Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Reviewing From Decades Past: 1970 - Season Recap
The 1970 Cubs were coming off of one of the most exciting and most disappointing seasons in recent history. It was time to put the collapse of 1969 behind and look forward to finishing in 1970 what they couldn't in 1969.
Manager Leo Durocher had all of the major players from 1969 returning. The starting eight included a fist-full of All-Stars. The starting rotation included two 20 game winners. A year older and wiser, the team should have been poised to win the division. But these are the Cubs....and of course, they finished in second place again.
The team got off to a fast start, aided by an eleven game win streak in April, and by mid-June the Cubs held a five game lead over the pack. But within two weeks, the lead was gone and they were in second place. By early July they were five games back and under .500. But in late August they managed to right the ship and spent the first half of September no more than two games out of first. They just couldn't get over the hump, though, and lost seven of their last eleven games. They finished the season 84-78, in second place, five games back.
Season highlights included:
...an early season injury to catcher Randy Hundley, who only played in 73 games. The Cubs were 45-28 with him in the lineup, and 39-50 without him. Obviously, his leadership behind the plate was missed
...Ernie Banks 500th home run, on May 12, though Ernie was on his last legs (actually his last knees, as knee problems slowed him down.
...the emergence of Jim Hickman as a hitting star. It was his hit in the 1970 All-Star game that won the game; his hit and Pete Rose's wipe-out of catcher Ray Fosse.
...a trade that brought Joe Pepitone to the Cubs. Pepi brought some life to the team (and to the bars on Rush Street).
...Fergie Jenkins' fourth straight 20 win season.
If you wanted a box seat in 1970 it would set you back $3.50. This was up only one dollar from the 1960 price of $2.50. Bleacher seats, all unreserved, went for $1.00, an increase of 25¢ over the 1960 price.
Attendance at Wrigley was down slightly from the team record set in 1969, as they drew 1,642,705, 4th best in the league. I was among that number, going to my first Cubs game ever in 1970. I saw them smash the Big Red Machine 10-2 on July 22.
On deck tomorrow, the position players.