This Day in Cubs’ History

The Bad and the Ugly

(*reserving The Good for the next World Series championship)

An unvarnished, warts-and-all counter-companion to the Cubs' version of their history


1/06/2004: Dennis Eckersley, a member of the Chicago Cubs starting rotation from 1984-86, wins election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot; his plaque will bear an Oakland Athletics cap.

1/07/1985: Lou Brock, who failed to properly impress Cubs management as a rookie right fielder in 1964, gains admittance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; his plaque will bear a St. Louis Cardinals cap.

1/10/2006: Bruce Sutter, whose split-fingered fastball made him a top closer for the Cubs from 1976-80, is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; his plaque will bear a St. Louis Cardinals cap.

1/12/2004: Owners of 11 buildings across from Wrigley Field agree to pay an estimated $2 million per year for the right to maintain their rooftop grandstand business.


2/15/1964: Second baseman Ken Hubbs is killed in a private-plane crash near Provo, Utah, after his second season with the Cubs. In his rookie year, Hubbs had flawlessly handled 418 chances over 78 consecutive games.

2/12/2007: Kerry Wood is sidelined with a “bruised right side” after falling in a hot tub at his home.


3/10/2008: Cubs outfielder Felix Pie undergoes surgery to correct a twisted testicle.

3/13/1964: Will Clark born in New Orleans, Louisiana.


4/3/1987: Cubs trade Dennis Eckersley and Dan Rohn to the Oakland A’s for three minor leaguers (Mark Leonette, Brian Guinn, and David Wilder), none of whom ever make the major league roster. Eckersley, a verifiable drunk as a member of the Cubs starting rotation, finds new life in Oakland. When A’s closer Jay Howell comes down with a sore arm, Eck converts to reliever. He closes out each of the A’s four wins in the 1988 American League Championship Series, and the final game of the A’s sweep of the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 World Series.

4/4/1994: Karl Tuffy Rhodes hits three home runs on opening day, but Cubs lose 12-8 to New York Mets.

4/5/1993: Greg Maddux beats his former team 1-0 on Opening Day in his first season with the Braves. Maddux, who won the Cy Young Award with the Cubs in 1992, goes on to win three more consecutively for the Braves—in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

4/8/1969: Willie Smith hits a pinch-hit 11th inning home run to right field to give the Cubs a 7-6 win over the Reds on opening day at Wrigley Field. The Cubs would remain in first place for 155 days.

4/9/1974: Jose Cardenal asks to take Opening Day off because he “slept wrong” and his eyelid was stuck open. Two seasons earlier, Cardenal had asked manager Whitey Lockman to take him out of the lineup because he’d been disturbed by crickets at his hotel room. Cardenal was 1-for-3 in the Cubs 2-0, opening day win over the Phillies.

4/11/2004: Mark Prior, once described by a scout as “that rare power pitcher who has exquisite command,” is seen doing towel drills off the mound in Atlanta.

4/14/1976: Right-handed relief pitcher Tom Dettore, who never spent a full year in the major leagues, gives up the longest home run in Wrigley Field history on a fastball to then-New York Mets slugger Dave Kingman. The ball sails down Kenmore Avenue, and strikes the porch of the third house on the east side of the street. The Chicago press originally estimates the shot at 600 feet (the New York paper lists it as 630 feet).

4/20/2007: Ronnie Cedeno, inserted as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of a one-run game against the St. Louis Cardinals, gets thrown out—on a walk. Cedeno is in motion as Jaques Jones takes ball four, and then, not noticing, Cedeno over slides second base and is tagged out. Cubs lose 2-1.

4/25/1976: Rick Monday, playing center field for the Cubs, rescues an American flag from two protesters at Dodgers Stadium.

4/29/1983 After a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers that dropped the Cubs record to 5-14, Manager Lee Elia responded to fan booing with a profanity-laced tirade. Among other criticisms, Elia noted that, “Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world is working. The other fifteen come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers.”


Jim "Hippo" Vaughn
5/2/1917: Hippo Vaughn pitches a nine-inning no-hitter, only to lose 1-0 in ten innings to the Reds Fred Toney, who also pitches a no-hitter.

5/5/1876: The franchise suffers its first defeat, 1-0 to the St. Louis Brown Stockings in St. Louis. Cubs’ pitcher Albert Spalding commits an error on a throw to first to allow the game’s only run to score.

5/12/1955: Right-hander Sam Jones walks the bases loaded before striking out the final three Pittsburgh Pirates to preserve a 4-0 no-hitter.

