Without any further ado, let's play tribute to those Cubs who went up to play on the great baseball diamond in the sky in 2015. There were some pretty significant names over the past year. Present in order of their loss;
July 31, 1941 - January 22, 2015
With Cubs: 13 games in 1966
Don is listed here as being a part of the Seattle Pilots organization; however, he never suited up for the franchise with a fanatical cult following. Drafted by the Pilots in the old minor league draft over the winter of 1969, he was returned to the Astros after spring training and after the Pilots became the Brewers.
January 31, 1931 - January 23, 2015
With Cubs: 2,528 games from 1953-71
Mr. Cub himself really doesn't need any introduction. The physically embodiment of Chicago Cubs baseball lived a full life full of bringing joy to others. However, it was tragic to see his gradual demise over the past few years - so goes the passage of time.
July 20, 1953 - February 19, 2015
With Cubs: 378 games from 1982-85
Best known in Chicago for being an extra outfielder for the beloved 1984 NL East Champs, he passed away suddenly, on the first day of spring training, while serving the other Chicago baseball team as a scout.
August 27, 1932 - February 23, 2015
With Cubs: 231 games from 1955-56
September 29. 1935 - March 12, 2015
With Cubs: 214 games from 1957-62
Bob was a reliable and consistent member of the Cubs rotations in one of the darkest periods of franchise history. Anderson was on the mound during the infamous game in which three baseballs ended up in use during a single play in 1959.
September 14, 1927 - April 25, 2015
With Cubs: 64 games from 1954-57
Fanning is definitely much more well-known for his efforts in the establishment of the Expos franchise and the running of it's front office. However, he had a brief MLB career with the Cubs as a backup catcher in the mid-50's as well.
September 9, 1931 - May 13, 2015
With Cubs: 126 games from 1959-60
The son of a Hall-of-Famer had himself a nice, long major league career himself, carving out a niche as a backup stopper for seven seasons. He had a breakout year with the expansion Angels in their first year of existence (1961), slugging 21 homers in 117 games and batting .262 along the way, but he was never able to duplicate that success.
May 15, 1917 - May 30, 2015
With Cubs: 639 games from 1941-47
Lennie Merullo was the last surviving member of the 1945 NL Pennant winners, thus making him the only man walking the earth to have played in the World Series for the Cubbies. Thankfully, Theo was able to get Lennie back to honor him with a proper, on-field ceremony before his passing.
Also pictured, is his son "Boots," so nicknamed because his father was so nervous and emotionally drained on the day he was born that he committed four errors in a single inning. I can't say I blame him.
March 11, 1933 - August 2, 2015
With Cubs: 7 games in 1964
August 15, 1926 - September 6, 2015
With Cubs: 107 games from 1961-63
A rarity in his day, Schultz was strictly a relief pitcher, hurling in 227 games without a single start. Barney was also an early specialist in the knuckleball. He had two good seasons in Chicago, then was traded to the Cardinals where he had his best season, 1964, with 14 saves and a 1.64 ERA.
As you can see, the world of baseball and the Cubs franchise lost a lot of interesting personalities in 2015. What better time than the end of a year to take a look back and make sure that they are remembered? Time marches on and none of us are going to survive it.
But, it's time to turn over a new leaf with the start of a new calendar - here's to a wonderful 2016... and hopefully the end of my writer's block!