Tag Archives: Cubs


TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO MARCH 6, 2006 IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA. Kirby Puckett always tried to look on the bright side, which would have helped his family, friends and fans when he died on this date in 2006. The former Minnesota Twins outfielder and member of the Hall of Fame suffered a massive brain hemorrhage the previous day, and died after surgery to relieve the pressure.

Puckett probably would have said something like, “It was a short life (45 years), but a fulfilling one.” This is what Puckett (5′ 8″ 210 lbs) actually did say when he was forced to retire in 1996 after waking up one morning blind in one eye, “I was told I would never make it because I’m too short. Well, I’m still too short, but I’ve got 10 All-Star Games, two World Series championships, and I’m a very happy and contented guy.

It doesn't matter what your height is, it's what's in your heart."

Kirby Puckett was born Chicago and raised in the Robert Taylor Homes, at the time, the largest public housing project in the country and one of the most notorious; infested with drugs, gangs and crime. But Kirby make it out, attending Bradley University for a short time where he was an all-conference outfielder as a freshman. He transferred to Triton Junior College outside Chicago and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1982 draft, after his hometown Cubs passed him up. He finished his 12-year career with a lifetime .318 average, and despite a shortened career finished with over 2,000 hits and 1,000 RBI’s.

Puckett’s pristine, community-conscious image took hit after he was forced to retire. His former wife accused him of threatening her, and he was accused (and acquitted) of groping a woman in a Twin Cities restaurant. As time went on he gained a tremendous amount of weight, ballooning to well over 300 lbs, which likely lead to his hypertension and contributed to his death.

Contributing sources:
Kirby Puckett – Baseball-Almanac
1982 Amateur Draft – mlb.com



Spring training 2018 is in full swing, so is the business of spring training. At one time it was mostly a Florida experience, commonly called the Grapefruit League. It began when the Chicago Cubs moved their training from New Orleans to Tampa in 1913. According to the Tampa Bay Rays, more spring training games have been played in St. Petersburg than any other city.

Jump ahead to 2018…

Half the major league teams have been lured to the Cactus League in Arizona, mostly the Phoenix area. Suburbs such as Glendale and Peoria have gone all-out to lure teams to “The Valley of the Sun,” in hopes that “snow birds” from the Midwest and East Coast will follow their favorite teams there.

Sharing facilities has become more common. After training in Florida for decades, the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers now share an elaborate state-of-the-art complex in Glendale (owned by the City of Glendale) called Camelback Ranch. It has fully equipped training, exercise, weight-room facilities for each team, in addition to 16 diamonds. And that’s the business of spring training.

Contributing sources:
The Official Site of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida

Tampa Bay Rays
The business of spring baseball



JANUARY 12, 1961 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley dropped a bombshell on the baseball world on this date in 1961. He would not have a manager for the upcoming season. Instead he would institute a Cubs College of Coaches

The franchise had been struggling. The Cubs were 60-94 in 1960, the eighth year in a row the team lost more games than it won. The status quo wasn’t working. Wrigley wanted to change it.

Wrigley considered the manager a “dictator,” and instead would rotate eight coaches through the major and minor leagues. Each would take turns running the major league club. Length of stay would depend on how well the “coach” was doing. This brain trust became known as the College of Coaches.

Wrigley wanted help from another unlikely source, “Everyone has always said baseball is a game of percentages, but I have yet to find anyone in baseball who can figure the percentages.” He wanted an IBM machine in the dugout so whoever was running the team could access statistical information about opposing, as well as Cub players. This information would in turn help dictate game strategy. Mind you, this is decades before the personal computer.

The Ivy League approach didn’t work. The Cubs finished the 1961 season 64-90, just four games better than the year before. The situation got worse in 1962 when the Cubs lost 103 games on a 154-game schedule, the worst season the Cubs ever had. And that was the end of the Cubs College of Coaches.

