2/2/11
On April 25th , 1969 Joe Niekro was traded to the expansion San Diego Padres for what player?
Just my two cents ….. see you next time