In Thursday's post, I talked about how the Cubs have had 18 different Opening Day third baseman during the years between Ron Santo (1961 - 1973) and Aramis Ramirez (2004 - 2010). That's 18 different guys over a 30 year period, which averages to less than two opening days per player. That is quite a revolving door at third.
Today I'll take a closer look at each of the 18 guys who played between Santo and Ramirez. I tried to pick cards that showed the player in the field, if possible.
1974 - 1976: Bill Madlock. When he came to the team in the Fergie Jenkins trade, it looked like the Cubs would be set at third for another long spell. He hit over .300 each of his seasons with the Cubs, including consecutive batting titles in '75 and '76. But he wanted a big, multiyear contract, and old-time owner P.K. Wrigley didn't want to do that. Instead, Madlock was traded to the Giants. The Cubs got Bobby Murcer in return and Wrigley gave him a bigger contract than what Madlock was seeking. Whispers of racism followed that deal.
1977 - 1980: Steve Ontiveros. Ontiveros came to the Cubs from the Giants in the Murcer trade. He was a body filling a spot. He wasn't flashy with the bat or the glove, but he could fill a spot in the line-up. His four year streak would be the longest at third until Aramis Ramirez arrived. The fact that he is featured on a Kelloggs card tells you how bad the Cubs were. Kelloggs usually featured just one or two of the best players from each team; and this is the best they could come up with-Steve Ontiveros.
1981: Ken Reitz: The Cubs picked him up in the Bruce Sutter trade with the Cardinals, but he was a total bust and lasted one season.
1982: Ryne Sandberg: This was Ryno's first season with the Cubs and he spent most of it at third base, not switching over to second until the last month of the season.
1983 - 1985: Ron Cey. The Penguin was the fourth in four years, but would stabilize things for the next three. He was in the sunset of his career, but still had a little pop left in his bat.
1986: Manny Trillo: In his second go around with the Cubs, he was now a utility player, getting the Opening Day nod, I would guess, because Ron Cey was injured.
1987: Keith Moreland: Cey was gone and Moreland was moved to third, a position he played earlier in his career.
1988 - 1989 Vance Law: Another serviceable, but unspectacular player who lasted two seasons.
1990 Luis Salazar: Utility guy turned starter, see Manny Trillo
1991 - 1992 Gary Scott: This highly touted prospect was supposed to be the long-term answer to the Cubs problems at third. He wasn't; instead, he flopped.
1993 - 1995 Steve Buechele: The Cubs picked him up when it was obvious that Gary Scott wasn't going to work out.
1996 Jose Hernandez: This experiment lasted only one season. By the end of the year, Hernandez was the starting shortstop.
1997 - 1998 Kevin Orie: He was Gary Scott II
1999: Gary Gaetti: How low have you sunk when the fourth starter in five years is 40 years old.
2000 Shane Andrews: He makes five in six years, and lasted barely half a season.
2001: Bill Mueller: And the revolving door continues....He played in only 70 games, missing two months in the middle of the season with a broken kneecap.
2002: Chris Stynes: The Cubs picked him up as a free agent (notice the Red Sox uniform he wearing on the card) and he hit .241 in his one and only season with the Cubs.
2003: Mark Bellhorn: He was a free-agent pickup for the 2002 season and smacked 27 homers, playing mostly at second base. He was moved to third for 2003, but slumped badly, hitting only .209 before being traded to the Rockies in June.
2004 - present: Aramis Ramirez! The Cubs had eight starter in the nine previous seasons before Ramirez started his streak in 2004. Finally, some consistency! Sadly, it looks like his streak will be over, unless he can get himself turned around soon.