Contributing sources:
Chicago Daily Tribune, 
January 13, 1961, by E. Prell, 
MLB stats
Philip K. Wrigley 

June 15-One that got away

*1964 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – This date in 1964 is infamous for older Chicago Cubs fans. It’s the day the team let a youngster named Lou Brock go in a six-player deal with the rival St. Louis Cardinals. The marquee name the Cubs got was right-handed starter Ernie Broglio. Brock played 16 more seasons for the Cardinals and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Broglio was out of baseball in less than three years after the trade.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Brock was a speedy, 24-year old outfielder who was hitting .251 at the time of the trade and struck out a lot. At the same time, he showed promise as a base stealer and had some pop in his bat.

Some described Broglio at the time as an “aging” hurler. In fact he was 29, and was no slouch. He won 21 games for the Cardinals in 1960 and 18 in ’63. Unfortunately, he won only 7 games for the Cubs over the next two and a half years and was out of baseball by 1967.

Brock paid off for the Cardinals right away. He hit .348 and stole 33 bases the remainder of the ’64 season, helping St. Louis win the World Series against the New York Yankees.

Also part of the trade were pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth who were sent to the Cardinals along with Brock for Broglio, pitcher Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens.

Lou Brock stats
More Lou Brock

April 29-The Lee Elia rant

1983 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Former big league player, coach and manager Lee Elia came across as a friendly, mild mannered guy – except on this date in 1983.

Elia was managing the Chicago Cubs at the time. They may have been loveable losers, but they hadn’t created the cult following they enjoy today.

The Cubs suffered in relative obscurity on many weekday afternoons back then (lights in Wrigley were still 5 years away). The paid attendance on April 29, 1983 was 9,391, and it was a Friday! Two days earlier 3,384 fans showed up. Twenty years later there would typically be that many people standing in line for a Budweiser.

They lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on this date. It was the 14th loss in the first 19 games of 1983.

Lee was not happy, but it wasn’t his players who ticked him off. The following is unedited transcript of what Elia told a reporter who had an audiocassette recorder rolling:


“Fuck those fuckin’ fans who come out here and say they’re Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you, rippin’ every fuckin’ thing you do. I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day, because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.

They’re really, really behind you around here…my fuckin’ ass. What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin’ players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin’ nickel-dime people who turn up? The motherfuckers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the fuckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a fuckin’ living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers. Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin’ cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. We got guys bustin’ their fuckin’ ass, and them fuckin’ people boo. And that’s the Cubs? My fuckin’ ass. They talk about the great fuckin’ support the players get around here. I haven’t see it this fuckin’ year. Everybody associated with this organization have been winners their whole fuckin’ life. Everybody. And the credit is not given in that respect.

Alright, they don’t show because we’re 5 and 14…and unfortunately, that’s the criteria of them dumb fifteen motherfuckin’ percent that come out to day baseball. The other eighty-five percent are earning a living. I tell you, it’ll take more than a 5 and 12 or 5 and 14 to destroy the makeup of this club. I guarantee you that. There’s some fuckin’ pros out there that wanna win. But you’re stuck in a fuckin’ stigma of the fuckin’ Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals an all that cheap shut. It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s a disheartening fuckin’ situation that we’re in right now. Anybody who was associated with the Cub organization four or five years ago that came back and sees the multitude of progress that’s been made will understand that if they’re baseball people, that 5 and 14 doesn’t negate all that work. We got 143 fuckin’ games left.

What I’m tryin’ to say is don’t rip them fuckin’ guys out there. Rip me. If you wanna rip somebody, rip my fuckin’ ass. But don’t rip them fuckin’ guys ’cause they’re givin’ everything they can give. And right now they’re tryin’ to do more than God gave ’em, and that’s why we make the simple mistakes. That’s exactly why.”

The amazing thing is Elia didn’t get fired for his obscenity laced tirade, at least not right away. He kept his job for four more months. He even managed again – the Philadelphia Phillies in 1987 and ’88.

The Philadelphia Enquirer Multimedia, April 23, 2008
Lee Elia managerial record