Sunday, June 21, 2015

Like Father, Like Son

A happy Father's Day to all!

In the long and (sometimes) illustrious history of the Chicago Cubs, several sons have followed in their father's bear tracks to play on the North Side.  So, in honor of this day to honor our dear ol' dads, let's take a look at these various pairs, starting with the ones for which I have cards of both:

*Update* So, even though Wrigley Wax already did a very similar post this morning, I already had this half drafted; so, I'm just going to go ahead and finish it.  Sorry for the repitition!

Bobby had a nice, long 14-season trip through the Major Leagues, spending the bulk of his time as the starting second baseman in Cincy.  Towards the end though, he came to fill a utility role with the Cubs; a gig which he parlayed into coaching career with the club after his retirement in 1959.

Meanwhile, the younger Adams' career wasn't very noteworthy; he spent his entire career as a backup outfielder on some pretty "meh" teams, including the Cubs from 1976-77.  His slash line in Chicago was an anemic .129/.325/.194.

An American League pitcher with a bat; always a rare treat on cardboard.

Joe was a successful bullpen pitcher for hire throughout the 70's; however, he had to overcome a skull-fracture caused by a comebacker in 1971.  The problem wasn't just physical, it was psychological too; after returning, he would recoil after every pitch in fear.  How did he get over it?  "I went to see a Catholic priest who doubles as a hypnotist. He put me under seven times in four days. After that, I didn't have any fear of getting hit, and my control was better."

After the juju, Joe went on to pitch through the '79 season, going out as a member of the "We Are Family" Pirates.

Maybe we should have sent Casey to the same priest; maybe that would have fixed the massive control problems that kept him from seizing his opportunity to take a spot in the Cubs' rotation in the early part of this decade.

One of these two is a treasured legend in franchise history who still serves as a sort of goodwill ambassador for the Cubs with his Fantasy Camp in AZ.  All of this after a iron-man career as a backstop for the consistently competitive teams of the 60's, including the beloved '69 Cubs.

The other is grateful that Milton Bradley was such a royal pain in the ass; otherwise, his name would go down in team history as the worst free agent signing instead of the psychopathic Bradley.

Can you guess which one?

Marty played the outfield and Matt was a moundsman.  Both eventually found their way to Chicago at or near the very end of their journeyman careers.  Like father, like son.

Marty played for 6 teams in 11 years from 1956-66, peacing out by hitting .231 in 33 games as an extra outfielder/pinch hitter for Chicago.

Matt was an A from 1977-83, including an All-Star campaign in 1978.  But, by 1982, he was leading the league in losses with 18 and was soon traded away.  He spent the next four years with four  different teams, including 19 bullpen appearances with a 4.97 ERA in his last season (1986).

The Sarge was a part of Dallas Green's massive overhaul of the roster going into the 1984 season, coming to Chicago in the Bob Dernier trade, and immediately became both a key bat in the lineup and a fan favorite as well.  Already well into his career, Gary was in decline by the time this 1987 Topps card was released and was out of the big leagues by the end of the year.

His son was toolsy outfield prospect who just never could put it all together for the Cubs in 2000-01.  It wasn't until several years after they jettisoned him that he went from roster filler to All-Star for the Rangers and landed one of the most infamously bad contracts in recent years with Texas.

Gary Jr.'s card came from a garage sale that the Cubs put on at Wrigley the last time that they remodeled the bleachers in 2006 (the same year Matthews exploded).  It was part of a complete set that seems to have been put out by the team in 2000 with sponsorship from Sears.  I've never seen these anywhere else and don't know anything else about them.

I really like the backs of these; a nice simple layout with some detailed bio info and even the player's numbers.  The full set sits somewhere in one of my binders; does anyone know anything more about this oddball set?  Maybe it wasn't ever actually put out?

To me, Chris Speier is a boozing, old third base coach that served under Dusty Baker's coaching staff in the mid-00's.  But, of course, he had a nice long career, first as a starting shortstop and then as a utility infielder 20-30 years before.  Two of those years were with the Cubs from 1986-87, but he'll still always be that shadow of his former self to me.

His son Justin came up with the NL Wild Card winning team of 1998; but, he was sent packing (in one of many short-sighted Cubs trades of the era) to Florida for supposed bullpen reinforcement Felix Heredia.  Justin went on to become an actual reliable reliever for the next decade while Felix began a slow and steady demise.

That tale is far too common in Cubs history.  Thank God for Theo!

...And now, for those father-son duos that I only have one card of, I've simulated one using the phenomenal Rookies smart phone app:

FOr the longest time, I thought these two guys were the same person.  Same name, same position, but slightly different era.

Father Cooney played for the then-Chicago Colts from 1890-92 as their regular shortstop.  That was the extent of his Big League time, excepting a brief six game stint with the original Washington Senators the next year.  I don't know much else about the dude, other than he died just ten years later.

His son had a couple cups of coffee in 1917 & 1919 and then from 1924-28 he saw regular action.  Just like his dad, he started at short in Chicago for a year and half in 1926-27.

Mini Cooney's card comes from a set of playing cards released under Jack Brickhouse's name in 1985.  It seems to be the only baseball card that either Cooney has ever gotten; thus, I had no choice but to split up the deck.

Good thing I don't really play cards.

The Macko story is a tragic one in baseball history.  Joe was a minor league lifer who spent some time with the Cubs organization, eventually being added to the club's big league coaching staff during the comical College of Coaches era.  But, he never did see time as "Head Coach."

Joe's career extended into the 21st century, working in various capacities for the Texas Rangers.

His son Steve was a top prospect in the Cubs organization. In 1980, Macko's promising career stalled after he incurred a bad bruise in a collision with Bill Madlock. From there, doctors discovered he had testicular cancer and Macko died of the disease in November of 1981.

Such a bright career and an all around good guy extinguished far too early.


There ya have it; all of the Cubs' father-son combinations throughout history.

A happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!  I have a bbq to attend to with my dear ol' dad; so, I'll catch you all on the flip side.


  1. "His son was toolsy outfield prospect who just never could put it all together....."

    Man, you nailed it with that line about GM, Jr. He had all the talent, and could never really find it except for a couple years, and then poof.

  2. The Cubs sure did love ode kind of guys for a while: Gary Jr., Corey Patterson, Felix Pie... Eek