Greatest Moments: No. 24, Victory Blows the Cubs' Way

By Chris Rewers on Saturday, January 1, 2011

(Editor's Note: Seventh in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)

During the summer of 1977, I was 7 years old and without a care in the world. It seemed like it lasted for years. Our family had a swimming pool installed in our backyard, I was completing my first year of T-ball with the Sluggers of the Wrightwood Baseball Association , and my parents took me to see Star Wars. Activities included managing my growing baseball card collection and clipping and pasting the scrapbook pictures of Cubs players that the Tribune provided that summer. Those were the days!


Bill Buckner atoned for a costly error with a game-tying two-run double in the ninth inning as the first-place Cubs tallied four runs in their last at-bat to rally for a 5-4 victory over the New York Mets on June 25, 1977.

It was also the summer that I fell head over heels in love with the Cubs - without any reservations. I would learn the hard way that rooting for the North Siders was no picnic.

The Cubs were riding high - with a 43-22 record, seven games in front of second-place Pittsburgh in the NL East - on June 25, 1977 when they hosted the New York Mets on "A Day of Fame" at Wrigley Field. A pregame, three-inning exhibition was billed as the "first old-timers' game played within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field."

A Cubs old-timers team that included Ron Santo, Andy Pafko, Walt "Moose"Moryn, Dick Ellsworth, Don Elston, Moe Drabowsky, Bill Hands, and Phil Regan opposed a team of Hall of Famers who included Ernie Banks, Billy Herman, Fred Lindstrom, and Lou Boudreau.

Banks, six weeks before his induction into the Cooperstown shrine, received the loudest ovations whenever he was introduced. The Cubs old-timers claimed a 5-1 victory but to a 7-year-old watching on TV, it was a very odd event. A bunch of unfamiliar fat, old guys seemed to be masquerading as major leaguers - and what was up with the 59-year-old Boudreau playing shortstop while wearing an antique Cleveland Indians uniform?

But Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse was loving it, laughing throughout the contest. And it attracted a huge crowd of 33,130 to the ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

The main event, with Cubs right-hander Ray Burris opposing New York righty Pat Zachry, appeared on the verge of dampening the mood. Ed Kranepool hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Mets an early lead and a Bill Buckner error in the eighth gave New York an unearned run in the eighth to put them ahead 4-1.

With reliever Skip Lockwood gunning for his 11th save of the season, Steve Swisher opened the bottom of the ninth with a single to left and the slow-footed Cubs catcher reached third on a one-out double by Ivan DeJesus. Larry Biittner doubled down the right-field line to score both runners. The Friendly Confines were up for grabs as New York manager Joe Torre relieved Lockwood with Bob Apodaca. The Cubs trailed 4-3 and had the tying run on second with one out.

Buckner lifted a fly ball to deep left-center.

"When I hit it, I thought it might reach the wall," Buckner remembered. "Then the wind took it in, and I saw both outfielders coming together, and I could only hope that they'd get mixed up."

As center fielder Lee Mazzilli and left fielder Steve Henderson, with a combined 10 days of major league experience, converged on the ball, they had to deal with the stiff breeze and the left-field bleacher fans who were shouting, "I got it!"

Those fans included Banks who was sitting with Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic.

Mazzilli and Henderson collided as the ball dropped for a game-tying double. Mick Kelleher pinch ran for Buckner and moved up to third after walks to Bobby Murcer and Jerry Morales. Manny Trillo smashed a grounder to New York third baseman Doug Flynn, who stepped on third to force Murcer. But his throw to first was not in time to retire Trillo and Kelleher crossed the plate with the winning run as the Cubs claimed a dramatic 5-4 victory.

Leave a comment

Powered by Ajax Comments

Sincerely, JCB

I founded Agony & Ivy about five years ago for two reasons. First...


A&I Poll



Roster Schedule Standings Stats Tickets