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Updates

(Chicago Cubs)

(Chicago Cubs)

2020 Season

Season Recap: The Cubs won the super-competitive NL Central but lost to the Marlins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks led the pitching staff and Ian Happ led the team in homers. Fans at Wrigley Field were hoping to see the Cubs win the pennant, but several players—including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber—never got untracked during the short 60-game season.

September 13, 2020: Alec Mills pitched a no-hitter against the Brewers in Milwaukee. It was the 16th no-hitter in team history.

August 30, 2020: Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Heyward each hit two homers against the Phillies. It was the first time in history that all three outfielders on the same team hit two home runs apiece.

Season Preview: The Cubs look like the team to beat in 2020. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant rank among the top players in baseball. The pitching staff includes experienced stars Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, and Jon Lester. If new manager David Ross can keep the bullpen in order, the Cubs will be a lock to make the playoffs.

2019 Season

Season Recap: A late-season sweep in Chicago by the Cardinals ruined the Cubs’ chances to return to the playoffs and it cost manager Joe Madden his job. Relief pitching was a huge problem all year long; the team could have finished with 90-plus wins if they had done just an average job closing out games. Great seasons by Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels, and Yu Darvish went to waste because of a poor bullpen. One of the only things that went right in September was the call-up of shortstop Nico Hoerner, who was sensational in 20 games.

Season Preview: Chicago will rely on the “big three” of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez to put runs on the scoreboard—and Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish to keep runs off. Bryant struggled with a sore shoulder in 2018. If he’s healthy all year in 2019 it will be a game-changer. So will solid years from Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Albert Almora.

2018 Season

Season Recap: Fans at Wrigley Field were hoping to watch their team win another pennant. But the pesky Brewers tied them for first place in the NL Central and beat them in a playoff game. The Cubs then lost the Wild Card Game to the Rockies, ending their season with a pair of heartbreaking losses. On the bright side, Javier Baez enjoyed an MVP-quality season with 83 extra-base hits, 101 runs, 21 stolen bases and 101 RBIs. John Lester and midseason pick-up Cole Hamels pitched well for Chicago, but injuries to closer Brandon Morrow and third baseman Kris Bryant prevented the team from finishing strong.

Season Preview: Chicago fans are still wondering how the pennant slipped away in 2017. The players vow they won’t let that happen again. Chicago has the most talented roster in the NL, with Kris Bryant leading the offense and newcomer Yu Darvish leading the pitching. The team’s projected eighth-place hitter, Javier Baez, could probably bat cleanup for many teams. Despite playing in the competitive NL Central, the Cubs could easily win 100-plus games.

2017 Season

Season Recap: Chicago went through plenty of ups and downs after winning the 2016 World Series, but pulled it together in August and September to win the NL Central. Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez had great years, supported by solid seasons from Kris Bryant Kyle Schwarber, and rookie Ian Happ. The team’s pitching began showing its age at the wrong time, as the Cubs fell to the Dodgers in the NLCS, 4 games to 1.

June 13, 2017: Jon Lester collected his 150th career victory in a game against the Mets.

2016 Season

November 1, 2016: The Cubs were big favorites to win it all in 2016 and they did not disappoint their fans. They led the majors with 103 victories, and Kris Bryant was named NL MVP. Chicago’s offense was hard to stop thanks to Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Addison Russell. The pitching staff was solid all year and every player on the roster contributed in the regular season and postseason. In the playoffs, Chicago defeated the Giants and Dodgers to win the pennant. The young Cubs were over-anxious in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, but came back from a 3–1 deficit to win the championship in seven games. It was the team’s first championship since 1908!

June 27, 2016: Kris Bryant became the first player to hit three homers and two doubles in the same game.

April 21, 2016: Jake Arrieta no-hit the Reds 16–0. The Cubs’ 16 runs was the most for a team in a no-hitter since 1884.

2015 Season

Season Roundup: The Cubs celebrated their 100th season at Wrigley Field by winning 97 games and defeating the Pirates in the Wild Card game and the Cardinals in the NL Division Series. The team’s young hitters came through with big years and Jake Arrieta won 22 games and led the league with a 1.77 ERA. The Cubs hoped to reach their first World Series since 1945, but they could not solve the pitching of the Mets, who took the pennant in the NL Championship Series, 4 games to 0.

October 12, 2015: The Cubs slammed six homers in their playoff victory against the Cardinals. It was the most ever by a team in a postseason game. Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Jose Soler all cleared the fence.

