Friday, May 24, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Speaking of storied franchises, how about the Atlanta Braves? This hat was one of the first ones I picked up in the 2012 Stars and Stripes series at Just Sports (@JustSportsPDX) when I worked there this last holiday season. In fact, when I picked it up it was part of a two for $22 deal we ran on them for a weekend. A deal like that, you know I wasn’t just going to pass it up.
The Braves franchise has been in existence since 1870 when they resided in Boston and went through a series of name changes from then until 1912 when they landed on the Braves until 1935. But, they changed the names briefly again in 1936 to the Bees before changing it back to the Braves at the start of the 1941 season. At the end of the 1952 season the Braves moved to Milwaukee until 1965 before finally setting up shop in Atlanta where they still reside today. With 144 years to work with, I found a few solid names which I’ll go into detail about below.
For the last few years the Braves have been teaming up with Emory University in Atlanta for BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative, which provides veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan access to mental health and counseling services. The Braves have been one of the few teams to be at the forefront of support and personal involvement with the men and women who serve in the armed forces by doing additional relief work overseas and within the community by visiting VA hospitals, hosting parties and providing tickets to active and retired members of the military.
Since 1971 I didn’t really find any patterns on Memorial Day, but I did come across a few things that I think are interesting. Over that timeframe the Braves have gone 23-18 while only missing one date in 1985 due to traveling. In 1976 the Braves lost to the San Diego Padres; however, the bit of note I found a bit peculiar is that the Braves played a doubleheader the day before… and another one the previous week… and two more the previous week… and another the week before that… and one more the week before that. That’s right; the Braves played five doubleheaders in the month of May including a final one right before Memorial Day. I can only imagine the players from that team were a bit spent. Other than that, their best streak came from 1993-2002 when they won 10 straight games on Memorial Day, four of which came against the Chicago Cubs consecutively from 1994-1998. The Braves have gone 5-1 against the Cubs on Memorial Day, followed closely by the Montreal Expos at 3-1. A little tidbit about the Expos is that they beat the Braves on their first Memorial Day meeting in 1990 and lost the next three in 2001, 2002 and 2004, but won in 2005 when they relocated and changed their name to the Washington Nationals.
Spahn’s 9th Armored Division, which preceded much larger groups of Allied troops, was charged with repairing roads and bridges. Spahn fought in the snowy, frozen Battle of the Bulge, getting nicked by bullets on the abdomen and back of the head. Crossing France and Belgium, his division arrived at the Rhine River and the Ludendorff railroad bridge at Remagen on March 7, 1945. While retreating, the Nazis had destroyed every intact bridge but the one at Remagen. The demolitions were in place, but for some reason they had never pushed the plunger. The bridge’s defense was crucial to the Allies for delivering men, vehicles and equipment to the German heartland. On March 9, Sergeant Spahn and the 276th were ordered to the bridge to remove the demolitions, repair the bridge, maintain it, and construct a second span for two-way traffic. Working furiously to maintain the girders, Spahn and Co. were bombarded by V-2 rockets while troops, tanks, and trucks crossed above them. A biographer, Al Silverman, later described the scene:
While the bridge vibrated and twanged like banjo strings, swaying precariously as marching infantrymen tramped across each catwalk, and tanks rumbled across the planked railbed, the units patched holes, bolstered the bridge with heavy supports, repaired damaged flooring and cratered approaches.”
Ten days after the first successful crossing, Spahn received an assignment at a meeting over the center of the bridge and walked off to explain to his platoon that they’d be taking over the bridge’s security at 4 p.m. At 3:56 a platoon member shouted, “Look at the back! The bridge is falling down!” Possibly overloaded, certainly bombarded, the span slipped into the river, leaving 28 soldiers dead, 93 injured, and Sergeant Spahn with shrapnel in his left foot. Having crossed the Rhine, however, the Americans were able to protect a second bridge and other smaller pontoon bridges they built. Surgeons removed Spahn’s shrapnel. On June 1, 1945, he was the only ballplayer given a battlefield promotion, from staff sergeant to second lieutenant. In all, he earned a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a battlefield promotion, and a Presidential citation. That made him the most decorated ballplayer in World War II. (Like Spahn, Hoyt Wilhelm earned a Purple Heart, but Spahn alone received the Bronze Star.)
