From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Beck’s 50

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the eighth part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.


(Photo by Stephen Green)

9/26/98 — Rod Beck’s 50-save season

The stocky build. The chops. The mullet. Veteran closer Rod Beck spent only a year and a half on the North Side, but his time with the team was unforgettable.

In 81 appearances in 1998, “Shooter” became just the fifth player in major league history to accumulate 50 saves in a season. And none of them was more dramatic than his 51st, which he picked up in a 5-3 win over San Francisco in the Wild Card play-in game.

Beck, whose fastball rarely made it out of the high-80s, fanned 23.2 percent of the batters he faced and had a 9.1 K/9 ratio.

“It makes you realize it’s not about stuff,” Wood said. “Here I am, a kid who thinks he can throw it by everybody and break off these nasty sliders any time I want, and you hand the ball over to a guy who’s not throwing harder than 88 mph. But he’s just lights out. For me, that was the first little glimpse I got that it’s not about stuff, it’s about [knowing] how to pitch.”


Beck was awesome to watch!

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