Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fergie and the Cubs, The Early Years

After I wrote yesterday's post, I thought I might as well chronicle the entire career of Fergie Jenkins. Fergie's career can be divided into three parts: The Early Cubs Years, Fergie in Exile, and Fergie Returns. Today we take a look at the early years.

As a kid, I never was able to get any of these cards. Cubs were tough to get and I don't even think any of my school friends got a Jenkins card either. So as an adult, it was nice to finally get a look at them. The only problem I have is that they all show Fergie in the road uniform. And even worse, five were taken at Shea.

1966: I don't have a Cubs card of Jenkins from 1966 since he was in the Phillies rookie card. This picture is from the 1966 Cubs Roster Book. Fergie spent most of the season working out of the bullpen as a middle relief guy. In August he was moved to the starting rotation and that is where he stayed for the rest of his career.
6-8, 3.32, 12 games started, 2 complete games

1967: Fergie quickly became the ace of the staff as the Cubs went from last place in 1966 to third place in 1967. He made the All Star team for the first time and finished second in the Cy Young balloting. He also began a streak of six consecutive 20 win seasons.
20-13, 2.80, 38 games started, 20 complete games (which led the league)

1968: This card's picture, like the 1967 card, was taken at Shea. I wonder if it is from the same photo shoot as the '67? Fergie again was the Cubs ace and his 1968 numbers were very similar to what he put up in 1967.
20-15, 2.63, 40 games started, 20 complete games

1969: The palm tree in his left armpit tells me this is a spring training shot. Fergie led the team again with 21 wins. But like most of the team, he faltered in September. The Cubs really needed their ace, but he wasn't up to the task. He lost three straight starts in early September as the Cubs lost their division lead to the charging Mets.
21-15, 3.21, 42 games started, 23 complete games

1970: I know this card was from 1969 because of the centennial patch. And I can tell this is Shea Stadium because of the distinctive twin light towers over his shoulder. Again his stats mirror the previous couple seasons. He was like a pitching machine during this era.
22-16, 3.39, 39 games started, 24 complete games

1971: This would be his peak season with the Cubs, as he led the NL in wins and won the Cy Young Award. He also made the All Star team, for the second time in his career. Can you imaging that...he was a 20 game winner in 1968, 1969, and 1970 but didn't make the All Star team.
24-13, 2.77, 39 games started, 30 complete games (that is not a typo...he had 30 complete games!)

1972: It's back to spring training with his Topps card, and Fergie must have spent too much time on the rubber chicken circuit during the off-season. The plastic jacket and long sleeves will help him shed those extra pounds. Though 1972 was Kelloggs third year of issuing cards, it was the first time that Jenkins made the set.

This season would be his sixth and final 20 win season for the Cubs. He won his 20th game on September 8th and then lost his next two starts. He didn't pitch after September 19; I'm assuming he was injured. I wonder if pitching an average of 305 innings over the past six seasons was taking a toll on him?
20-12, 3.20, 36 games started, 23 complete games

1973: The Topps card features a Shea picture from 1972; the uniform was that style for only 1972. Fergie finally broke down in 1973 as he failed to win 20 games for the first time since 1966. And winning the Cy Young Award kept him in the Kelloggs set.

His subpar performance led to talk of a bad arm and the fans and Fergie were showing some frustration. If boiled over on August 14. Jenkins lasted on 4 1/3 innings against the Braves, giving up five runs. He was booed by the fans on his way back to the dugout and when he got to the bench, he grabbed some bats and threw them onto the field. That was the beginning of the end of his time in Chicago.
14-16, 3.89, 38 games started, only 7 complete games

1973 was the last hurrah for the Cubs of 1969. During the off season, Santo, Hundley, Beckert, and Fergie were all dealt away. But what a run Fergie had.

His stats from his first stint with the Cubs:
147-108, 3.13, 284 games started, only 149 complete games

1 comment:

  1. Great post, I'm looking forward to the next two. Fergie is one of my favorite players of all time. I had the pleasure of meeting Fergie at the All Star FanFest in July.