April 5, 2015: Chicago fans have been waiting a long time for the team’s young hitting prospects to come to Wrigley Field. This year, the wait should pay off. Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Arismendy Alcantara will play their first full seasons in the majors, while Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Albert Almora aren’t far behind.

2014 Season

November 1, 2014: The Cubs’ plan in 2014 was to see which of their young players were ready to take the next step toward stardom. That plan produced four top young players—Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Kyle Hendricks—and gave the team the confidence to trade away pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. Jake Arrieta was the Cubs’ most dependable pitcher, while young stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro led the offense.

September 1, 2014: Jorge Soler doubled against the Brewers to become the third player since 1938 to get extra-base hits in each of his first five games.

March 31, 2014: The Cubs may have the best young talent in the NL, but most of their future stars won’t be ready to contribute in 2014. While the fans at Wrigley Field wait for that day, they can enjoy watching Starlin Castro, Mike Rizzo, Junior Lake and Jeff Samardjiza play.

2013 Season

October 1, 2013: Chicago fans suffered through a summer of frustration, as the Cubs’ bats never woke up. Not that the team’s pitching was much better. The lone standouts in 2013 were strikeout artist Jeff Samardzija, 35-year-old reliever Kevin Gregg and late-season call-up Junior Lake. The team’s 96 losses sent them to the NL Central cellar.

May 30, 2013: Cubs pitchers drove in 19 runs during the month. No NL team’s pitching staff had ever had that many RBIs in a month.

March 30, 2013: The Cubs are getting better, but they still have a long way to go. In 2013, the fans at Wrigley Field will be cheering for young stars Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija, and Travis Wood—while waiting for more help to arrive from the minors.

2012 Season

October 3, 2012: Chicago fans did not see the team win many games in 2012, but they got a look at things to come. Young stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro had great seasons, while top prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters got a taste of the big leagues for the first time.

April, 2012: It looks like the Cubs will be relying on several young hitters to help them before the summer is over, including Brian LaHair, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Anthony Rizzo. In the meantime, they added veterans David DeJesus and Ian Stewart to their everyday lineup.

More Go-To Guys

It’s hard to tell from this photo of Ned Williamson, but you can definitely see the string holding up the ball that he’s about to catch. Cameras were much slower in those days—if they had throw the ball to him, it would have been a white blur. (Goodwin & Co.)

This card of John Clarkson shows what pitching was like when there was no mound to throw from. Pitcher’s threw from inside a “box.” (Buchner Co.)

Talk about going out on top! Bill Lange was one of the most popular and successful athletes in America when he quit the game. (National Copper Plate Co.)

Johnny Evers was nicknamed the “Crab” because he was always ready to rumble. (American Caramel Co.)

A lot of baseball historians rate Gabby Hartnett among the Top 50 players in history. (Goudey Gum Co.)

Charlie Root was the pitcher who gave up Babe Ruth’s “called shot” during the 1932 World Series. To his dying day, Root insisted that Ruth did not predict that he would hit that famous home run. (Author’s Collection)

Rick Reuschel threw the same pitch—a sinking fastball—for 20 years, and no one could hit it. Wait, why is he pitching in the outfield? (Author’s Collection)

Lee Smith signed this 1987 baseball card. It was his last year with the Cubs. He held the career record for saves until 2006. (Donruss/Panini)

  • Cap Anson — First Baseman
    Born: 4/17/1852
    Died: 4/14/1922
    Played for Team: 1876 to 1897
    Cap Anson was baseball’s first superstar. In the game’s early years, he filled ballparks around the league and helped the National League succeed. Anson was at his best with runners on base. He led the league in RBIs eight times from 1880 to 1891. At the age of 44, he was still a .300 hitter.

  • Ned Williamson — Third Baseman
    Born: 10/24/1857
    Died: 3/3/1894
    Played for Team: 1879 to 1889
    Ned Williamson was a complete player. He was a sure-handed infielder and a powerful hitter. In 1883 he set a new record for doubles, and in 1884 he set a new record for home runs. Both were a result of the team’s tiny ballpark.

  • Larry Corcoran — Pitcher
    Born: 8/10/1859
    Died: 10/14/1891
    Played for Team: 1880 to 1885
    When Cap Anson had Larry Corcoran and Fred Goldsmith take turns pitching for the White Stockings, he created one of baseball’s first “pitching rotations.” Corcoran was the first pitcher to throw three no-hitters. He won 177 games in only six seasons with Chicago.

