Great shot of Kingman hitting a house on Waveland Ave.
The Cubbies spent most of the 70’s hovering around .500. Most seasons they would have quick starts and hover near contention only to have their typical August swoons and drop like an anvil falling from the 6th story on Wile E. Coyote. 1979 would be no different. As late as July 27th they were in 2nd place only a half game out of first. Pennant fever was alive and well in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Then, like clockwork, the swoon hit and the Cubbies went down the tubes and eventually finished 18 games behind the eventual champion Pirates. The Cubs got a career year from their key free agent signee, Dave Kingman. Kong hit 48 homers and knocked in 115 RBI’s. The most impressive stat that he had were the broken windows he was responsible for with his tape measure shots. His .288 batting average was by far a career best. Unfortunately for a team that lives by the long ball the next highest home run total on the team was Jerry Martin’s 19. The pitching was lacking. Big Daddy, Rick Reuschel was the ace (18-12, 3.62). Dennis Lamp (11-10, 3.50) was the number two guy. The rest of the staff was being held together with duct tape. Kenny Holtzman returned after racking up 5 rings elsewhere (OAK/NYY), but he was a shell of his former self (6-9, 4.59). The bet arms were in the pen. Future HOF’er Bruce Sutter (6-6, 2.22, 37 sv) was the best closer in the business in 1973. Setup man Dick Tidrow (11-5, 2.22, 4 sv) was a great in season acquisition. The Cubs sent a fading Bobby Murcer back to the Bronx and got a key cog in Tidrow for their pen. Unfortunately their Batman and Robin of the pen were unable to overcome poor starting pitching and the oppressive summer heat of day games, so this Cub offering was once again doomed to mediocrity.
Editor’s Note: Some interesting photos in this group. I had to laugh when I finished colorizing the Steve Davis B&W shot. My daughter said, “You made him a ginger…He looks like Harpo Marx”. I couldn’t agree with here more. I’m not even sure if he was a red head. I am sure that there weren’t many photos of him to choose from, so I made do with this one until hopefully someone comes forward with a suitable replacement. The Sam Mejias is a average at best colorization. The Pagel shot required some air brush action, since it was his Iowa minor league card and the logos needed to be change. The Geisel shot give me the creeps. He looks eerily like David Berkowitz, who during this late 70’s time frame was randomly murdering young people in NYC. What bad memories that brings back for me, and maybe a few of you who lived through it. My favorite card of this bunch is the Bruce Kimm card. Jim R, Tony and myself searched high and low for a photo of him with the Cubs. He only played a handful of games for the in ‘79, so the best we could come up with was a Cubs photo from when he managed the team 2 decades later. Obviously that wasn’t going to cut it for this project. My first attempt was to doctor up his 1981 White Sox Fleer card (I posted it here to really embarrass myself). After staring at it I knew we couldn’t use it, so were had to move to Plan “C”. I took his 1977 Tigers card and spent 20-30 minutes cutting / pasting and airbrushing the heck out of it to get him into a Cubs uni. When I finished I was immensely proud of myself until my daughter (she has lots of opinions) said, “You realize you spent more time on this card than he spent on the field that year”. At that moment two dueling feeling swept through me: Boy am I proud that my daughter is that analytical and Did I really spend 30 minutes making a serviceable photo for a guy who batted .091 in 9 games ?