Aged rapidly by his battle experiences into a partially bald and fully-grown veteran, Spahn also built up stamina, concentration, and discipline during this period. “After what I went through overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work,” he insisted. “You get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy-threatened territory. The Army taught me what’s important and what isn’t.”
Typically, Spahn found humor in the grimmest of situations. Because German spies would wear American uniforms, he said, “Anybody we didn’t know, we’d ask, ‘Who plays second for the Bums?’ If he didn’t answer ‘Eddie Stanky,’ he was dead.” Spahn had no use for being labeled a hero. “The guys who died over there were heroes,” he told his son, Greg. Nor did Spahn cotton to the view of baseball historians who estimated that he lost 30 or 40 wins to service time. “I matured a lot in those [war] years,” he said. “If I had not had that maturity, I wouldn’t have pitched until I was 45.” (A statement like that says much about character. By contrast, the querulous Bob Feller says that if it weren’t for his wartime service, “I’d have won more games than Warren Spahn.”)
Unaware that the war would end just two months later after the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, Spahn accepted the battlefield promotion, which forced him to remain in the service until the next May and miss the start of the ’46 baseball season. Instead, he became the hottest pitcher in Germany that spring; working for the 115th Engineers Group, he allowed one run and struck out 73 batters in four games. And when he returned stateside, the Braves immediately promoted him to the majors, on June 10, 1946. “This is the first time in years I’ve reported to anybody without saluting,” he told new Boston manager Billy Southworth. - Jim Kaplan, SABR
Spahn played for 21 years in the Major Leagues, 20 of which came with the Braves while they were in Boston and Milwaukee. Following the 1964 season, after 25 years with the franchise, Spahn was sold by the Braves to the New York Mets. Braves manager Bobby Bragan predicted, "Spahnie won't win six games with the Mets." Spahn took on the dual role of pitcher and pitching coach. Spahn won four and lost 12 at which point the Mets put Spahn on waivers. He was put on waivers on July 15, 1965 and released on July 22, 1965. He immediately signed with the San Francisco Giants, with whom he finished the season. With the Mets and Giants combined, he won seven games for the season—his last in the major leagues. His number would be retired by the Braves later that year. Shame too, he was one year away from playing in all three cities the Braves had been affiliated with.
Spahn is hands down one of the Top-three greatest left-handed pitchers in the game, but for sure the winningest. His 363 wins by a lefty isn’t even close to be matched. Throughout his career he made 14 All-Star Game appearances, led the League in strikeouts four times (1949-1952), led the League in wins eight times (1949-1950, 1953 and 1957-1961), finished 23rd or better for the National League MVP award 14 times, won the NL Cy Young award in 1957 and a World Series champion in 1957. Spahn was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 on the second ballot. No, it’s not what you think. Spahn’s first time on the ballot came in 1958 for reasons I have yet to figure out. At that time he received 0.4% of the votes; however, when elected in 1973 he received 83.2% of the vote. At the end of the 1965 season the Braves retired his number.
41- Unlike Spahn, Eddie Mathews did in fact play in all three of the cities the Braves resided. Born in Texarkana, Texas, on October 13, 1931, Mathews signed with the Boston Braves in 1949 on the night of his high school graduation in Santa Barbara, California, for $5,999. Turning down college football scholarships and more money from other big-league teams, Mathews chose to sign with the Braves after careful consideration (and advice from his father), knowing that he would soon have a job replacing the Braves' aging third baseman, Bob Elliot.
Mathews spent his first two seasons in the minors, perfecting a swing that even baseball great Ty Cobb described as "perfect." In 1950 the Korean War (1950-53) forced Mathews to leave the minors and enlist in the navy. He was soon released, however, because of his status as an only child and his father's battle with tuberculosis. Due to him being an only child he was listed as the “sole provider;” therefore, Mathews was allowed to go back to the Braves in order to make a living for he and his mother. Mathews returned late into the 1951 season and spent the rest of the season in the minors with the Atlanta Crackers (AA) and the Milwaukee Brewers (AAA). On April 15, 1952 Mathews made his MLB debut as the starting third baseman for the Braves. This would be the first of many starts for Mathews.
