Results tagged ‘ Wrigley 100 ’

Vine Line Poll: What were your favorite moments from the 2014 Cubs season?

The 2014 season will likely be remembered as a turning point for the franchise. While the record wasn’t what most fans were hoping for, make no mistake, the team played an entertaining brand of baseball, especially as the season progressed. Exciting prospects made their debuts, young veterans became cornerstone players and a new coaching staff made a strong impression.

As you’ll see below, there were many memorable moments from the 2014 season. For the December issue of Vine Line, we’re asking you, the fans, to pick the best moments of the 2014 campaign. We’ve compiled a list of 25 Cubs-related events that occurred during the past year and are asking you to select your five favorites. The top vote-getting moments will be highlighted in the December issue.

Simply check five selections from the list below and hit the Vote button.

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1000 Words: Thanks for a great season

Wrigley-Final-2014

(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty)

Thanks to all the Cubs fans for making 2014 a season to remember. It truly was the Party of the Century. For one last time—happy 100th Wrigley Field! We’ll see you next year.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Jack Brickhouse’s voice defined the Cubs for generations

Brickhouse
Jack Brickhouse, the longtime face and voice of the Chicago Cubs on WGN broadcasts, was eternally and unapologetically an optimist. From 1941-81, including 33 years in the television booth, Brickhouse “Hey-hey’d!” the Cubs’ highs and rallied fans through the many lows. In the doldrums of team history, during a decades-long span when it was exceedingly easy to bail on the downtrodden North Side nine, Brickhouse remained steadfast.

Of course, that might have been by necessity.

“He saw a lot of bad baseball,” said Bob Vorwald, director of production for WGN-TV. “He called over 5,000 games through rose-colored glasses.”

While 5,000 baseball broadcasts may seem like a lot, that only scratched the surface of what Brickhouse accomplished during his career. He also called games for the crosstown White Sox, the NFL’s Chicago Bears and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. On top of that, he covered political conventions, interviewed politicians (including four presidents) and contributed to the evening news. At one point, he even interviewed Pope Paul VI. But through it all, it was his work with the Cubs that made him a broadcasting legend and earned him a well-deserved spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“His was the voice people aligned with the Cubs,” Vorwald said. “He was also a voice of endless enthusiasm and optimism.”

Brickhouse’s fans credit his unflinching positivity and unconditional love for the Cubs with the creation of a devoted and unshakable fan base. His omnipresence in the WGN-TV broadcast booth also aided in the formation of a nationwide patchwork of Cubs boosters as the television era was dawning and WGN was increasing its reach.

“He was as much a part of the team as Ernie Banks and Billy Williams,” said Cubs historian Ed Hartig. “You remember broadcasters. They’re the first ones you learn the game from.”

* * * *
The truly classic tales always seem to include humble beginnings, and Brickhouse’s early years certainly fit the mold.

“He was very proud of [that],” said Jack Rosenberg, Brickhouse’s longtime sports editor and friend. “He was a phenomenal guy who came up the hard way.”

Born in 1916 in Peoria, Illinois, Brickhouse lost his father when he was just a toddler, according to Hartig. His mother remarried, but the family’s financial outlook was bleak. In high school, he played basketball and acted in the senior play while cutting his reporting teeth at the school paper. His college days ended after only one year when the family coffers ran dry, but other promising opportunities emerged.

In 1934, a teenaged Brickhouse got a part-time job at the local WMBD radio station working the switchboard and forming the foundations of his on-air personality. But he never grew up dreaming of making a name for himself on the airwaves. His first foray into radio was actually entering—and losing—an announcing contest. The prize was a $50 watch, which the young man planned to sell for cash to give to his mother, said Jack’s widow, Pat Brickhouse.

While the watch ultimately went to a more seasoned entrant, the station manager heard something in the kid’s voice and hired him anyway. While in Peoria, Brickhouse ran the gamut from news to sports, but he also covered every barn dance and variety show in between. He pushed to expand coverage of Bradley University basketball, and later became the voice of Big Ten football, boxing matches and minor league baseball in the area.

