If you have been a Cubs fan the past few generations, you have seen some of your favorite players experience post season glory.
In a 9 year span in the 1980s, three of your bullpen closers got the final out of the World Series.
And another was the starting pitcher in three consecutive World Series openers.
One homered in two straight LCS games to clinch the pennant and then won Game 1 of the World Series with a tie breaking shot.
Two earned NLCS MVP honors before leading their team to the World Series title in the 1980s.
One ended a marathon World Series game with a 12th inning single.
Another faced a mighty Oakland team and batted .750. Another sank Montreal with a 9th inning game tying homer.
One drove in the tying run in the bottom of the 9th inning of a playoff elimination game against Mariano Rivera, sparking an improbable come back.
Another won the World Series with a walk off 7th game hit off of Mariano Rivera.
And another hit one of the most dramatic home runs in World Series history.
“Now WAIT A SECOND, Sully!” you might say. “The Cubs haven’t even been in a World Series since 1945! How could this many Cubs have had recent World Series glory?”
Ah… I didn’t say they were PLAYING for the Cubs when they won.
These are FORMER Cubs who left Wrigleyville. They helped lead another team to a World Championship that has eluded the Cubs since 1908 when they played in the West Side Grounds.
The origin of this blog post is a conversation I had with my good friend, the comedian Rob Paravonian. While doing an interview on my podcast that will be played next week, we were talking about great Cubs who went on to leave Chicago and win the World Series elsewhere.
Well in the world of Sully Baseball, we don’t just make idle chit chat.
We create lists!
So I used my 25 man roster template that I have used for The Home Grown vs Acquired Series among others.
I have 25 roster spots to fill…
One starter for each position.
Five starting pitchers.
A top pinch hitter off of the bench (No DH in the National League!)
Two reserve infielders.
Two reserve outfielders.
A reserve catcher.
And a 25th man, who could be either a pitcher or a position player.
They have to be players who played for the Cubs big league squad (not just the farm system). And they had to have played in the World Series for a championship team after their time in Chicago.
Sadly for Cub fans, there was a surplus of players to pick from.
Holy Cow, let’s look at this roster… which includes many teammates… and imagine how many titles could have been won in Chicago if they kept a few!
25 Man Roster
Starting Catcher – SMOKY BURGESS
A product of the Cubs farm system, Burgess played briefly with the 1949 and 1951 Cubs before being traded to Cincinnati in a deal involving Johnny Pramesa (who played 22 games in Chicago) and Bob Usher (who played 1 game for the Cubs.)
As a member of the Phillies and the Pirates he became a six time All Star and one of the great pinch hitters of all time. He was the starting catcher for the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .333 in the World Series against the Yankees.
Starting First Baseman – MARK GRACE
One of the truly beloved Cubs of his generation, Grace played 13 seasons in Wrigley Field. He was a consistent .300 hitter with line drive power. He batted .647 with an OPS of 1.799 and 8 RBI in the Cubs 1989 NLCS loss to the Giants.
In 2001 he left the Cubs and joined the Diamondbacks. In the 4th game of the 2001 World Series, he hit a game tying home run in Yankee Stadium off of El Duque Hernandez. And in the climactic game 7, it was Mark Grace’s 9th inning lead off single that sparked the World Series winning come from behind rally off of Mariano Rivera.
I know several Cubs fans who said that seeing Mark Grace win a World Series ring almost felt like the Cubs won it that year.
Starting Second Baseman – MANNY TRILLO
Trillo came to Chicago from Oakland as part of the Billy Williams trade after the 1974 World Series. He teamed up with Ivan DeJesus to create a tremendous defensive double play combination. He was named to the 1977 All Star team as a Cub.
After the 1978 season he was dealt to Philadelphia. In the 1980 NLCS, Trillo batted .381, made some key defensive plays and got a clutch 8th inning 2 run triple in the deciding 5th game. He was named the series MVP. In the 1980 World Series, he drove in the winning run of Game 5 and helped the Phillies win their first ever World Series title.
He would go on to make 3 more All Star teams, with 3 Gold Gloves and 2 Silver Slugger Awards. He returned to the Cubs in 1986 as a utility player.
Starting Shortstop – JOSE VIZCAINO
A classic survivor/utility man, Vizcaino played for 18 seasons as a good hitting, no power and versatile infielder. The Cubs were the second of the 8 teams he played for as he called Wrigley home from 1991 to 1993.