Mathews’ Major League career with the Braves lasted until the end of the 1966 season, their first year in Atlanta, before finishing out his last two seasons with the Houston Astros (1967) and Detroit Tigers (1967-1968). Mathews made nine All-Star Game appearances, finished in third place for the 1952 NL Rookie of the Year award (.242/25/48), finished in second place twice for the NL MVP award in 1953 and 1959 and won a World Series ring with Spahn in 1957. Mathews hit 512 home runs for his career, the second-most by a third baseman behind Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies. It took five attempts, but Mathews was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
#1- If there was ever player in MLB history who looked the most like his name it has to be Rabbit Maranville. Maranville had served in the Army during World War I; however, I’m having a very difficult time finding any other specific details on his military history.
From 1912-1920, 1929-1933 and 1935 he donned a Braves jersey in Boston. At 5’5’’, Maranville was a surprisingly great baseball player. He’s one of roughly 20 players have 10,000 or more plate appearances (11,256), not to mention he held the record for most consecutive seasons played (23) which was broken in 1986 by Pete Rose. He finished in 17th or better for the NL MVP award seven times throughout his career, the best of which was a second place finish in 1914 when he batted .246 with four home runs, 78 RBI and 28 stolen bases. His teammate Johnny Evers won with only a slightly better batting average (.276).
Maranville was known as one of "baseball's most famous clowns" due to his practical jokes and lack of inhibitions. When he was appointed manager of the Chicago Cubs in 1925—one of their worst seasons ever—he did not change his behavior. One night he went through a Pullman car dumping water on sleeping players' heads, saying, "No sleeping under Maranville management, especially at night." Not long after that, he was out on the street outside Ebbets Field in Brooklyn mimicking a newsboy hawking papers. He cried out, "Read all about it! Maranville fired!" And so he was—the next day.
Maranville was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954, along with Bill Terry and Bill Dickey, in his 14th year of eligibility. His election came just months after his death at age 62.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the most storied franchises in Major League history, and with that there also came a lot of players who temporarily hung up their cleats to enlist in the armed services to fight for their country. The franchise itself has been around since 1882; however, the Cardinals name became a staple at the start of the 1900 season. They’ve won 11 World Series titles, the most in the National League and the second-most in MLB history. The Cards also have 16 players enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the third-most by any team in MLB. But it’s the fours guys down below that truly stand out amongst the pack.
One of the more interesting things, in my opinion at least, I found during my research lies heavily on the name of the stadium in which the Cardinals reside. The current incarnation of Busch Stadium is the third baseball park to carry that name; however, the second stadium had a much more appropriate name. From 1966 through 2005 Busch II was called Busch Memorial Stadium. After World War II most newly built and opened stadiums carried the “Memorial” moniker in tribute to the men who perished in World War I and II. Obviously it’s not mandatory for teams to do this, but I find it a little odd that in these modern times of showing support for the troops it’s become a bit of a dying tribute.
This season the Cardinals are allowing fans to pay tribute to their friends, family or pretty much anybody who has served, or is currently serving in the armed forces. Fans are encouraged to send in messages to the Cardinals on the team’s Web site which will be shown during the fifth inning on the ribbon of screen that revolve around the circumference of the stadium during every home game.
Since 1971 the Cardinals have gone 21-18 on Memorial Day; they split one doubleheader against the Ney York Mets in 1978 and only missed playing on four of those days due to travel days. As far as any Memorial Day patterns outside of the protest fiasco against the Florida Marlins in 1999, the Cardinals have consistently played against three teams: Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals’ record against the Braves is a modest 3-2, their last win coming in 2012… but the first four matchups coming from 1971-1987. For the Rockies the Cardinals are 2-4 against them, which included three straight losses from 1996-1998. And last, the Astros in which the Cardinals have gone 3-4; all four losses came 1986-1990 as in ’87 they lost to the Braves.