  • John Clarkson — Pitcher
    Born: 7/1/1861
    Died: 2/4/1909
    Played for Team: 1884 to 1887
    John Clarkson had a season for the ages in 1885. He won 53 games and struck out 308 batters in an amazing 623 innings. Clarkson had great control and could make the ball dip and curve. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of every batter.

  • Jimmy Ryan — Outfielder
    Born: 2/11/1863
    Died: 10/29/1923
    Played for Team: 1885 to 1889 & 1891 to 1900
    Jimmy Ryan was nicknamed “Pony” for the way he galloped around the bases and chased after balls in center field. He had a powerful batting stroke that produced more than 600 extra-base hits during his years in Chicago.

  • Bill Lange — Outfielder
    Born: 6/6/1871
    Died: 7/23/1950
    Played for Team: 1893 to 1899
    There is almost no doubt that Bill Lange would have been a Hall of Famer—if he hadn’t quit baseball. Lange was one of the NL’s most accomplished players when, at the age of 28, he decided to get married. His wife’s family did not think baseball was a suitable profession. Lange agreed and left the game with a .330 career average and 400 stolen bases in seven seasons.

  • Frank Chance — First Baseman
    Born: 9/9/1876
    Died: 9/15/1924
    Played for Team: 1898 to 1912
    Frank Chance was known as baseball’s “Peerless Leader” when he was player-manager of the Cubs. He guided the team to four pennants and was the NL stolen base leader twice.

  • Joe Tinker — Shortstop
    Born: 7/27/1880
    Died: 7/27/1948
    Played for Team: 1902 to 1913 & 1916
    Joe Tinker was one of the best defensive players in baseball in an era when every run was precious. He could also handle the bat. Tinker often finished among the league leaders in doubles, triple, and home runs.

  • Johnny Evers — Second Baseman
    Born: 7/21/1881
    Died: 3/28/1947
    Played for Team: 1902 to 1913
    Johnny Evers was the most intense competitor in the National League when he played. He was also one of baseball’s smallest players. For most of his career he weighed around 120 pounds.

  • Mordecai Brown — Pitcher
    Born: 10/19/1876
    Died: 2/14/1948
    Played for Team: 1904 to 1912 & 1916
    Mordecai Brown lost the index finger on his right hand in a farm accident as a young man. While recovering, he fell and broke the same hand. Fans would later call him “Three-Finger Brown,” but the truth is that only his thumb and fourth finger escaped injury. Brown discovered that his unusual grip could make a baseball do fantastic things. He won 20 or more games six years in a row for Chicago and was the hero of the 1908 World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

  • Gabby Hartnett — Catcher
    Born: 12/20/1900
    Died: 12/20/1972
    Played for Team: 1922 to 1940
    Gabby Hartnett was one of baseball’s first power-hitting catchers. He had nearly 700 extra-base hits for the Cubs during his career. Hartnett was a great team leader, too.

  • Hack Wilson — Outfielder
    Born: 4/26/1900
    Died: 11/23/1948
    Played for Team: 1926 to 1931
    Hack Wilson led the NL in home runs in four of his six seasons with the Cubs, including 56 in 1930—a league record that lasted until 1998. He also drove in 191 runs that year. That is still a record after more than 80 years.

  • Charlie Root — Pitcher
    Born: 3/17/1899
    Died: 11/5/1970
    Played for Team: 1926 to 1941
    Charlie Root was the team’s best pitcher during the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the Cubs were one of the top teams in baseball. He holds the club record with 201 wins and pitched in four different World Series for Chicago.

  • Hank Sauer — Outfielder
    Born: 3/17/1917
    Died: 8/24/2001
    Played for Team: 1949 to 1955
    Hank Sauer was one of baseball’s best power hitters in the years after World War II. In 1952, he had a magical year. He led the NL in homers and RBIs, and seemed to drive in a run almost every time he had a chance. Sauer was named NL MVP that season despite the fact the Cubs finished with a .500 record.

  • Rick Reuschel — Pitcher
    Born: 5/16/1949
    Played for Team: 1972 to 1981 & 1983 to 1984
    Rick Reuschel had amazing control and was fearless on the mound. Although the Cubs struggled when he pitched for them in the 1970s, Reuschel was always a big winner. His best season was 1977, when he won 20 games.

  • Bruce Sutter — Pitcher
    Born: 1/8/1953
    Played for Team: 1976 to 1980
    During his years with the Cubs, Bruce Sutter perfected a sinking pitch that made him almost unhittable. He was an All-Star four times with Chicago and won the NL Cy Young Award in 1979, when he led the league with 37 saves.