He was traded away to the Mets and eventually landed with the Yankees. In the first game of the 2000 World Series, Vizcaino got the start as Chuck Knoblauch’s defensive woes regulated him to DHing. Vizcaino responded with 4 hits. One of the hits was a 2 out RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning off of Turk Wendell to give the Yankees a walk off victory. The Yankees would win the World Series in 5 games.
In 2005, Vizcaino got a 9th inning 2 out 2 run single to tie Game 2 of the World Series as a member of the Astros. Houston would lose that series but Vizcaino would get a World Series ring the next year as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
And, according to our friends at Hire Jim Essian, he was a classic Cub killer when he returned to Wrigley.
Starting Third Baseman – BILL MADLOCK
Part of the payment from Texas in the Fergie Jenkins trade, Madlock was one of the best right handed hitters of the 1970s. He won back to back batting titles with the Cubs in 1975 and 1976 and saw his OPS soar to .916 in 1976.
His famously bad temper got him into trouble and maybe wore out his welcome in Chicago as he was traded to San Francisco for Bobby Murcer before the 1977 season.
But it was in Pittsburgh where he became a champion. Dealt to the Pirates midway through the 1979 season, he was welcomed by the Fam-A-Lee and batted .375 in the World Series victory against Baltimore. He went on to win two more batting titles with the Pirates and later hit several dramatic playoff homers as a member of the Dodgers.
Starting Left Fielder – LOU BROCK
In my Cardinals Home Grown vs. Acquired entry, I defended the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio trade. In 1964, the deal made sense. The Cubs needed pitching and Broglio was a Cy Young contender with an 18-8 record and a 2.99 ERA the year before. Plus the Cardinals included Bobby Shantz, a former MVP who was now a good reliever and young outfielder Doug Clemens.
The other players the Cubs gave up on, Jack Spring and Paul Toth, were throw ins. So basically in exchange for a promising young outfielder, the Cubs got a top pitcher, a solid reliever and a possible replacement in the outfield. All criticism of the deal was in retrospect.
Granted, the Cubs didn’t know that not only would Brock go on to get 3,000 hits and become the stolen base king, but he would help lead the hated Cardinals to World Series titles in 1964 and 1967 and a pennant in 1968. By the way, he hit .391 in those three World Series with an OPS of 1.079. So yeah, looking back the deal didn’t work.
Starting Center Fielder – BILLY HATCHER
After the 1985 season, the Cubs decided to trade for veteran outfield depth and struck a deal for Astros outfielder Jerry Mumphrey, who played with the Cubs until he retired after the 1988 season.
The price was young Billy Hatcher, who cemented his place in Astros lore with a game tying 14th inning home run to hold off elimination in the 1986 NLCS.
Later Hatcher landed in Cincinnati where he batted .333 in the 1990 NLCS against Pittsburgh. Then in the 1990 World Series he hit a mindboggling .750 with an OPS of 2.050 in the 4 game sweep of the Oakland A’s.
Starting Right Fielder – ANDY PAFKO
Wisconsin born fan favorite “Handy Andy” was a four time All Star for the Cubs and starred on the 1945 National League Champs, to date the last Cubs team to play in the World Series. He was dealt to Brooklyn during the 1951 season, just in time to be part of the great collapse against the New York Giants.
After playing for the 1952 National League Champs in Brooklyn he was dealt to Milwaukee. There as a member of the Braves, he played in the 1957 World Series. He got two hits in the Braves 1-0 Game 5 win and was on the field when Milwaukee beat the Yankees in 7 games for the title.
When I was producing at The Bonnie Hunt Show, one of my guests was the great comedian George Wallace. He was a huge Braves fan (literally and figuratively) and wanted to present Bonnie with a present. I didn’t tell Bonnie he was going to do this because I always felt like the show was at its best when it was spontaneous.
He gave Bonnie an autographed Greg Maddux jersey. Bonnie, a devoted Cubs fan, loved the gift but saw there was a little jab in it as well. George said “I wanted you to have a Maddux jersey that he wore when he WON a World Series!” Even with a nice gesture, Cubs fans get grief.
I would argue that if the Braves signing of Greg Maddux isn’t the GREATEST free agent move of all time, it can’t be any lower than second. He left the Cubs after winning the 1992 Cy Young and proceeded to have one of the greatest runs a pitcher has had EVER… and doing it in the steroid era no less. His complete game victory got the 1995 World Series off to the right stuff and, as George alluded to, he won his ring.