Chicago broadcasting stalwart and longtime White Sox announcer Bob Elson brought the young broadcaster to WGN in 1940 to work Cubs and Sox games, as well as Notre Dame football. Though Brickhouse was already an experienced radio man by this point, the national pastime was still a bit outside his comfort zone.

“If asked, [tell them] you know everything about baseball,” Pat Brickhouse recounted of the wire message alerting her late husband of his new position. “He didn’t know dibbledydook about baseball.”

But, clearly, he managed. Brickhouse jumped around and filled in for the next several years as World War II beckoned Elson away from the booth (childhood tuberculosis kept Brickhouse a civilian). Brickhouse eventually became the lead broadcaster for all Sox and Cubs games. He also covered political conventions, and later briefly worked for baseball’s Giants in New York on WMCA. Brickhouse’s career seemed to be taking off, but Pat Brickhouse said her future husband’s year in New York was the worst of his life. He loved Chicago and was desperate to get home.

In 1947, a new medium beckoned him back to his beloved city. WBKB in Chicago was televising Cubs home games courtesy of local sponsors and needed a personality to anchor its broadcasts. Brickhouse jumped at the opportunity and worked alongside Joe Wilson until the following year when WGN-TV rehired him. The fledgling television arm of the radio giant would be broadcasting all Cubs and White Sox home games, which Brickhouse called in addition to serving as sports service manager.

Along with baseball, Brickhouse worked college and pro football games and some wrestling, which Hartig said irked the broadcaster initially. But he later learned to appreciate the sport’s over-the-top theatrics.

* * * *
WGN-TV, Channel 9 in Chicago, broadcast its first Cubs game, a crosstown affair with the White Sox, on April 16, 1948, from Wrigley Field. The South Siders bested the home team 4-1, and Brickhouse’s legendary 33-year tenure as the station’s televised baseball ambassador was off and running.

“Jack was on his own in that regard,” said Len Kasper, WGN-TV’s Cubs play-by-play announcer. “He was so ingrained here for so many decades.”

The station gained exclusive rights to Cubs games in 1952, with Jack Brickhouse and Harry Creighton taking television-owning Chicagoans out to the ballgame every summer—and it shouldn’t be taken for granted just how novel that experience was. While every baseball game is now broadcast, stations were still scrambling to figure out the medium around the time of Brickhouse’s television debut.

No longer did an announcer need to paint the picture—the picture was already being beamed into living rooms—so the call had to be more deft and data-driven. Broadcasters weren’t groomed for telegenics either. They simply made the jump from radio.

“This was all brand new, the idea of [baseball on] television,” Hartig said of the early broadcasts. “How do you cover this [sport]?”

The first major league game was televised in 1939 from the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, but by the end of the 1940s, most teams were getting on board. Yet no broadcaster had a presence quite like Brickhouse’s, and none was calling as many games, Kasper said. The sheer volume of work he did, the knowledge he gleaned about the American and National leagues, and the time he spent behind the mic were, and continue to be, without equal.

Though Brickhouse became a Chicago institution, his reach extended beyond the city’s borders. He called five All-Star Games as well as four World Series games—all while publishing his Jack Brickhouse’s Major League Record Book and working to get pro golf televised, Hartig said. Brickhouse began 20-plus years as the radio voice of the Chicago Bears in 1953; he became the first announcer for the Chicago Bulls in 1966, a role he held until 1973; he served on the Cubs’ board of directors for 11 years; he interviewed presidents and dignitaries; and he occasionally popped up on the local Chicago news.

But it was at Wrigley Field where he felt most at home, his widow said. While the 40 years of his Cubs tenure witnessed more blight than bliss, Brickhouse saw, and delighted in, several no-hitters and Ernie Banks’ 500th career home run. In the archived broadcast of the latter event, his voice cracks and bellows with unfiltered joy.

“He was a homer,” Hartig said. “No Cub was ever in a slump. They were always overdue.”

The broadcaster called his unprecedented 5,000th game in 1979 and retired from announcing Cubs baseball in 1981. As Pat Brickhouse put it, he wanted to go out at the top of his game.