  • Lee Smith — Pitcher
    Born: 12/4/1957
    Played for Team: 1980 to 1987
    Lee Smith was a scary sight. He stood 6–6 and threw his fastball close to 100 miles per hour. He helped the team reach the NLCS for the first time in 1984 when he saved 33 games. Smith had a total of 180 saves for Chicago.

  • Andre Dawson — Outfielder
    Born: 7/10/1954
    Played for Team: 1987 to 1992
    Andre Dawson was runner-up in the MVP race twice when he played for the Montreal Expos. He smashed 49 homers for Chicago in 1987 and led the NL with137 RBIs, which was good enough to finally win the award. Dawson was an All-Star five years in a row with the Cubs and was one of the city’s most popular players.

  • Kerry Wood — Pitcher
    Born: 6/16/1977
    First Year with Team: 1998
    Kerry Wood was a strikeout machine for the Cubs as a starting pitcher. After injuries sent him to the bullpen, he became an All-Star closer. Wood left the Cubs for two years but returned in 2011.

More Fun Facts

Hank Sauer wan known for his bat, not his feet. Even so, he was the NL MVP in 1952. (Topps, Inc.)

  • ARMS OF STEEL
    Hack Wilson developed his powerful batting stroke by swinging a sledgehammer at a locomotive factory as a teenager.

  • SLOWPOKES
    The Cubs’ outfield in the mid-1950s featured Hank Sauer, Frank Baumholtz, and Ralph Kiner. They were good hitters but very slow runners. The newspapers nicknamed them the “Quicksand Kids.”

  • QUICK, DON’T RUN
    During the 1930s, many teams frowned upon basestealing. They preferred to wait for sluggers to hit home runs. In 1938, Stan Hack led the NL with only 16 stolen bases, even though he was one of the fastest runners in baseball. That is still the lowest total ever by an NL stolen base leader.

  • FATHER FIGURE
    Young Lee Smith became a great reliever with the Cubs with the help of a 40-year-old starter. Fergie Jenkins taught Smith how to throw a slider and split-fingered fastball, and also how to mix up his pitches to fool hitters.

League Leaders

This 1888 card of Jimmy Ryan gives you an idea of how strong and tough he was. (Goodwin & Co.)

Stan Hack won the NL batting crown with one of the lowest averages ever. Still, a batting championship is a batting championship—no one in the league was better in 1940. (Goudey Gum Co.)

This card is from 1977, the year after Bill Madlock won his second batting title in a row for the Cubs. (Topps, Inc.)

Bill Nicholson was one of baseball’s top power hitters in the 1940s, but he also struck out a lot. As this book shows, his nickname was “Swish.” (McFarland & Co.)

Kiki Cuyler was a great player for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and later cthe Cubs. He used his speed to lead the league in stolen bases in his first three years with the Cubs. He also led the NL in doubles in 1934. (Goudey Gum Co.)

This cabinet card of “Orvie” Overall was meant to be displayed in a cabinet by Cubs fans. (Mecca)

It’s hard to imagine, but the last Cub to lead the league in ERA was little-known Ray Prim. (Chicago Cubs)

  • Home Runs
    1884 — Ned Williamson — 27
    1885 — Abner Dalrymple — 11
    1888 — Jimmy Ryan — 16
    1890 — Walt Wilmot — 10
    1910 — Wildfire Schulte — 10
    1911 — Wildfire Schulte — 21
    1912 — Heinie Zimmerman — 14
    1916 — Cy Williams — 12
    1926 — Hack Wilson — 21
    1927 — Hack Wilson — 30
    1928 — Hack Wilson — 31
    1930 — Hack Wilson — 56
    1943 — Bill Nicholson — 29
    1944 — Bill Nicholson — 33
    1952 — Hank Sauer — 37
    1958 — Ernie Banks — 47
    1960 — Ernie Banks — 41
    1979 — Dave Kingman — 48
    1987 — Andre Dawson — 49
    1990 — Ryne Sandberg — 40
    2000 — Sammy Sosa — 50
    2002 — Sammy Sosa — 49

  • Batting Average
    1876 — Ross Barnes — .429
    1880 — George Gore — .360
    1881 — Cap Anson — .399
    1884 — King Kelly — .354
    1886 — King Kelly — .388
    1888 — Cap Anson — .344
    1912 — Heinie Zimmerman — .372
    1940 — Stan Hack — .317
    1945 — Phil Cavarretta — .355
    1972 — Billy Williams — .333
    1975 — Bill Madlock — .354
    1976 — Bill Madlock — .339
    1980 — Bill Buckner — .324
    2005 — Derrek Lee — .335