5/14/1978: Dave Kingman hits three home runs in a 10-7 victory over the Dodgers, prompting Tommy Lasorda to say, in response to a reporter’s questions, “What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance? What the fuck do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was fucking horseshit!!”

5/16/2004: Sammy Sosa, in the visitor’s clubhouse at Petco Park prior to the last game 2021897-1418175-thumbnail.jpg
Illustration by Tim Souers (http://www.cubby-blue.com/)
of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres, injures his back—apparently from sneezing. He is diagnosed with a strained ligament in his back, and put on the disabled list.

5/17/1979: The Cubs take advantage of a strong hitter’s wind to score 22 runs—only to lose to Philadelphia 23-22. Cubs starter Dennis Lamp gets out just one batter while giving up six earned runs on two home runs; Donnie Moore then gives up six runs in two innings; and Willie Hernandez surrenders eight (six earned) in two and a third.

5/20/1921: Detroit Tigers lefthander Hal Newhouser, who will win Games 5 and 7 of the 1945 World Series, born in Detroit, Michigan.

Billy Sunday
5/22/1883: Outfielder Billy Sunday strikes out four times in his Chicago debut. After his retirement, Sunday becomes an evangelist who preaches for prohibition and against Sunday baseball. He would often begin a sermon by sliding onto the stage.

5/28/2006: The Cubs score four times in the bottom of the ninth to 2021897-1418122-thumbnail.jpg
Illustration by Tim Souers (http://www.cubby-blue.com/)
tie the Braves 12-12, but ultimately lose in extra innings when Ryan Langerhans scores in the 11th after reaching base on a pop fly off Aramis Ramirez’ head.


6/01/2007: Batterymates Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett punch it out in the dugout and then in the clubhouse after Barrett's passed ball and errant throw in the 5th inning of an 8-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Barrett took the brunt of the beating, suffering a split lip and a shiner under his left eye.

6/03/2003: Sammy Sosa’s corked bat is discovered during the first inning of a game between Cubs and Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Wrigley.

6/14/1949: Ruth Ann Steinhagen, an obsessed fan, shoots two-time Cubs All-Star Eddie Waitkus in the chest at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.  Author Bernard Malamud takes the basic elements of the Waitkus story and weaves then into the novel, The Natural.

6/15/1964: Cubs trade Lou Brock for former 20-game winners Ernie Broglio and the aging Bobby Shantz. Brock goes on to hit .368 and steal 38 bases the rest of the season as the Cardinals win the World Series. When Brock retires, the six-time National League all-star has more than 3,000 hits and has broken Ty Cobb’s long held all-time stolen base record with 938. Broglio wins just seven games for the Cubs and retires after the 1966 season.

6/16/1909: The Cubs botch the ceremony in which it plans to raise its 1908 championship banner at West Side Grounds. After beating the Dodgers 3-1, both teams parade behind a marching brass band around the field. The Cubs hoist the flag, but just before it reaches the top of the pole the rope pulley breaks, and the pennant blows away behind the bleachers in center field.

Lakefront Park
6/24/1884: A Chicago judge rules that the White Stockings must take down its 37 ½ -foot right field fence after the season. The fence was erected to keep fans from watching Lakefront Park (Randolph St. and Michigan Ave.) games for free from a nearby viaduct.

6/30/1941: The Cubs unveil powder-blue road uniforms instead of the traditional gray during a 7-1 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. When Braves manager Casey Stengel sees them for the first time ten days later, he asks, “Doesn’t the club offer perfume with those uniforms?”

6/30/1959: Two balls were in play during the fourth inning with Stan Musial of St. Louis running the bases against the Cubs. Musial was called out trying for third and the Cardinals protested that he was tagged with the wrong ball but dropped the protest when they won the game.


7/4/1977: Larry Biittner’s ERA soars to 40.50 when the outfielder/first baseman is called into emergency relief pitching duty. Biittner gives up six earned runs, including three home runs, in an inning and a third as the Expos beat up the Cubs, who’d entered the game in first place with a 48-27 record, 19-3.

7/8/1969: The Cubs take a 3-1 lead into the last of the ninth, but center fielder Don Young misplays two fly balls, and the Mets rally for a 4-3 victory. Ron Santo screams at Young in front of his teammates, an event which makes the newspapers and causes fans to boo Santo the next game.