“Forty years as a broadcaster is never going to be topped,” she said. “People don’t stick around that long.”

Brickhouse didn’t exactly spend his retired years enjoying the quiet life. He wrote two books, made various speaking engagements and played a great deal of gin rummy. In a fitting cap to his esteemed broadcasting career, he was given the Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.

In March 1998, Brickhouse died of cardiac arrest at the age of 82, after surgery to remove a brain tumor. His beloved but beleaguered Cubs finished the 1998 season in second place in the NL Central with a 90-73 record, and went to the postseason as the Wild Card winner. It would have been one of the finest seasons on Brickhouse’s watch.

* * * *
“I think everybody over the age of 40 can do a Jack Brickhouse impression,” said Vorwald, striking a delighted, high-pitched “Wheeeeee!” to demonstrate.

Brickhouse’s signature “Hey-hey!” call following each Cubs run—a phrase now emblazoned on the foul poles at Wrigley Field in the legendary broadcaster’s honor—was typical of the man who unabashedly root, root, rooted for the Cubbies, even when they weren’t winning.

“They were dreadful,” Vorwald reiterated. “He always found a way to never let it show on the air. “The fans’ optimism—that comes from Jack.”

Brickhouse’s cheery, glass-half-full style earned him his detractors, but largely drew more fans into the Cubs fold.

“That’s just how the man was. He was optimistic about life,” Pat Brickhouse said. “And about his beloved Cubs.”

A 1970 letter to the Chicago Tribune sports editor came to Brickhouse’s defense after a column suggested the city’s broadcasters should consider “shutting up.”

“If [the columnist] doesn’t expect the sportscasters to get excited during a hockey or baseball game, then he must not get very excited himself,” wrote the reader, signed P.A. Mueller. “With Lloyd Pettit yelling ‘A shot and a goal,’ and Jack Brickhouse yelling ‘Hey-hey!’ it all adds to the excitement of the game. I think they do a marvelous job of reporting the action.”

Ed Hartig credits Brickhouse with turning the historian—and native South Sider—into a lifelong Cubs fan.

“Every day, Jack Brickhouse was there,” said the 49-year-old Hartig.

Rosenberg, whose tip-tapping typewriter can be heard churning out production notes in the background of his friend’s old broadcasts, said he hears stories like Hartig’s all the time.

“What they remember was that he was like part of the family,” said Rosenberg, who penned Brickhouse’s Hall of Fame speech. “People grew up with us.”

A statue of Brickhouse, which his wife was instrumental in securing, now stands on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. Notes in hand and microphone poised, he appears mid-call—his eyes cast ahead and mouth turned up in a smile.

“‘I hope I never have to go to work for a living,’” Pat Brickhouse recalled her husband saying. “He just loved what he was doing so much.”

—Kerry Trotter

2000s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 9/1/14-9/7/14

Prior

Mark Prior and the Cubs celebrating after they clinched the 2003 NL Central Division. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The 2000s saw three first place finishes at Wrigley Field and dazzling performances from players like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Starting Monday, Sept. 1, the Cubs welcome the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates to town for a 2000s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt, Jon Lovitz and many more. And on Labor Day, the Cubs will celebrate the U.S. Little League Champion Jackie Robinson West All-Stars.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the six-game set.

2000s Homestand Recap, Sept. 1-7

Monday, Sept. 1 (Labor Day), Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Special Event: Salute to Armed Forces Day
  • Pregame recognition, first pitch, seventh-inning stretch: U.S. Little League Champion Jackie Robinson West All-Stars
  • Pregame ceremony: Salute to Armed Forces Day guests
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Sept. 2, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Gatorade Protein Bars (postgame distribution to 5,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Jimy Sohns, lead singer of Chicago-native rock band The Shadows of Knight
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Sept. 3, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Oktoberfest Celebration
  • Pregame performance: Jesse White Tumblers
  • First pitches: Actor Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation; Vicki Santo and Logan Burke, guest of Ron and Vicki Santo Diabetic Alert Dog Foundation
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, Sept. 5, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Greg Maddux 3000th Strikeout Bobblehead presented by Bank of America (first 10,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Cast members from the NightBlue Theatre show Clemente: The Legend of 21
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, Sept. 6, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 3:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: John Lovitz, actor and comedian
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, Sept. 7, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: 2008 home uniform
  • Promotion: 2000s Clark Build-a-Bear presented by Bank of America (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

1990s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 8/19/14-8/24/14

Wrigley Field Tote Bag
This Wrigley Field 100 tote will be given to the first 10,000 fans on Saturday, Aug. 23.