#2- This one starts with an interesting tale of how scumbaggish the Cardinals were back in the day. Red Schoendienst made his Major League debut on April 17, 1945 and the jersey he was given in the locker room was #6. For those who aren’t savvy on the Cardinals, #6 belongs to Stan Musial. Now, Musial had been playing ball since 1940, but took one year off after being drafted into the Navy during World War II. That year, 1945. In most cases this wouldn’t be a big deal; however, Musial had all read won the National League MVP in 1943, now he was fighting for his country. No one thought there would be anything wrong with giving Schoendienst Musial’s number. Wow! With the war over and Musial back in the lineup, Schoendienst gave up #6 and switched to #2 in 1946.
Now I have to go back in bring everything up to speed, kind of like the movie Memento.
At the age of 16, Schoendienst quit school to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) where he continued to play baseball at Greenville, Illinois. While building fences with the CCC a nail hit him in the eye. He was driven to the Marine hospital in St Louis, where he pleaded with doctors not to remove the badly damaged eye. Schoendienst had limited vision in his eye when he returned to the CCC. Once the United States entered WWII the CCC was disbanded and he took a job as a supply clerk at Scott Field in Belleville, where he continued to play baseball.
In 1942, he hitchhiked to a Cardinals’ tryout camp in St Louis and signed with the team. He joined Union City in the Kitty League for $75 a month and when that league disbanded he was sent to Albany in the Georgia-Florida League. In 1943 he played at Lynchburg and got off to a great start. He was batting .472 when he was sent to Rochester of the International League where he hit .337. Despite his eye injury, Schoendienst was expecting to be called for military service. He started the 1944 season with Rochester and was batting .373 after 25 games when the call to arms came. Schoendienst reported to Camp Blanding in Florida in May 1944. “Joining the Army was not something I was real excited about,” he explained in his autobiography Red: A Baseball Life, “but I knew I didn’t have any choice. Training for the infantry, we were exposed to just about every situation you can imagine – how to wire for mines, how to blow up bridges, how to set booby traps and dig up mines.”
He was later transferred to Pine Camp, New York – a prisoner of war camp for Italian prisoners. “One of our jobs was to build ballfields so we could keep the prisoners entertained and give them something to do. We also put together a camp team. We played on weekends, traveling to some of the nearby Army bases.” During one of the Pine Camp games, Schoendienst suffered a shoulder injury. It was diagnosed as a shallow shoulder socket and would continue to pop out on occasions. A combination of the shoulder injury and eye injury led to Schoendienst’s medical discharge in January 1945. He went home to rest briefly before joining the Cardinals at the Cairo, Illinois spring training camp in 1945. The guy is pretty much indestructible.
Schoendienst’s career lasted from 1945-1963. He made 10 All-Star Game appearances and finished in the Top-five for the NL MVP twice in 1953 and 1957. He hit .289 lifetime along with 2,449 hits. In 1965 Schoendienst took the helm of the Cardinals and managed them from then until 1976, as well as two more one-year stints in 1980 and 1990. He went 1041-955 and won two NL pennants in 1967 and 1968, winning the whole enchilada in 1967. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989 by the Veteran’s Committee despite never receiving more than 42 percent of the vote from the National Baseball Writers Association of America.
#9- Another teammate of the great Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter has arguably one of the most badass names in the history of mankind. Slaughter signed with the Cardinals back in 1935 and didn’t make his MLB debut until April 19, 1938. A left-handed batter who threw with his right hand, Slaughter hit .300 for his career with 2,383 base-knocks, 148 triples, 169 home runs and 1,304 RBI in 19 seasons. Slaughter’s best season came in 1942 when he finished in second place for the NL MVP after going .318/13/98 with a league-leading 17 triples and league-leading 188 hits. The cool thing about ’42 is that Slaughter had enlisted with the Army Air Force earlier that year, but his deployment date to boot camp was postponed due to the fact that he was playing in the World Series. The 1942 World Series against the New York Yankees was the first to be broadcast live to American troops overseas. After the fourth game, Slaughter was asked to speak to the troops by radio. “Hi fellows,” he told them. “We played a great game today and we won. And we are going to finish this thing tomorrow. Then I’m going to report for duty in the Army Air Corps and join you.”
