Back in the day, double headers were scheduled for holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day. And these were day time affairs, with two games for the price of one. Its a tradition that is long past. I wondered how long its been since the last Cubs Labor Day double header, so I checked my Cubs schedules.
The last time the Cubs played two on Labor Day was in 1972. They was on the road against the Mets at Shea. The Cubs were in their seventh week with new skipper Whitey Lockman, who took over on July 24 following the firing of Leo Durocher. The team was playing better, posting a 23-15 record. But it was too little, too late. Entering play on Labor Day, 1972, September 4, they were in second place, 12 games back of the Pirates. The Mets were in third place, two games back of the Cubs. The two teams would be playing for second place.
So how did the double header turn out?
Fergie Jenkins shut out the Mets in the first game 2-0. Home runs by Carmen Fanzone and Ron Santo were the only offense, as Jon Matlack pitched nearly as well as Fergie. The Cubs ace went the distance and struck out four as he picked up his 19th win of the season.
The Cubs failed to sweep, as the Mets took the nightcap 7-2. Veteran starter Juan Pizarro took the mound for the Cubs and he kept game was close through six, with the Mets clinging to a slim 2-1 lead. But Cubs reliever Jack Aker imploded in the 7th, giving up four, and the Mets tacked on another in the 8th. Gary Gentry went 8 for the Mets and Tug McGraw picked up a save. The save rule was different in 1972, and McGraw only needed to hold the lead to get a save. Under today's rules he wouldn't have earned one, since the tying run was never in the on deck circle.
When all was said and done, neither team put any distance between one another, and because the Pirates swept a double header against the Phillies, both teams dropped a game in the standings.