7/26/1942: Clyde McCullough hits three home runs in consecutive at-bats off Tommy Hughes of the Phillies, but the Cubs still lose 4-3 in the first game of a doubleheader in Philadelphia. McCullough hit his homers in the third, fifth and eighth innings.


Joe Tinker
8/5/1911: Shortstop Joe Tinker is suspended two games for “Indifferent play” after he misplays two pop flies. Manager Frank Chance also fines Tinker $150.

8/8/1988: Wrigley Field’s first night game rained out after 3 1/2 innings against Philadelphia Phillies.

8/20/1958: The Cubs run out of catchers in eventual 4-2 loss to Pirates, and first baseman Dale Long becomes first left-handed receiver since 1905.

8/24/2004: Reliever Kyle Farnsworth gives up six runs in the 9th in a 15-7 loss to the Astros. He then takes out his frustrations by kicking an electric fan in the dugout, injuring his right knee and landing himself on the disabled list.


9/08/1969: A black cat runs onto the field at Shea Stadium, goes over to the Cubs dugout and stares Leo Durocher right in the face. The Cubs lose both games of a doubleheader, and the Mets pull to within a ½ game of first.

9/09/1965: Cubs southpaw Bob Hendley tosses a one-hitter against the Dodgers, giving up a measly short fly double in the seventh inning, but is outdueled by Sandy Koufax who pitches a perfect game. Cubs lose 1-0 in the only nine-inning game in major league history to produce just one hit between both teams. 

9/17/1909: The Cubs chance of repeating as champions is realistically ended with a 4-1 loss to the Giants at West Side Grounds. Down four runs, the Cubs load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. Harry Steinfeldt hits a liner that Giants left fielder Mosse McCormick loses in the sun. McCormick throws his hands in front of his face to protect himself, and to his astonishment the ball sticks in his mitt.

9/26/1979: The Mets Bruce Bosclair hits a fly ball over the head of Cubs right fielder Larry Biittner. As Biittner gives chase, his hat flies off his head, and the ball somehow gets under it. He searches frantically for the lost ball, but recovers in time to throw Bosclair out at third.


10/01/1932: In Game 3 of the World Series, Babe Ruth apparently declares his intent to hit a home run by pointing his bat toward the center field bleachers, and then on the next pitch hits one out to center.

10/01/1977: Steve Bartman born in Chicago.

10/02/1912: Cubs catcher Dick Cotter drives in the winning run while batting out of turn to beat the Pirates 6-5 at West Side Grounds. NL president Thomas Lynch rules that the final result be overturned, and the Cubs lose the game.

10/6/1945: Billy Goat tavern owner William Sianis kicked out of Game 4 at Wrigley because he brings goat Murphy. Cubs lead Series 2-1 over Tigers, but lose series in seven games.

10/7/1984: Cubs lead 3-2 behind ace Rick Sutcliffe in decisive fifth game in San Diego. With one out and a man on second in the bottom of the seventh inning, first baseman Leon Durham allows a groundball to go through his legs, thus tying the score. The Padres go on to win 6-3.

10/14/2003 Cubs lead Marlins 3-2 in NLCS with Mark Prior on the mound at Wrigley. 2021897-1418150-thumbnail.jpg
Illustration by Tim Souers (http://www.cubby-blue.com/)
Cubs lead series 3-0 with five outs to go, when Luis Castillo hits foul pop up down third base line. Leftfielder Moises Alou apparently has a clean shot at catching the ball along the guardrail, but fan Steve Bartman interferes and it goes for a foul ball. Castillo walks, shortstop Alex Gonzalez commits an error, and before the inning ends the Marlins lead 8-3. Cubs lose the game and Game 7. The game was played exactly 95 years from the day the Cubs clinched its last World Series championship with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Detroit.

10/24/1885: Scheduled starting pitcher John Clarkson oversleeps and misses the carriage due to take the Chicago team to the decisive game of the championship series, and last-minute replacement Jim McCormick gets lit up for ten runs in the first four innings as the St. Louis Browns win 13-4.

10/25/1965. Leo Durocher is hired to manage the Cubs, officially ending the "College of Coaches" experiment. At the time of his hiring, Durocher announced, "This is not an eighth-place ballclub." The Cubs finished last in Durocher's first full season.

10/31/1941: Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers born on the South Side of Chicago.


12/21/1960: P.K. Wrigley announces that the Cubs will not have a manager, but instead will go with a “College of Coaches.”

12/22/1948: Steve Garvey born in Tampa, Florida.