The 1990s marked the arrival of Sammy Sosa, a stretch of continued excellence by Mark Grace, a dazzling performance by Kerry Wood and a Wild Card Tiebreaker win for the ages. Starting Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Cubs welcome the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles to town for a 1990s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Chris Chelios, Gary Sinise and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the six-game set.

1990s Homestand Recap, August 19-24

Tuesday, August 19, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Floppy Hat presented by Pepsi and Jewel-Osco (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Members of the WNBA Chicago Sky basketball team
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Wayne Messmer, longtime Cubs national anthem singer
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, August 20, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Star Wars Night
  • First pitch: Mark Duplass, actor from The League and The Mindy Project
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Chris Chelios, former Blackhawks player
  • Broadcast: WCIU-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, August 21, Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Social Media Night
  • First pitch: Social Media Night winner
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, August 22, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Kerry Wood 20-Strikeout Bobblehead presented by Budweiser (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Gary Sinise, actor, producer and director
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, August 23, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Wrigley Field Tote Bag presented by Starwood Preferred Guest (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and Seventh-inning stretch: John Groce, Fighting Illini basketball coach; Members of the band O.A.R.
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, August 24, Chicago Cubs vs. Baltimore Orioles, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1994 alternate uniform
  • Promotion: ’90s Throwback Gracie the Swan Beanie Baby (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch: TBD
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit wrigleyfield100.com.

 

1980s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 8/8/14-8/14/14

First-Night

The first night game at Wrigley Field on Aug. 8, 1988. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The 1980s brought Ryno, Dawson, the Boys of Zim and the first night game at historic Wrigley Field. Starting Friday, Aug. 8, the Cubs welcome the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers to town for a 1980s-themed celebration. Fans can relive the decade along with Jody Davis, Bill Bonham, Fergie Jenkins and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the seven-game set.

1980s Homestand Recap, August 8-14

Friday, Aug. 8, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: First Night Game Bobblehead presented by Las Vegas (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Jody Davis, former Cubs catcher
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, Aug. 9, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Retro Headphones presented by Athletico (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Digger Phelps, former Notre Dame men’s basketball coach and retired ESPN college basketball analyst
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, Aug. 10, Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: ‘80s Throwback Cubs Rubik’s Cube presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 5,000 kids 13-and-under)
  • First pitch: Bill Bonham, former Cubs pitcher
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, Aug. 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Fergie Jenkins, Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, Aug. 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Cubs Scout Night
  • First pitch: Willy Roy, two-time champion Chicago Sting coach
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Members of the Chicago Sting 1981 championship team
  • Military recognition: U.S. Navy Leap Frogs
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, Aug. 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:05 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1988 home uniform
  • Special Event: ‘80s Rock Night/Zubazpalooza 2
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Steve Trout, former Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, Aug. 14, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Fathead presented by Pepsi (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Miss Illinois, Marisa Buchheit, and actor Joel Murray
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Joel Murray, actor
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1970s—Rick Reuschel

Reuschel

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the seventh installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, we look at towering right-hander Rick Reuschel, who was a consistent workhorse throughout the 1970s.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson
1950 – Ernie Banks
1960s – Ron Santo

1970s – Rick Reuschel, 41.3 WAR

Seasons: 1972-79
AVG/OBP/SLG: 114-101
W-L: 284-274
G-GS: 284-274
IP: 1834.1
K: 1122
K/9: 5.50
ERA: 3.43

Unlike some of the other players on this list, Rick Reuschel’s numbers don’t jump off the page. He even led the league in losses in 1975 with 17, albeit with a 3.73 ERA. But while he didn’t earn a lot of attention for his efforts, Reuschel was definitely the standout performer for the Cubs during a down decade—a stretch that saw the team win between 75 and 85 games nine times.