The left hander was a star out of the University of Illinois. Being left handed and Jewish, he was billed as the next Sandy Koufax. He wasn’t THAT good (who was?) but proceeded to put up some solid numbers for the Cubs. He threw a no hitter against a powerful Braves team in 1969 and then another one against the eventual NL Champion Reds in 1970.
He requested a trade after the 1971 season and landed in Oakland. His timing was outstanding. He made a pair of All Star teams in Oakland, won 21 games in 1973 and was the Game 1 starter for the 1972, 1973 and 1974 World Series. The A’s won all three titles and Holtzman himself tallied a 4-1 series record. For good measure he won another ring with the 1977 Yankees before returning to the Cubs with 4 titles as a swing man in 1978.
Hooton was the second pick in the 1971 June Secondary Phase draft (remember that?) He went right to the majors and threw a no hitter on the second day of the 1972 season. He pitched well for some less than stellar Cubs teams and a month into the 1975 season he was dealt to the Dodgers. There he blossomed.
He finished second in the 1978 Cy Young vote and helped pitch the Dodgers to the 1977 and 1978 World Series.
In the strike shortened 1981 season, Hooton went 11-6 with a 2.28 ERA. He went 4-1 in the post season, winning the 1981 NLCS MVP and being the winning pitcher in the clinching World Series Game 6 as the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the Bronx.
Moyer has been around for so long that I had to double check to see that he wasn’t on the 1908 World Champion Cubs squad. Moyer broke in with the 1986 Cubs (along with Greg Maddux) and pitched well but hardly blew anyone away.
His fastball wouldn’t get a speeding ticket even in a school zone and was not exactly imposing on the mound. He was dealt to Texas along with Rafael Palmeiro after the 1988 season and by 1991 he was flopping with the Cardinals and out of the majors in 1992.
Then… oddly… his career rebounded. And it wasn’t a steroids renaissance. His fastball still was the stuff that batting practice was made of. But the 34 game winner pitched for another 18 seasons and raised his total to 267. He played in the post season first with the Mariners and then with the Phillies. He pitched 6 1/3 solid innings in his lone start in the 2008 World Series as he helped Philadelphia win the championship. As I wrote in my article in The Hardball Times, if he was just a little bit better in his Cubs days, he might be a borderline Hall of Famer.
Morgan played for 12 teams in his strange but wonderful career. He pitched from 1978 to 2002, with a few seasons lost here and there, spanning over a generation of players.
He had two tours with the Cubs. The first one began in 1992 when he went 16-8 with a 2.55 ERA, arguably his best season. He was dealt to the Cardinals in 1995 but returned to the Cubs in 1998. He gave up Mark McGwire’s 61st homer and later made his first post season appearance in the Cubs loss to the Braves.
Later he pitched for the Diamondbacks out of the bullpen in the 2001 World Series and won his ring alongside Mark Grace. A year later he was out of baseball after 22 seasons.
Bruce Sutter was drafted by the Cubs. He was developed by the Cubs. He learned his split finger pitch with the Cubs. He won the Rolaids Fireman of the Year with the Cubs. He won the Cy Young with the Cubs.
So when he was elected to the Hall of Fame, the hat on his plaque was naturally… a Cardinals hat.
For all of his great moments in Chicago, nothing shone brighter than his Babe Ruth Award Winning performance in the 1982 post season where he clinched both the pennant and the World Championship for St. Louis.
I am sure that doesn’t sting in Cubs Country.
When Eck was dealt from the Red Sox to the Cubs for Bill Buckner during the 1984 season, he looked like a starting pitcher whose best days were behind him. Gone were the All Star appearances and the Cy Young contending seasons.
He pitched well for the Cubs in 1984, helping them win the Division. But by 1986 he looked done and just before the 1987 season began, the Cubs dumped him off to Oakland in exchange for Mark Leonette, Dave Wilder and Brian Guinn. Who? Exactly.
The A’s had the idea of trying him out as a closer. It kind of worked as he picked up an MVP, a Cy Young Award and the 1988 ALCS MVP. He got the final out of the 1989 World Series, sealing the title for the A’s… the same year that bullpen issues derailed the Cubs in the NLCS.
He went to the Hall of Fame wearing an A’s cap. Maybe the Cubs should have thought of making him a closer.
In 6 and a half seasons in Wrigley Field, Willie Hernandez didn’t exactly set the National League on fire.
