Normally baseball trivia is consumed by the average fan in a question-answer format. Today, we are going to try something different. I’ll name a player from Cubs history, present a little background of that player, then finally reveal why the player is relevant in terms of 2018 Cubs trivia. Let’s get started.
Savage was the 1961 International League MVP for the Buffalo Bisons. After a promising rookie season with the Phillies, he was traded to the Pirates and ended up bouncing around the league for several seasons. In all, the outfielder played nine Major League seasons with eight different teams. His finest season was 1970 when he played for the Brewers in their first season in Milwaukee (they had been the Seattle Pilots in 1969), hitting .279/.402/.482 with 12 HR & 10 SB.
In 1967 Savage was purchased by the Cubs from the Cardinals. He appeared in 96 games for Chicago, and he stole seven bases. Three times he stole second. Twice he stole third. Twice he stole home. And no Cub would again steal home twice in a season… until Javier Báez in 2018.
Fred Pfeffer hit one home run in 85 games in 1882 as a rookie for the Troy Trojans. He hit one home run the following season in 96 games for the Chicago White Stockings (the team we know today as the Cubs). He hit 25 home runs in 1884. This wasn’t really an incredible power surge, since the fences at Chicago’s Lake Front Park were about 180 feet away and prior to that season anything over the fence was a ground rule double. Three of his teammates also hit at least 20 homers. They ended up moving to a new park the next season. But still, Pfeffer was the second baseman of the dominant Chicago teams of the 1880s.
Back to that 1884 season. Pfeffer not only hit 25 home runs that season, he also knocked in 101. And he even made an appearance on the mound. Does that sound familiar? It should. Because Anthony Rizzo also hit 25 home runs with 101 RBI and a pitching appearances this past season. Rizzo and Pfeffer are the only players in franchise history to do that. Of course Rizzo had a higher degree of difficulty.
A switch-hitting outfielder, Burton played for the Cardinals for eight games in 1958 and 29 games in 1960. After some more time in the minors, he resurfaced with the Indians in 1963 and was purchased that May by the Cubs. August 1963 was easily the most eventful month of his Major League career. On the first of that month, he homered from each side of the plate – the second Cub ever to do that; the other was Augie Galan on June 25, 1937. On the final day of August he had perhaps his finest moment. The Cubs trailed Houston 5-1 entering the bottom of the 9th inning. It was 5-2 with two outs after a pair of flyouts, three singles and a walk. Burton stepped to the plate to face Hal Woodeshick (who replaced Hal Brown – unlikely we’ll ever see a two-Hal inning again), and hit an ultimate grand slam – a walkoff grand slam with the team down three runs.
It was a feat which wouldn’t be duplicated by a Cubs batter until David Bote turned a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 win with one swing of the bat on August 12 against the Nationals.