1969 Chicago Cubs season: Wikis

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1969 Chicago Cubs
Finished 2nd in NL East
Major league affiliations
Location
1969 information
Owner(s) Philip K. Wrigley
General manager(s) John Holland
Manager(s) Leo Durocher
Local television WGN-TV
(Jack Brickhouse, Lloyd Pettit)
Local radio WGN
(Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau)
Stats ESPN.com

BB-reference

The Chicago Cubs' 1969 season involved the Cubs finishing as "the most celebrated 2nd place team in the history of baseball."[1]. Caustic 64 year old Leo Durocher was the Cubs manager. The ill-fated season saw the Cubs in first place for 155 days, until mid-September when they lost 17 out of 25 games.

The 1969 season marked the first year of divisional play in Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves (along with the Cincinnati Reds) were placed in the NL West division, despite being located further east than the 2 westernmost teams in the NL East Division, the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. This was because the New York Mets wanted to be in the same division as the reigning power in the NL, which was the Cardinals at the time (to compensate for playing against the Dodgers and Giants fewer times each season). The Cubs consequently demanded to be in the NL East as well in order to continue playing in the same division as the Cardinals, one of the Cubs' biggest rivals. A side effect of this alignment is that it set the stage for what is considered one of the greatest pennant races - and comebacks in such a race - in MLB history.

Contents

Offseason

  • November 11, 1968: Dave Rosello was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cubs.[2]
  • January 15, 1969: Manny Jimenez was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago Cubs for Joe Campbell and Chuck Hartenstein. [3]
  • March 28, 1969: Charley Smith was purchased by the Cubs from the San Francisco Giants.[4]

Regular season

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Season summary

Hoping to improve on the previous year's 84-78 record, the Cubs began the 1969 season by winning 11 of their first 12 games, and on August 16, they were 75-44, up by a season high nine games over second place New York. By September 2, they had soared to a 84-52 record, well on pace to exceed the previous season's mark, but their lead over the Mets had fallen to five games. From there the Mets went on a tear. The Cubs ultimately lost 17 of the last 25 games of the season, while the Mets went 23-7 to overtake the Cubs and finish eight games ahead of them. It was one of the most astounding late season collapses in history, with the seventeen game turnaround being one of the biggest ever. The Cubs finished 92-70, while the Mets won the National League East and would go on to win the World Series.

Summer of '69

Throughout the summer of 1969, led by All-Star Ron Santo and future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams, and the game calling skills of Randy Hundley behind the plate, the Chicago Cubs had built a substantial lead in the newly created National League East. At the conclusion of each victory 3rd baseman Santo would jump and click his heels in celebration. After starting pitcher Ken Holtzman's no-hitter on August 19, the Cubs led the division by 8½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals and 9½ games over the New York Mets.

The Rise

The 1969 season was bookended by a pair of homers that were memorable in a good and bad way respectively. On opening day at Wrigley Field, April 8, the Cubs trailed the Phillies 6-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning. With a runner on base, Willie Smith hit a game-winning home run into the right field bleachers.[5] This event essentially "lit the fuse" to the Cubs' successful first five months of the season. They would win the next three games, and 11 out of their first 12, and starting a cushion that would extend to 8½ games in mid-August.

The Fall

After the game of September 2, the Cubs record was 84-52 with the Mets in second place at 77-55. But then a losing streak began just as a Mets winning streak was beginning. The Cubs lost the final game of a series at Cincinnati, then came home to play the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates (who would finish in third place). After losing the first two games by scores of 9-2 and 13-4, the Cubs led going into the ninth inning. A win would be a positive springboard since the Cubs were to play a crucial series with the Mets the very next day. But Willie Stargell drilled a 2-out, 2-strike pitch from the Cubs' ace reliever, Phil Regan, onto Sheffield Avenue to tie the score in the top of the ninth. The Cubs would lose 7-5 in extra innings.[6]

Burdened by a four-game losing streak, the Cubs traveled to Shea Stadium for a short two-game set. The Mets won both games, and the Cubs left New York with a record of 84-58 just ½ game in front. Disaster followed in Philadelphia, as a 99 loss Phillies team nonetheless defeated the Cubs twice, to extend Chicago's losing streak to eight games. In a key play in the second game, on September 11, Cubs starter Dick Selma threw a surprise pickoff attempt to third baseman Ron Santo, who was nowhere near the bag or the ball. Selma's throwing error opened the gates to a Phillies rally.

After that second Philly loss, the Cubs were 84-60 and the Mets had pulled ahead at 85-57. The Mets would not look back. The Cubs' eight-game losing streak finally ended the next day in St. Louis, but the Mets were in the midst of a ten-game winning streak, and the Cubs, wilting from team fatigue, generally deteriorated in all phases of the game.[7] . The Mets (who had lost a record 120 games 7 years earlier), would go on to win the World Series. The Cubs, despite a respectable 92-70 record, would be remembered for having lost a remarkable 17½ games in the standings to the Mets in the last quarter of the season.

Bad luck

Some superstitious fans attribute the Cubs collapse to an incident at Shea Stadium on September 9: a black cat (an omen of bad luck) walked behind the Cubs on-deck circle. Some fans blame key errors by center fielder Don Young and Captain Ron Santo's immediate criticism. Still others blame the number of day games that the Cubs had to play. (Lights were not installed in Wrigley Field until 1988.) Chicago's summers are quite humid (85-90 degrees Fahrenheit on average), and playing in this heat day after day may have taken a toll (although the average temperature that summer was 71.8 degrees, which was relatively low).[8] From August 14 through the end of the season, the Mets had an amazing 39-11 record,[9] while the Cubs record was 21-29 for the same period, slumping to 8-17 in September.[10]

Season standings

NL East W L Pct. GB
New York Mets 100 62 .617 --
Chicago Cubs 92 70 .568 8
Pittsburgh Pirates 88 74 .543 12
St. Louis Cardinals 87 75 .537 13
Philadelphia Phillies 63 99 .389 37
Montreal Expos 52 110 .321 48

Notable transactions

Draft Picks

Roster

1969 Chicago Cubs roster
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Other batters

Manager

Coaches

Game log

1969 Chicago Cubs Game Log

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Smith, CharleyCharley Smith 2 2 0 .000 0 0

Pitching

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO

Awards and honors

All-Star Game

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Tacoma Cubs Pacific Coast League Whitey Lockman
AA San Antonio Missions Texas League Jim Marshall
A Quincy Cubs Midwest League Walt Dixon
Short-Season A Huron Cubs Northern League Mel Wright
Rookie Caldwell Cubs Pioneer League George Freese

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Tacoma

Notes

References


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