The right-hander’s lofty WAR total can largely be attributed to a clean bill of health and a high level of consistency. He won at least 10 games from his big league debut in 1972 through the end of the decade. He also pitched no fewer than 234 innings a season from 1973-79, making at least 35 starts in each of those years. As a result, his WAR total ranks fifth among all pitchers in the 1970s.

The 1977 All-Star wasn’t one to strike out a ton of hitters—he averaged 5.1 K/9 for his career—but he used deception and a wide arsenal of pitches to get hitters out.

Big Daddy’s finest season came in 1977, when he went 20-10 with a 2.79 ERA, made his lone Cubs All-Star appearance and finished third in the Cy Young race. He ultimately pitched for 19 seasons and earned 214 major league victories.

 

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1950s—Ernie Banks

Banks_10-10

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the fifth installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, it’s Mr. Cub Ernie Banks’ time in the spotlight. During the 1950s, he put together one of the best stretches for a shortstop ever.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson

1950s – Ernie Banks, 39.6 WAR

Seasons: 1953-59
AVG/OBP/SLG: .295/.355/.558
PA: 3,954
HR: 228
R: 582
RBI: 661
SB: 35

Ernie Banks’ 1950s WAR total is the sixth best among NL offensive players for the decade. It’s even more impressive when you consider he was active for only six full seasons during that stretch.

With segregation still impacting professional baseball, Banks didn’t join the major leagues until September 1953, when he played 10 games with the Cubs just before the season ended.

But by the latter stages of the 1950s, Mr. Cub was striking fear into the hearts of NL pitchers. In 1958 and 1959, he put up two of the most productive seasons ever—no shortstop has put up a similar WAR total in a single season since.

In 1958, he claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown, hitting 47 homers and driving in 129, all while batting a career-best .313. The following year he slammed 45 homers and had a league-leading 143 RBI. He claimed MVP awards in both years.

For the decade, Banks averaged 33 homers versus just 62 strikeouts per season—and this was at a time when very little offense was expected of middle infielders. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 and went to five All-Star Games in the 1950s, starting three.

Mr. Cub was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

 

Cubs set to honor the 1960s at Wrigley Field

BWilliams

It’s a shame the 1960s-themed homestand will only last only one weekend, especially considering the amount of success the home teams had at Wrigley Field during the decade. While the Cubs had a strong 10-year stretch, it was the NFL’s Chicago Bears that hoisted a championship trophy in 1963, winning the league behind players like Bobby Wade and Mike Ditka.

This weekend, Cubs will host a quick three-game, 1960s-themed series against the Atlanta Braves from July 11-13 leading into Major League Baseball’s All-Star break. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1960s at Wrigley Field as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. Each game in the series includes a promotional giveaway, offering fans a chance to collect an item commemorating the ’60s decade at the ballpark.

On Friday, July 11, Cubs fans will be able to congratulate 2014 All-Star representative Starlin Castro as he receives his All-Star jersey from Majestic. The team and its fans are pushing for Anthony Rizzo to join the festivities in Minneapolis through MLB’s Final Vote campaign. Fans can vote for Rizzo at mlb.com/vote or by texting N4 to 89269 until this Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT.

