Monday, June 14, 2010

#23 - Phil Cavarretta

This Bowman color card from 1953 shows Cavarretta at the Polo Grounds.

This card, from 1999, was given away by the Cubs. It is part of a series that honors the Cubs All-Century team. His more familiar #44 is shown in the upper right corner of the card.

Phil Cavarretta was a fixture with the Cubs for nearly 20 years and was a fan favorite. He was also a local boy, attending Lane Tech High School in Chicago, which is located on Addison Avenue, just a couple miles west of Wrigley Field.

Most old timers who know of Phil Cavarretta won't remember him as #23. He was much more known for #44. In fact, #44 was unofficially retired by the Cubs for a while, as no player wore #44 from the time Cavarretta left the team in 1953 until Burt Hooton was given the number in 1971.

When he came to the Cubs straight from Lane Tech in 1934, he wore #44. He switched to #23 for the 1937 and 1938 seasons. Do you want to guess in which season of his 22 year career he had his lowest batting average? That would be 1938 when he hit only .239 with #23 on his back.

He wisely dumped #23 for the 1939 season, switching to #3 for the next two years, before returning to his original #44 for the last fifteen seasons of his career.

This card from 1954 lists Cavarretta as the Cubs' manager. From 1951 - 1953 he was actually a player manager, though a part-time player. He was fired as manager after 1953 and moved across town to play two more seasons with the White Sox.

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