Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wrigley Field's Highest Scoring Game

The Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have had many wild, high scoring games in past seasons. In 1923, the played a 26-23 game. But the one I'm referring to is the infamous game of May 17, 1979 in which the Cubs banged out 26 hits, including 6 home runs, and 22 runs, but in keeping with tradition, still managed to lose. It was one of those warm spring days with a strong wind from the Southwest, blowing out to center field.

The final score was 23-22, when future Phillie Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt hit his second home run of the game in the 10th inning, off future Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter.

The Cubs had made an amazing comeback in the game. They were trailing the Phils by 12 runs in the 5th inning (21-9), but they rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings. No major league baseball team had ever erased a 12 run deficit in a game before or since. Going into the game, the Phillies had the best pitching staff; but the game all but destroyed their shell-shocked pitchers, and the team went into a tailspin, dropping out of first place and culminating when their manager Danny Ozark was fired in August.

Many of the players went on to bigger and better things, except for the hapless pitchers in the game (Bruce Sutter notwithstanding). Bill Buckner hit a grand slam homer for the Cubs off pitcher Tug McGraw (father of country singer Tim McGraw). Buckner achieved notoriety in the 1986 World Series when he muffed a gentle ground ball in the 9th inning to cost the Boston Red Sox the championship.

Dave (King Kong) Kingman hit 3 homers for the Cubs that day. He went on to hit 442 homers in his career and not make the Hall of Fame. In his final season he hit 35 homers and got released
(fired), and no other team wanted him. His problem was that he struck out a lot, hit for a very low average, couldn't catch the ball and couldn't get along with his teammates. But when he did hit the ball, it went a long distance. One of his homers that day sailed out of Wrigley Field and landed on the next block down Kenmore Avenue--over 500 feet away.

Pete Rose, with the Phillies, later went to Princeton, er-- Prison, for tax evasion. He also admitted illegally betting on games. He broke Ty Cobb's lifetime record for hits with 4256 hits in his career, but was shut out of the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, a notorious racist, who also bet on games, would not make the Hall of Fame either under today's standards.

The line score of the game was as follows:

Philadelphia 708 240 100 1--23-24-2
Chicago Cubs 600 373 030 0--22-26-2




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