Yesterday I wrote about my first trip to Wrigley Field on July 22, 1970. I left off as the game was getting under way.
Bill Hands took the mound and the game was under way. I was a little disappointed that my favorite pitcher,
Fergie Jenkins, wasn't pitching (he pitched the day before). But I got over it; after all, I was at Wrigley Field. I wasn't watching the game on our black and white TV at home, I was seeing it live and in color!
Hands walked the Reds leadoff man Pete Rose and I thought, man, here they come, the Big Red Machine. But he got the next three batter in order, so no damage was done.
Up come the Cubs,
and its Don Kessinger to get things started. He flew out to center.
Second baseman Glenn Beckert was up next, and he singled. A wild pitch got him to second, but Billy Williams struck out.
Ron Santo was batting cleanup and he walked.
Up next was Jim Hickman, only a few weeks after his game winning, extra inning All Star game hit. He was still hot, because Jim Hickman smashed a three-run homer to left field! I was beyond words! My first game at Wrigley, and in the first inning, I see a home run and a three run lead. Wow!
Hands continued to mow down the Reds the next two innings and then the Cubs put the game away with a five run explosion in the third inning. Even Bill Hands got into the act with an RBI single. So after three, the score was 8-0 Cubs. The Big Red Machine was getting demolished by Cubbie Blue.
I remember just looking at my Sox fan dad and brothers with the biggest smile. I didn't need to say anything! The rest of the game was a blur, with one more highlight. After the Reds scored two in the top of the sixth, the Cubs answered a pair of their own, scoring on a two run blast that landed onto Sheffield Avenue. The slugger was
my all-time favorite Cub, Billy Williams! How cool was that, to see my idol hit a home run!
The score was now 10-2 and that's the way it would finish. Hands went all nine innings, raising his record to 12-7. The loser was Reds starter Jim Merritt, who fell to 15-8; so it's not like the Cubs beat up on a scrub. They tagged one of the Reds' aces.
As I looked over the box score at baseball-reference, a few things came to mind. First, I got to see two hall of famers in the game, Williams and Tony Perez. There were three others in the dugouts, Ernie Banks (injured) , Johnny Bench (just getting the day off, this was one of only four games he missed all season), and Fergie Jenkins. You've also got Pete Rose and Ron Santo, debatable Hall of Famers. And the skippers of the two clubs, Leo Durocher and Sparky Anderson, are both in Cooperstown. That's a lot of star power!
I noticed the paid attendance was 37,848. That was huge for a mid-week game, above Wrigley's 1970 capacity of 36,667. I don't remember it being that crowded. It was the third-highest attendance of the season.
After the game we had a crowded El ride back to the south side. All I remember about that ride was being thrilled beyond words that the Cubs not only won, but blew out the Reds.
I've been to a bunch of games since then, including the 23-22 loss to the Phillies in 1979, the 2007 clinching game in Cincinnati, and Ryno's last home game, but none of those can ever match the pure joy I got at Wrigley Field on July 22, 1970.