The Cardinals did indeed wrap up the World Series the following day with Slaughter contributing a home run in the fourth inning. He was then assigned to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center (SAACC) for what he hoped would be flight school. “I wanted to be a pilot,” he told author Frederick Turner, “but they said I was color blind. They wanted me to be a bombardier, but I said if I couldn’t be the one flying the plane, I’d just as soon not be flying. So, I became a physical education instructor in charge of about 200 troops.”
Slaughter was assigned to the 509th Base Headquarters Squadron at SAACC, where he led the base team in hitting with a .498 average in 75 games during 1943. On August 26, 1943, he was involved in a war bonds game that raised $800 million dollars in war bond pledges. Held at the Polo Grounds in front of 38,000 fans, the three New York teams combined as the War Bond All-Stars against an Army all-star line-up that featured Slaughter, Hank Greenberg and Sid Hudson. The War Bond All-Stars won 5 to 2.
Slaughter was based at Camp Kearns, near Salt Lake City, Utah in March 1945, and was told that if he would go with other players to the South Pacific he would be guaranteed a quick discharge when the war ended. He accepted the deal and was part of a contingent of 94 ballplayers that arrived in Hawaii in June 1945. Representing the 58th Wing, along with teammates Bobby Adams, Joe Gordon, Birdie Tebbetts and Howie Pollet, the ballplayers island-hopped towards Japan following American forces. On Tinian, the Seabees bulldozed out a ballfield on top of a coral reef and made bleacher seats out of bomb crates. Exhibition games were also staged at Saipan, Guam and Iwo Jima with an estimated 180,000 soldiers getting the chance to witness major league baseball players in action. Twenty-seven games were played on the tour and Slaughter batted .342 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. The tour concluded in October and the players returned to the United States in early November. Slaughter received his military discharge on March 1, 1946 and returned to the Cardinals to lead the National League with 130 RBI and guided the Cardinals to a World Series win over the Boston Red Sox.
Like Schoendienst, Slaughter was not voted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, but did get in based on the vote of the Veteran’s Committee in 1985.
BR- Most people know about Branch Rickey the general manager, but very few people remember that he was a player for four years and a field manager for 10 years. The majority of his managerial career came with the Cardinals from 1919-1925. He certainly wasn’t the greatest of managers, going 458-485 with the Cardinals. Rickey was replaced by Rogers Hornsby in 1926 who went on to lead the Cardinals to a World Series victory that season.
Rickey served as the Cardinals GM from 1925-1942 and had been the GM for the St. Louis Browns prior to that in 1914. What’s most interesting about this position is that it technically never existed prior to Rickey. The title he was originally serving under was business manager; however, Rickey’s innovations in the game by investing in the Minor Leagues paid off big time. See, prior to Rickey “pilfering” the Minor Leagues this was an uncommon, if not unheard of practice. In essence, Rickey’s methods pioneered the modern far system. Then commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had a huge problem with this by the time 1930s were ending as the Gashouse Gang that Rickey had assembled had been one of the most dominant teams in the game. Rickey didn’t budge. Instead, other teams started their own farm league system. A few notable signing by Rickey: George Sisler, Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial.
Rickey’s time in the military came during World War I as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army in France. He commanded a chemical training unit that included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson. Rickey served in the 1st Gas Regiment during the war, and spent over four months as a member of the Chemical Warfare Service.
#6- I don’t normally mark number on the opposite side of my hat, but it wouldn’t have felt right to leave Musial out. I’ve all ready written about him at great length on May 1st. So, I’ll leave it with that.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
This is one of the more unusual posts that I’ve put together, but not for the sake of any kind of an oddity. The Chicago Cubs are one of the oldest organizations in not only Major League Baseball, but professional sports in general. I would have thought that to some degree that there would have been a lot more guys within the history of the organization to serve their country, but to my surprise I was wrong. Over the last week or so I’ve come to the realization that it has nothing to do with the players themselves, but more the notoriety that some players have gotten for their service. I suppose a lot of this falls on most Web site I’ve pilfered through only feature Hall of Famers, but then again combing through over 100 years of rosters and comparing them to a list of possible military service is royally time consuming. So, I had to take what I could find.