On Saturday, July 12, Cubs Charities and Kraft will extend the good feelings with a donation ceremony benefiting programs focused on health, fitness, and education for at-risk youth and families. In June, Kraft committed to donating $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher struck out at Wrigley Field. The Cubs pitching staff delivered 138 strikeouts at home (en route to a National League-leading 247 strikeouts for the month), resulting in a donation of $13,800.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 13, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1969 to honor some of the team’s most popular players from the era. That squad featured Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, as well as other Cubs legends. The visiting Atlanta Braves will wear a 1969 throwback uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect a unique promotional item at each game of the homestand, beginning with an exclusive Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet for the first 10,000 fans on Friday. On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley. On Sunday, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a ’60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch, and the first 1,000 kids in the park can run the bases postgame.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1960s homestand features a Kraft BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kraft Cheese and fried onions served on a toasted onion roll. Fans can also try the Traditional Buffalo Wings homestand special. These classic wings are tossed with Buffalo sauce and served with carrot and celery sticks along with ranch dipping sauce.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog—a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with diced chicken, buffalo sauce, crumbled bleu cheese and chopped celery. The Buffalo Wing Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy an Alabama Ironman Cocktail. This modern twist on the Whiskey Sour, which pays homage to Billy Williams, is made with peach puree, lemon and lime juice.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted many memorable baseball and non-baseball moments in the 1960s. The team also started an important tradition at the ballpark.

Wrigley Field hosted its final NFL Championship game in 1963 on a frigid, seven-degree day in December. The Bears beat the New York Giants 14-10 to take the title.

On Dec. 12, 1965, Gale Sayers tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a 61-20 rout of San Francisco on a muddy Wrigley Field.

In 1966, in his first game after being acquired by the Cubs, eventual Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins threw five scoreless innings in relief and belted a home run in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Dodgers.

In February 1967, the Cubs announced they would feature organ music and play the National Anthem before every home game. Before this, the National Anthem was only played on holidays and special occasions at Wrigley Field.

After completing a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals on June 29, 1969, Billy Williams officially broke the National League record for consecutive games played with 896. His streak would eventually extend to 1,117 games. That same year, after tossing seven hitless innings against the Braves on Aug. 19, pitcher Ken Holtzman’s no-hitter looked lost as Hank Aaron connected on a deep fly ball. Luckily, a gust of wind knocked it down at the last second, and Billy Williams caught it on the warning track to preserve Holtzman’s career performance.

Tickets for the Braves series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

 

10 Decades, 10 Cubs Legends: 1910s—Hippo Vaughn

HippoVaughn

The following appears in the July issue of Vine Line.

The 100 Years of Wrigley Field celebration is in full swing on the North Side. Every time fans venture into the Friendly Confines this season, they’re not only treated to Cubs baseball, but they also come away with a bit of a history lesson.

In 2014, Wrigley-goers have gotten to see throwback uniforms, retro toys and a guest list that has included people with ties to the baseball cathedral’s storied past. All of this is part of the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, which celebrates a different decade at each of 10 home series.

For Vine Line‘s annual All-Star issue, we decided to piggyback on the decade-by-decade concept to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. Our goal was to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in the stadium’s history. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the best Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and quantifies them into a single number designed to summarize that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). According to Fangraphs, WAR basically asks the question, “If a player got injured and his team had to replace him with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would they be losing?” The final number is expressed as a win total, so if Ryne Sandberg earned a 7.4 WAR in 1992, that means he was worth 7.4 wins to the Cubs.

For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

Some players who made the cut didn’t receive a ton of recognition for their efforts in Cubbie blue, while a few Hall of Famers are noticeably absent. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out the decade leaders one by one.

We start off the 10-part series with a right-hander who dominated for the North Side squad in the 1910s.

1910s – Hippo Vaughn, 32.0 WAR

Seasons: 1913-19
Win-Loss: 129-78
Games-Games Started: 248-218
IP: 1806.0
K: 977
K/9: 4.90
ERA: 2.08

It takes just a glance at Hippo Vaughn’s numbers to see how thoroughly he dominated his era. From 1914-19, he won 21, 20, 17, 23, 22 and 21 games. Of course, wins aren’t the end-all, be-all of pitching stats, but 124 victories over six seasons is still rather impressive. The 1918 season was probably his best, as he led the league in wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. Vaughn’s most famous start was actually a game he lost in 1917, when he and Reds pitcher Fred Toney both had no-hitters going through nine innings. Over the course of the decade, the southpaw’s overall WAR total is second among all NL pitchers. Never one to surrender the long ball, Vaughn’s .09 home runs per nine innings is the decade’s lowest total for a pitcher who threw more than 700 innings.

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