  • Runs Batted In
    1876 — Deacon White — 60
    1880 — Cap Anson — 74
    1881 — Cap Anson — 82
    1882 — Cap Anson — 83
    1884 — Cap Anson — 102
    1885 — Cap Anson — 108
    1886 — Cap Anson — 147
    1888 — Cap Anson — 84
    1891 — Cap Anson — 120
    1906 — Harry Steinfeldt — 83
    1911 — Wildfire Schulte — 107
    1916 — Heinie Zimmerman — 83*
    1929 — Hack Wilson — 159
    1930 — Hack Wilson — 191
    1943 — Bill Nicholson — 128
    1944 — Bill Nicholson — 122
    1952 — Hank Sauer — 121
    1958 — Ernie Banks — 129
    1959 — Ernie Banks — 143
    1987 — Andre Dawson — 137
    1998 — Sammy Sosa — 158
    2001 — Sammy Sosa — 160
    2018— Javier Baez — 111

    * Zimmerman also played for the New York Giants in 1916.

  • Stolen Bases
    1897 — Bill Lange — 73
    1903 — Frank Chance — 67
    1905 — Billy Maloney — 59
    1906 — Frank Chance — 57
    1928 — Kiki Cuyler — 37
    1929 — Kiki Cuyler — 43
    1930 — Kiki Cuyler — 37
    1935 — Augie Galan — 22
    1937 — Augie Galan — 23
    1938 — Stan Hack — 16
    1939 — Stan Hack — 17

  • Wins
    1876 — Al Spalding — 47
    1881 — Larry Corcoran — 31
    1885 — John Clarkson — 53
    1887 — John Clarkson — 38
    1890 — Bill Hutchinson — 41
    1891 — Bill Hutchinson — 44
    1892 — Bill Hutchinson — 36
    1909 — Mordecai Brown — 27
    1912 — Larry Cheney — 26
    1920 — Grover Cleveland Alexander — 27
    1927 — Charlie Root — 26
    1929 — Pat Malone — 22
    1930 — Pat Malone — 20
    1932 — Lon Warneke — 22
    1938 — Bill Lee — 22
    1964 — Larry Jackson — 24
    1971 — Fergie Jenkins — 24
    1987 — Rick Sutcliffe — 18
    1992 — Greg Maddux — 20
    2006 — Carlos Zambrano — 16
    2015 — Jake Arrieta — 22
    2018 — Jon Lester — 18*
    2020 — Yu Darvish — 8

    * Tied with other players

  • Strikeouts
    1880 — Larry Corcoran — 268
    1885 — John Clarkson — 308
    1887 — John Clarkson — 237
    1892 — Bill Hutchinson — 314
    1906 — Fred Beebe — 171
    1909 — Orval Overall — 205
    1918 — Jim Vaughn — 148
    1919 — Jim Vaughn — 141
    1920 — Grover Cleveland Alexander — 173
    1929 — Pat Malone — 166
    1938 — Clay Bryant — 135
    1939 — Claude Passeau — 137*
    1946 — Johnny Schmitz — 135
    1955 — Sam Jones — 198
    1956 — Sam Jones — 176
    1969 — Fergie Jenkins — 273
    2003 — Kerry Wood — 266

    * Claude Passeau also played with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1939.

  • Earned Run Average
    1882 — Larry Corcoran — 1.95
    1898 — Clark Griffith — 1.88
    1902 — Jack Taylor — 1.33
    1906 — Mordecai Brown — 1.04
    1907 — Jack Pfiester — 1.15
    1918 — Jim Vaughn — 1.74
    1919 — Grover Cleveland Alexander — 1.72
    1920 — Grover Cleveland Alexander — 1.91
    1932 — Lon Warneke — 2.37
    1938 — Bill Lee — 2.66
    1945 — Ray Prim — 2.40
    2016 — Kyle Hendricks — 2.13

Playing for the Championship

This program was from the last World Series the Cubs were a part of. (Author’s Collection)

YEAR OPPONENT RESULT
1906 Chicago White Sox Lost 4–2
1907 Detroit Tigers Won 4–0
1908 Detroit Tigers Won 4–1
1910 Philadelphia A’s Lost 4–1
1918 Boston Red Sox Lost 4–2
1929 Philadelphia A’s Lost 4–2
1932 New York Yankees Lost 4–0
1935 Detroit Tigers Lost 4–2
1938 New York Yankees Lost 4–0
1945 Detroit Tigers Lost 4–3

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