My new friend, blogger and fellow Cub fan, Paul, Wrigley Wax has inspired me to look at my Chicago Cub team photo cards. I like these too and he has presented a very interesting “floating head” commentary. If you have not already, I encourage you to visit his blog.
First, the 1963 Cubs had a winning record, their first over .500 mark since 1946, fighting hard to an 82 – 80 record. The prior year, 1962, the Cubs managed only 59 wins – now that is a one year turn-around of 23 games and in today’s standards would still be remarkable. (Even though the Tampa Bay Rays improved by 31 games from 2007 to 2008 in the “year of the Rays”)
Second, attendance at Wrigley was the most since 1952 with over 979,551 entering the gates. Interesting to note is that the 1927 season was the first year over 1 million Cub fans attended and not until 1984 division championship year did they exceed 2 million, and just 20 years later in 2004 the Cubs hit that elusive 3 million attendance mark.
Ron Santo led the team in all the major offensive statistics; batting average, .297, RBI’s 99, hits 187 and tied for the team lead in HR’s with Billy Williams clubbing 25 a piece. Santo played in all 162 games that season (for the second straight year) and Williams only missed one game. Ernie Banks only played in 130 and had an injury plagued sub-par year.
As for pitching, Dick Ellsworth led the team with a 22-10 record, 290 innings pitched, 19 complete games and 185 strikeouts. All were career bests for Ellsworth.
And finally, 1963 was the first year that P.K. Wrigley had one “head coach”. Yes that is what he called Bob Kenendy, “head coach”. The three years prior, Wrigley instituted what he deemed a “group of coaches” and not being happy with the results. Wrigley’s thought was the owner was the “boss” and the manager was “just a worker” and a part of the puzzle. It was not until the hiring of Leo Durocher in 1966, who demanded to be called manager, that Wrigley agreed to use the term “manager”.
So, I salute the 1963 Cubs; Santo, Williams and Ellsworth and the entire team, certainly not the best but one of the most improved and worthy of mention, even though it was 46 years ago and I was only 3 years old.
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