Three years ago today, Kris Bryant had a game at Great American Ball Park that looked like he was taking Great American Batting Practice. He was the first player in MLB history with a full house of home runs over doubles – that is, three home runs, two doubles - in a game. He was the second player in Cubs history (after George Gore in 1885!) with five extra-base hits in a game. It was indeed the Kris Bryant Game™
Which got me to thinking – what are the definitive [player name here] games in Cubs history?
Obviously, we just passed the 35th anniversary of the Sandberg Game™ . If you want to know anything about that game, please check out our Cubs Talk Podcast & other Sandberg Game content, it’s great.
How about the Schwarber Game™ on July 21, 2015 at Cincinnati? He went 4 for 7 with 2 home runs – a game-tying 2-run shot in the 9th inning, then a go-ahead solo shot in the 13th. Oh yeah, it was only his ELEVENTH career Major League game!
Then there’s the John Baker Game™ on July 29, 2014 at Wrigley Field against the Rockies. Baker came in to pitch the 16th inning of a 3-3 tie, pitched a scoreless inning – his first career mound appearance – then scored the game-winning run on a walkoff sacrifice fly.
Our Danny Rockett of Outside the Ivy even designed a hat for the occasion
Which do you like better? Royal or Navy? pic.twitter.com/yYyeKONghY— Danny Rockett (@SonRanto) June 25, 2019
Who could forget the David Bote Game™ on August 12, 2018 where he hit a pinch-hit grand slam to erase a 3-0 deficit on a Sunday night against the Nationals?
And while nobody really calls it the Kerry Wood Game™“ there’s no mistaking which game we’re talking about. Generally, we don’t assign a Game™ for pitchers since they’re already the focus of the game anyway.
But what else?
I’m going to nominate six of them here.
The Barry Foote Game™
On April 22, 1980, Cubs backstop Barry Foote had an RBI single in the 2nd inning. And a 2-run double in the 3rd. And a game-tying home run in the 8th. And a walkoff grand slam in the 9th. Altogether, he was 4 for 6 with 8 RBI. And unlike the Sandberg Game™, Bruce Sutter got the win in this one. Bonus note: this is the last time the Cubs had both a leadoff home run (by Ivan De Jesus) and walkoff home run (Foote) in the same game.
The Andre Dawson Game™
1987 was a dismal season for the Cubs, finishing in last place, but Andre Dawson improbably slugged his way to a National MVP award with 49 home runs. Three of those home runs came August 1 at Wrigley Field against the Phillies. The Cubs scored five runs. All five knocked in by Dawson. Three-run HR in the 3rd, solo shots in the 5th and 7th. A signature game in Dawson's signature season.
The Thad Bosley Game™
Thad Bosley has released several R&B/Soul albums, including “No Greater Love” and “Who Can Change the World?” but in 1985 he was an outfielder for the Cubs, often called upon for pinch hitting duties. He hit .328/.391/.511 that year, including .333 (20-60) as a pinch hitter. One of those pinch hit appearances was on August 12 against the Expos. In the 6th inning, Bosley hit for pitcher Warren Brusstar and hit a game-tying 3-run homer. He then remained in the game in left field. Bosley came to the plate next in the 8th inning with the Cubs down 7-6 and a runner on base against Montreal closer Jeff Reardon. Since Bosley is on this list, it should come as no surprise that he hit a 2-run homer and finished the game 2-2 with 2 home runs & 5 RBI. Not bad given that he didn't enter the game until the 6th inning. The Cubs won 8-7.
The George Mitterwald Game™
George Mitterwald had big shoes to fill. He was acquired from the Twins at the cost of fan favorite Randy Hundley (who caught 160 games in 1968!). In only his fifth game in Chicago, Mitterwald really made an impression against the Pirates. The Cubs fell behind 3-0 in the first, but roared back with a Billy Williams RBI single and a grand slam by George Mitterwald – the first 1st inning grand slam by a Cub since Randy Hundley two years prior. He added a 2-run homer in the third inning, a bases loaded walk in the 4th, a solo homer in the 6th and a double in the 8th before being lifted for a pinch runner. In all, he was 4 for 4 with a bases loaded walk, a double, 3 HR and 8 RBI. That was April 17. He had only 20 more RBI the rest of the season.
The Sammy Sosa Game?
Sammy Sosa had the Sammy Sosa Month™. June 1998. 27 games, 20 HR, .842 SLG. No need to include him here. Moving on…
The Dave Kingman Game™
Perhaps the second most famous product of Prospect High School in Mount Prospect (after Luke Stuckmeyer), the 6'6" slugger nicknamed “Kong” arrived in Chicago in 1978 and had his signature game at Dodger Stadium on May 14. Kingman went 4 for 7 with a walk, 3 home runs and 8 RBI, blasting a 3-run go-ahead home run in the top of the 15th to give the Cubs a 10-7 victory. There would’ve been no 15th inning had Kingman not hit a game-tying 2-run home run in the 9th inning. He hit his first home run of the game in the 6th inning. It was a rare 3-HR game where all three longballs were hit in the 6th inning or later. No Cub would do that again until Kris Bryant earlier this season.
The Willson Contreras Game™
Sure, he had a memorable moment the other day with Tyler Flowers and all, but if we were to nail down one trademark game, I would choose May 11, 2018. Crosstown showdown at Wrigley Field, and all Willson Contreras did was hit four extra-base hits off four different pitchers. Forget about the cycle, Contreras had a pair of homers and a pair of doubles, which I may add is quite a bit more rare than the cycle (you can look it up). The damage included a 1st inning grand slam, 4thinning double, 6th inning home run and 7th inning bases loaded double in an 11-2 rout over the White Sox.
There are many more of these throughout Cubs history. Which other Cubs signature games are out there? Send them our way! I’ll follow up with some of the best entries I receive.
I look forward to adding to the library of Cubs Games™