Look out below!! Because the 1980 Cubs are heading toward the basement!
This was a really bad season. On paper, it looked like things could be OK. The Cubs had the reigning NL home run champ, Dave Kingman, and the defending Cy Young Award winner, Bruce Sutter. First baseman Bill Buckner was at the top of his game, too. But.....
....the team had a new manager, as Herman Franks had quit during the last week of the 1979 season. The team's choice for manager was an odd one, veteran manager Preston Gomez. During six seasons leading the Padres and Astros, Gomez had a .392 career winning percentage. That is an abysmal record. And he last managed in 1975. So what about him looked attractive to Cubs GM Bob Kennedy?
Preston didn't even finish the season. He got canned after only 90 games, of which the Cubs won only 38. Joey Amalfitano took over the remaining 72 games and the Cubs did even worse with him, winning only 26 and losing 46. So that put the season record at 64-98, dead last and 27 games out of first.
Usually the media guide listed highlights from the past season, but the 1981 book had no list for 1980. I struggled a bit, and came up with these...
....Bill Buckner leading the National League in hitting with a .324 average
....Two four game win streaks, the high for the season (how pathetic is that!)
....The longest game in Cubs history, 5 hours and 31 minutes, on July 6, a game the Cubs lost to the Pirates in 20 innings.
....the biggest highlight was on October 5. The season ended that day!
The team drew only 1,206,776 fans to Wrigley Field, which was 8th of the 12 teams in the league. The biggest crowd of the season was a late-June doubleheader against the Cardinals that drew 36,430, which wasn't even a sell-out.
If you wanted a box seat, the price was now $6.50, which was up quite a bit from 1970's price of $3.50. But bleacher seats were still a bargain, only $2.00. I had the chance to go to a few games in 1980 including opening day. That's my ticket stub from the game that I attached to the scorecard.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at the starting lineup and you'll get an idea as to why this team was so bad.