Barry Foote Day at Wrigley Field

Weird things happen at Wrigley Field. It’s baseball’s version of a box of chocolate; you never know what you’ll find. Tub slides in urinals, goats being denied admission, Barry Foote driving in eight; it’s a bizarre place.

On April 22nd, 1980 the bizarre occurrences began with the weather. Ask anyone who has attended April games in Wrigley Field and they’ll tell you to bundle up. Few places on earth can be colder than Wrigley Field at the beginning of the season. But the temperature on this day was a record-setting 92. That temperature also came with a slight wind to keep patrons comfortable at the Friendly Confines. That breeze was measured at 22 MPH blowing out to right field. Warm temps and high winds at Wrigley means lots of runs, and the Cubs and Cardinals didn’t disappoint.

The First Three

Things began innocently enough. The Cardinals scored two in the top of the 1st off Cubs starter Dennis Lamp on a hit by Bobby Bonds and an error by 3rd baseman Steve Ontiveros. Chicago got one back in the bottom of the frame when Ivan de Jesus homered off Cardinals starter Bob Forsch.

Each team added a run in the 2nd, and the Cardinals added three more in the top of the 3rd on homers by Bobby Bonds and Ken Reitz, but the Cubs ties it at 6 in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back hits by Jerry Martin and Barry Foote.

The Middle Three

Lamp’s afternoon was mercifully over after three innings and had he said he never wanted to pitch in Wrigley Field ever again no one could have blamed him. On this day, he surrendered seven runs on six hits and it wasn’t even his worst home start. Less than a year earlier he drew the start in another game with the wind blowing out. In that contest, Lamp faced the Philadelphia Phillies, who won the game 23-22. Lamp was the Cubs starter and gave up six runs in a third of an inning.

Lynn McLauglin followed Lamp and didn’t fare any better, giving up five runs on four hits and a walk in two-third of an inning. St. Louis added another run in the top of the fourth to grab a 12-6 lead, but the Cubs came storming back.

Four hits in the bottom of the 5th, including an RBI triple from Ivan DeJesus, gave Chicago three runs and chased Forsch from the game. Getting 12 runs through five innings is a pitcher’s dream. Not being able to last long enough to get the win is the stuff nightmares are made of.

The Final Three

The Man of the Hour

The Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th, prompting St. Louis manager Ken Boyer to call on lefty Don Hood to face the left-handed batting Bill Buckner. Billy Buck was on his way to a batting title in 1980, so a lefty/lefty matchup didn’t bother him and his opposite-field single plated Mike Tyson to pull the Cubs a bit closer.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the 8th, but Bruce Sutter, in relief of Dick Tidrow, struck out Tony Scott to end the threat. In the bottom of the frame, Foote came through again with a solo home run off Roy Thomas to tie the game at 12. Sutter retired the Cardinals without incident in the top of the 9th to set up a dramatic finish.

A Dave Kingman single followed by walks to Buckner and Jerry Martin brought Foote up again in the bottom of the 9th inning against Mark Littell. With two outs, Littell hung a slider and Foote jumped on it, sending it into the basket in right-center field for a walk-off grand slam. Foote’s linescore looked pretty good at the end of the day: Four hits in six at-bats, with 2 homers, a double and 8 RBI.

Chicago manager Preston Gomez summed it up well. “Wrigley Field, that’s what you expect when you see the flag blowing out.”

 

 

June 20th, 1980 was weird

Flea goes for 3 and other oddities

“Is it a full moon or somethin’?”

That’s what my mother-in-law says when weird stuff happens. June 20th, 1980 must have featured multiple full moons because some bizarre crap went down. On the field, it began in Boston when the Red Sox hosted the California Angels.

The Angels were decimated by injuries but the lineup still featured Rod Carew, Carney Lansford Joe Rudi and Bobby Grich, so Boston starter Steve Renko could be forgiven for looking past the Angels shortstop. Standing 5’5” and weighing just under 150 pounds, Freddie “The Flea” Patek wasnt the kind of player to strike fear in the heart of opposing pitchers, but that didn’t stop him from putting on a prodigious power display on this evening.

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Patek stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 3rd against Dick Drago (Renko had already been knocked out of the game) and hit a three run shot to give the Angels a 10-0 lead.

He homered again to lead off the Angels’ 5th, and after grounding into a double play in his next at bat, Patek came to the plate in the 8th inning, again with Harlow on base, and he homered again, this time off Jack Billingham, to give the Angels a 17-0 lead.

He had a chance to become just the eleventh player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game, joining the likes of Lou Gehrig, Mike Schmidt and Willie Mays, when he came up in the 9th inning, but Bill Campbell struck him out.

“The whole thing is just amazing to me but it happens,” Patek told reporters after the game. “The fourth time up I was just trying to hit the ball and stay with what I know. I just wanted to hit the ball somewhere, but I struck out.”

Al Cowens vs. Ed Farmer

On the same night that Patek was putting on a power hitting display at Fenway, Detroit outfielder Al Cowens put on a display of an entirely different sort in Chicago. The Tigers and White Sox were tied in the top of the 11th inning when Cowens stepped in against Chicago relief pitcher Ed Farmer.

Farmer was looking to keep the Tigers off the board in hopes of picking up a win. Cowens was looking for revenge. The two were facing each other for the first time since the previous May when a Farmer pitch sailed inside and shattered Cowens’ jaw.

Al Cowens
Cowens got lost on the way to 1st base

This time around Farmer’s pitch was over the plate and Cowens grounded out. But as the ball bounced to shortstop Todd Cruz, Cowens must have gotten lost on the way to first base and charged the pitcher’s mound, causing a bench-clearing brawl.

American League President Lee McPhail acted swiftly, suspending Cowens for seven games and fining him an undisclosed amount. But that wasn’t the only trouble he faced. Farmer filed charges in Cook County Circuit Court, and a judge issued a warrant for Cowens’ arrest on an assault-and-battery charge.

When the Tigers returned to Chicago in August for a two-game series Cowens did not make the trip due to the outstanding warrant. Ever the instigators, White Sox fans hung a huge banner in the outfield that read, “Cowens the Coward.”

The two eventually buried the hatchet in September when the White Sox traveled to Detroit. They met at home plate to exchange lineup cards and Cowens apologized for charging the mound. Farmer accepted and later dropped the criminal charges he had filed.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over and done with,” Farmer told the media.

“I’m relieved,” said Cowens. “So much has been made of this. Every time I turned around there were headlines about it. The whole thing has been tough, but it’s a dead issue now.”

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Each Other

Nineteen-Eighty was a rough year for the St. Louis Cardinals. They began June 9.5 games out of first place and had just finished a two-game series against the Astros in which they scored zero runs when their team bus pulled up to the Stouffer’s Cincinnati Towers early in the morning of June 20th.

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A foul mood must have been prevalent because a shoving match broke out between pitcher John Fulgham and first baseman Keith Hernandez as they stepped off the bus. Fulgham had been out with a sore shoulder (which turned out to be a torn rotator cuff) and Hernandez had been giving him grief about it. There was also bad blood between the two because Hernandez reportedly had laughed after Fulgham gave up a home run in Montreal earlier in the season.

Teammates were able to separate the two before punches were thrown, though one report said the “brawl” spilled onto the sidewalk and involved as many as 10 members of the team.

Leonard-DuranIt was probably just a coincidence that the two baseball fights took place on the same day that Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard in front of more than 46,000 people at Olympic Stadium, home of the Montreal Expos.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t.