He was a serviceable reliever and an ineffective starter between 1977 and 1983. The Cubs sent him packing during the 1983 season to Philadelphia where he helped the Phillies clinch the pennant.
The Phillies then dealt him to Detroit. Maybe the American League was better suited for him. In his first season in Detroit, he anchored one of the best teams of the decade and became a lock down closer. He pitched 140 1/3 innings out of the pen, winning 9, saving 32 and pitching to a 1.92 ERA.
He not only won the American League Cy Young but also the AL MVP for 1984 and was on the mound when the Tigers clinched the World Series… the same year late inning collapses prevented the Cubs from winning the pennant.
The Cubs stole Howell from the Reds organization for perennial reserve catcher Mike O’Berry. Instead of holding on to him, the Cubs dealt him away after a season to the Yankees for Pat Tabler.
Eventually Howell was dealt to the A’s in the Rickey Henderson trade and later to the Dodgers in the amazingly complex three team deal that sent Bob Welch to Oakland and Alfredo Griffin and Jesse Orosco to the Dodgers.
Howell became the bullpen closer for the Dodgers 1988 Division winner but was suspended in the playoffs when pine tar was discovered in his glove. Later in the World Series he let up a walk off homer to Mark McGwire. But the very next night pitched 2 1/3 strong shutout innings to get a key save and give the Dodgers a 3-1 series lead. They clinched the next night giving the eventual 2 time All Star a World Series ring.
Myron Walter Drabowsky was born in Poland in 1935. That must have been a fun time to be Polish. He ended up in Connecticut and then joined the Cubs as a bonus baby in 1956. His starting pitching days never did lead to stardom. The Cubs traded him away after the 1960 season.
Eventually he landed in Baltimore where in 1966 be blossomed into a solid reliever. His greatest moment came in Game 1 of the 1966 World Series. In the third inning, the Orioles were already up 4-1 over the defending World Champion Dodgers, but L. A. was rallying. They loaded the bases against Dave McNally with only one out.
Moe Drabowsky came in to relieve McNally. One inherited runner scored (former Cub, Lou Johnson) but he escaped the inning relatively unharmed. He pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings, giving up only 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 11. He won the game and Lou Johnson’s run was the final Dodger run of the SERIES! The Orioles would sweep the series. Drabowsky would also be a part of the 1970 World Champion Orioles team. Not bad for a Bonus Baby.
Top Pinch Hitter – LUIS GONZALEZ
In 1995, the Astros and Cubs swapped catchers. Rick Wilkins was sent packing to Houston while Scott Servais went to Wrigleyville. The Astros also sent Gonzalez to Chicago in the deal. He was a 27 year old left handed line drive hitting outfielder. He hit for a decent average, but nothing spectacular. And he was a 10-15 home run hitter whose OPS would hover around .780 to .800.
He hit well in his year and a half with the Cubs before returning to the Astros as a free agent in 1997. When he reached his 30s, after never hitting more than 15 home runs in a season, he suddenly exploded into one of the most feared sluggers in the league, hitting 57 home runs at age 33 for the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. That was 42 more homers than he hit in any season in his 20s. Not saying anything. Just stating facts.
Of course his biggest hit wasn’t a home run. It was a bloop single off of Mariano Rivera that drove in Jay Bell and ended the 2001 World Series.
Reserve Infielder – MARK BELLHORN
After cups of coffee with the A’s over four different seasons, the Boston born Bellhorn was traded to Chicago in a minor league deal. He put up some big league numbers in 2002, his one full season in Wrigley. He hit 27 homers that year. On August 29th, 2002, he became the first National Leaguer to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning.
He was dealt to Colorado the next year and landed in Boston in 2004. After an up and down season in Fenway, he hit the key 3 run homer in the dramatic Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. The next day his home run off of Tom Gordon put Game 7 out of reach. Then his home run in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series broke an 8th inning tie and was the game winner. Then he doubled home 2 key runs in the Red Sox Game 2 World Series win. He batted .300 and had an OPS that was a team high 1.263. I believed he should have been the World Series MVP.
Reserve Infielder – BILL MUELLER
Mueller (pronounced Miller… not ME-You-Ler) was a slick fielding, strong hitting third baseman who played on two Division Winners with San Francisco before being traded after the 2000 playoffs to the Cubs for reliever Tim Worrell.
He hit well in 70 games for the Cubs in 2001 but was not exactly an impact player in 2002 when he was traded back to the Giants.
