For those of you looking for “You Know Better”, don’t worry Jason and his colorful opinions will return next week, with that being said I thought we could have a little fun and give the talk of next season and beyond a little break. So until tonight’s game against the Astros let’s look at the humorous side of baseball and the Cubs, like the Old Style commercials say, we all must have a sense of humor.
I have always been a history buff; I guess that is one of the reasons baseball is so appealing to me. The game is full of so many interesting characters, stories and nicknames. So in a rambling form, here are some stories from yesteryear….feel free to share any you might have. - Nicknames are not as interesting as they used to be, tell me “A-Rod” is as colorful as “The Sultan of Swat” or that any nickname is as cool as “The Splendid Splinter” or “Charlie Hustle”. Chris Berman has made a career of giving players nicknames and as annoying as they can be, at least they are creative. After all the “D-Train” is just another version of the “Big Train”.
- During the years he protected right field for the Cubs, Kiki Cuyler was famous for his throwing arm. Against the Giants one afternoon, he cut down Travis Jackson trying to score from second on a single. As Pancho Snyder, Giant third-base coach, passed the Cubs bench, the boys gave him the business. “How’d you like that throw, you big blubberhead?” “He couldn’t do it again in a hundred years,” Pancho growled back. A few innings later, Cuyler again cut down Jackson trying to score from second on a hit. Thereupon one of the Cub bench players thrust his head out of the dugout and yelled at Snyder, “Hey meathead, time sure does fly, doesn’t it?”
- The Cubs went into Spring Training in 1958 with three Taylors, infielder Tony Taylor, catcher Sam Taylor and pitcher Taylor Phillips. “It figures,” remarked a sportswriter. “They can’t have too many tailors for all the holes in the club.”
- From the files of the always quotable Yogi Berra…. Joe Garagiola was sitting around swapping small talk with Yogi, and the conversation drifted to the attendance problem at Kansas City. “The Athletics can’t seem to draw at home,” observed Garagiola. Yogi nodded his head wisely. “If the fans don’t want want to come out,” he said, “nobody can stop them.”
From the Charlie Grimm (Manager 1932-1938, 1944-1949, 1960) Files
- Where most managers cuss out the umpires, Charlie Grimm baited ‘em, sometimes with devastating effect. When Charlie was managing the Cubs, Charlie Moran, an umpire, once called a Cub out at the plate. Several Chicagoans made a wild dash for the arbiter. Grimm quickly leaped out of the dugout. Laying a hand on the ump’s head, he glared at his players and roared, “The first guy who lays a finger on this blind old man is fined fifty bucks.”
- Prompted by a desire to help his club, John Phillips, the Cubs statistician, took a whirl at scouting one summer. He heard about a wonderful young pitcher and hurried out to take a look. The prospect proved to be even greater than anticipated. Phillips phoned his manager, Charlie Grimm. “Charlie,” he said excitedly, “I’ve landed the greatest young pitcher in the land. He struck out every man who came to bat, twenty-seven in a row! Nobody even got a foul until two were out in the ninth. The pitcher is right here with me. What shall I do?” Back came Grimm’s voice. “Sign up the guy who got the foul. We’re looking for hitters.”
- A certain Chicago sportswriter never thought much of Charlie Grimm’s managing and would go out of his way to find fault with it. After Charlie had cinched the pennant race with twenty-one straight victories, the Cubs lost a game. Into the dugout rushed the Grimm-hater. “Grimm,” he sneered, “I knew you couldn’t keep it up.”
- Win or lose, Charlie Grimm never lost his poise or sense of humor. One afternoon, after the Cubs had dropped their fourteenth in a row, Charlie ambled into the writer’s room. Before he could be asked a question, he held up his hand. “You can’t win ‘em all, ” he said.
- Bob Muncrief pitched for the Cubs when Frankie Frisch (1949-1951) was manager. The Pirates once started blasting Bob’s fastball. “Break off that good curve,” Frankie kept saying, “Forget that fastball. Break off that curve.” With the winning run on base, Ralph Kiner stepped into the batter’s box. “Break it off,” Frisch yelled from the dugout. Muncrief broke one off and Kiner slammed it into the bleachers. After the inning was over, Muncrief came back to the bench. “Well, anyway,” he told his manager, “your pitch went farther than mine.”
- The pitcher refused to leave the mound. “Gee,” he told his manager, “I can handle the next hitter. I struck him out the first time I faced him.” “Yeah,” replied the manager sadly, “but that was this inning.”
- The Giants made history in only one respect in 1957. They had a uncle-nephew combination on the pitching staff. On June 13, nephew Jim Davis held the Cubs for eight innings, then was bailed out of a tought spot by uncle Marv Grissom. “At least,” remarked a Cub, “we made ‘em holler uncle.”
It is interesting when you go back and read stories from the past and see how much history does repeat. During the off-season the CCO will look back at least once a week at the History of the Chicago Cubs and some of their colorful characters and how much of an impact the Chicago National League Ballclub had on baseball. These stories I have listed is from a book my grandmother gave me years ago called “Baseball Laughs” by Herman L. Masin. The book has been in my family since it was published in 1964.