One of the interesting programs that the Cubs are involved with that I was able to come across is called Me & a Friend. Me & a Friend is a joint collaboration of the USO and the Cubs to provide free tickets to youths 18-years-old and younger who have parents serving their country overseas. The Cubs have also honored discounts for active and retired military personnel who arrive to their games in uniform.
The Cubs record for Memorial Days (since 1971) is 18-22 with three games off in 1984, 1992 and 1999. In 1976 the Cubs split a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, but outside of that, nothing particularly special happened in any of their games. Sorry. I dug deep!
As I mentioned before it was a little difficult to pull names, and by that I mostly mean that I had difficulty finding a second name for someone who I haven’t written about.
GA: On the list of Hall of Fame players who served time in the military, Grover Cleveland Alexander is number one on the list. Despite starting and ending his career with the Phillies, Alexander’s eight years with the Cubs was the longest tenure of his career. Alexander (also known as Pete Alexander) was one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, and has the third-most wins in the history of Major League Baseball. Alexander was drafted during World War I and spent much of 1918 in France as a sergeant with the 342nd field artillery. Alexander certainly drank alcohol before the war, but after the war he became an extremely heavy drinker as he suffered from severe post traumatic stress and drinking was the only thing that would calm him down. While he was serving in France, he was exposed to German mustard gas and a shell exploded near him, causing partial hearing loss and triggering the onset of epilepsy. Following his return from the war, Alexander suffered from shell shock and was plagued with epileptic seizures, which only exacerbated the problems he already was experiencing with alcohol. Always a drinker, Alexander hit the bottle particularly hard as a result of the physical and emotional injuries he sustained in the war - injuries that plagued him for the rest of his life. People often misinterpreted his seizure-related problems as drunkenness. Combined with hearing loss and epileptic seizures, Alexander was not in great shape throughout the 1920s. And yet he still managed to have some dominant years for the Cubs (who had acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies right before Alexander was drafted).
"Grover Cleveland Alexander wasn't drunk out there on the mound, the way people thought. He was an epileptic. Old Pete would fall down with a seizure between innings, then go back and pitch another shutout." -Ty Cobb ("Cobb", by Al Stump)
Alexander led the League in strikeouts six times in his career; five times with the Phillies and only once with the Cubs. His best season in Chicago came in 1920 when he won 27 games with a 1.91 ERA and 173 strikeouts, all of which were league-leading. Despite winning the pitching Triple Crown he wasn’t even remotely close to winning the National League MVP. Actually, if you ever get a chance to look at his stats you’ll see that his “mediocre” years were the only times he received votes for the MVP. Even though he made it into the Hall of Fame in 1939, he still got the shaft throughout his career.
The origin of the nickname "Old Pete" is something of a mystery. It is uncertain how frequently Alexander was publicly called by that nickname during his playing days. On his 1940 Playball baseball card he was referred to as "Ol' Pete." In The World Series and Highlights of Baseball, by Lamont Buchanan, published in 1951, the year after Alexander died, on pp. 106–107 the author refers to "Pete Alexander" and "Ol' Pete" in a matter-of-fact way, suggesting the nickname was well-known. When he won his 373rd game on August 10, 1929, one newspaper had called him "old Pete", indicating that the nickname was in public circulation. (The Scrapbook History of Baseball, by Deutsch, Cohen, Johnson and Neft, Bobbs-Merrill, 1975, p. 131).
#14- I have all ready written about Ernie Banks back on April 26th, but there were a few things I didn’t touch on for his career. Banks had started his professional baseball career with the Amarillo Colts in 1948 before signing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in 1950. Banks then enlisted in the Army and served his country for two years fighting in the Korean War before coming back with the Monarchs in 1953. Later that year he signed a deal with the Cubs and made his MLB debut on September 17, becoming the first black player to ever take the field for the Cubs.