Wednesday, January 6, 2010

1969 One Cub At A Time - #640 Fergie Jenkins

The Topps Original....

And my updated version.

Fergie is one on my all-time favorite Cubs. And in 1969 he was establishing himself as one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball.

Jenkins came to the Cubs in a steal of a trade with the Phillies during the 1966 season. He spent most of the season working out of the bullpen. In late August he was moved into the starting rotation and stayed there the rest of his career.

In 1967 he went 20-13 and led the National League with 20 complete games. Do any teams even have that many complete games anymore? He followed that up with a 20-15 record in '68 and 20 more complete games. He had established himself as the ace of the Cubs staff and was ready in 1969 to lead the team to the top.

He again won 20 games in 1969, going 21-15 and led the league in games started, 42. He completed 23 games, the third season in a row he completed at least half of his starts. He was also the league leader in strikeouts with 273. But....

The innings were piling up for Fergie and that begs the question, did he, like many other Cubs, wear out in August and September. A look at his numbers would lead to an answer of "yes."

The first half of the season he was 13-7 with a 2.69 ERA. But in the second half he was 8-8 and his ERA jumped to 4.07. He also had a 1-3 record against the Mets.

In fact, he lost one of the biggest games of the season to the Mets, on September 9. The Cubs lead had dwindled to 1 1/2 games and Fergie was going against Tom Seaver at Shea. It was ace vs. ace. Fergie got rocked, giving up seven runs in seven innings, while Seaver gave up only one run, and the lead was down to half a game. September 9, 1969 was the last night the Cubs spent in first place. The next day they lost to the Phillies while the Mets swept the Expos in a double header, putting the Cubs one game back. The collapse was complete.

Fergie would go on to win at least 20 games three more years with the Cubs, for a total of six consecutive seasons. After slumping in 1973, he was trade to the Rangers and he won 25 for them. But that was his last 20 win season. He had a few more good years with the Rangers and Red Sox, before returning to the Cubs in 1982 and 1983 to finish out his hall of fame career.

Not too long ago Fergie wrote an autobiography, Fergie, My Life from the Cubs to Cooperstown,and it was an interesting book. And you can also watch this documentary, which follows him over the course of the '72 and '73 seasons.

1 comment:

  1. GREAT POST! I had read his book a few years back, but it was a library copy, I would love to find one for sale and re-read it. The thing I love most about baseball in that era is the complete game... Or maybe I should say that the thing I like least about baseball now is pitchers taking a shower after 6 innings...