In 2003, he landed in Boston where he won a surprising batting title. The next season he became Mariano Rivera’s personal tormentor. He hit a walk off homer off of Rivera in July of 2004. Then in Game 4 of the ALCS, it was Mueller’s single that scored Dave Roberts and tied the game in the 9th. He went on to bat .429 in the 2004 World Series with an OPS of 1.127, helping the Red Sox end the curse.
Meanwhile people are STILL talking about Billy Goats.
Reserve Outfielder – BILL NORTH
North was developed by the Cubs to be a speed demon outfielder. He hit for a solid average and stole his share of bases for the Cubs farm teams in San Antonio and Wichita before making the big league club for good in 1972.
He hit poorly (a .181 average stinks no matter what curve you are grading on) and only stole 6 bases in 66 games. The Cubs traded him to Oakland for Bob Locker before the 1973 season. In Oakland he became the premier base stealer in the league. He stole 53 in 1973. In 1974 and 1976 he led the league in steals. (He would also lead the league in caught stealing four times in his career!)
An injury kept him out of the 1973 post season but he was the starting center fielder for the 1974 World Champion Oakland A’s.
That was the same year he got into a clubhouse fight with Reggie Jackson and Ray Fosse and all three wound up injured. Does that make him a BAD clubhouse guy?
Reserve Outfielder – RICK MONDAY
The first player ever drafted in the inaugural Amateur Draft of 1965, he was the hope for the Kansas City A’s and later the Oakland A’s. He became an All Star in Oakland and played in the 1971 playoffs. But Monday was traded to the Cubs for Ken Holtzman, thus missing out on the A’s three straight World Championships.
With the Cubs, Monday became a solid left handed hitting center fielder. He hit a career high 32 homers in 1976 and famously saved an American flag from being burned in Dodger Stadium.
I guess he made an impression on the Dodgers who traded for him the next year for Bill Buckner. His home run in the deciding Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS broke a 9th inning tie and sunk the Expos hopes for a pennant. The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series against the Yankees.
Reserve Catcher – JOE GIRARDI
Joe Girardi seemed destined to be part of the Cubs. He was born in Peoria, Illinois where he was a high school football and baseball star. He went to college at Northwestern University and was drafted by the Cubs in the 5th round of the 1986 draft.
In 1989, when injuries forced Cubs catcher Damon Berryhill to the disabled list, Giradi found himself as the starting catcher for the Cubs in the NLCS. He made an impression on his manager, Don Zimmer. When Zimmer became a coach for the expansion Rockies in 1993, he made sure Colorado brought Girardi along. When Zimmer became Joe Torre’s bench coach with the Yankees, once again Girardi made the trip with him.
It was with the Yankees that he became a champion several times over. Girardi’s triple off of Greg Maddux gave New York the lead for good in the World Series clinching Game 6 of the 1996 World Series. He would be the starting catcher for the World Series clinchers of 1996 and 1998 and be on the 1999 World Series winners for good measure.
Later he managed the Yankees to the 2009 World Championship. There have been rumors that he wants to return to the Cubs as a manager. It IS the role he seems to be born to play.
25th Man – JOE CARTER
For the 25th man, I decided to pick a World Champion who had the unique opportunity to live every Little Leaguer’s fantasy, and I assume every Cubs fans fantasy as well.
The 1981 College Player of the Year at Wichita State, Carter shot up to the majors in 1983 at age 23. He didn’t make too much of an impression in 52 plate appearances over 23 games in Wrigley. He didn’t hit a homer and batted .176 with a .235 slugging percentage.
But he was a good enough prospect to send packing to Cleveland in the Rick Sutcliffe trade. He became an MVP candidate in Cleveland and after a cameo with the Padres landed in Toronto where he put up terrific power numbers and recorded the final out in the 1992 World Series win over the Braves.
He hit 209 home runs as a Blue Jay, including regular season and post season. But of course none was bigger than his walk off, 3 run, World Series ending home run in 1993. His tour around the bases is one of my favorite expressions of pure joy in a sporting event. It wasn’t choreographed nor planned ahead. It was a wild, crazed sincere dance around the bases… one that came at the expense of ANOTHER former Cub, Mitch Williams.
Watch that clip, Cubs fans, and imagine it took place at Wrigley Field. I used to watch it and pretend it was at Fenway Park.
So there you have it. A collection of post season heroes, MVPs and players who got some of the great World Series highlights in their team’s history.
They were all Cubs… they just didn’t win WITH the Cubs.
That’s nit picking.