1981 Chicago Cubs
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1981 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
Record: 38-65, Finished 6th in NL Eastern Division (1981 NL)
Managed by Joey Amalfitano
Coaches: Gene Clines, Jack Hiatt, Peanuts Lowrey, Les Moss, Cookie Rojas and Billy Williams
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1981 Chicago Cubs became the nationwide butt of jokes, especially during the first part of the season. In the strike-torn season, the Cubs played the first half with a record of 15-37. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson made regular jokes at their expense. The team improved somewhat in the second half of the season, going 23-28.
Still, the Cubs were pretty bad. The team batting average was .236, while the National League hit .255 as a whole. The team slugged almost 25 points below the league slugging percentage, in spite of playing in the homer-friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Bobby Bonds, hustling but hitting only .215, finished out his major league playing days with the Cubs that year.
The pitching staff finished second-to-last in ERA, and tied for last for the fewest saves. No pitcher won 10 games, and only Mike Krukow, with 9 wins, had more than 5.
Among the hitters, nobody had more than 10 home runs. Bill Buckner led the team in slugging and tied for the team lead in home runs, which wasn't a common occurrence for him. Buckner was the only one of the five regular infielders who hit better than .234, as two of them hit under .200.
On the bright side, a fellow named Lee Smith got his first major league save. A kid named Mel Hall got his first major league hit. Rookie Jody Davis got playing time at catcher.
And in the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Phillies were eyeing Cub shortstop Ivan DeJesus, and would engineer a trade in the off-season between 1981 and 1982 to bring DeJesus to Philly to help the team win the 1983 pennant. To get DeJesus, all the Phils had to do was trade oldster Larry Bowa and unproven youngster Ryne Sandberg. The Cubs would end up winning that trade handily.
The major event of the season came during the strike, when owner William Wrigley sold the team to the Chicago Tribune corporation for $20.5 million on June 16th. It was the end of six decades of family ownership.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Bill Buckner
- Jeff Katz: "Split Season 1981, Chicago Style", in Stuart Shea, ed.: North Side, South Side, All Around Town, The National Pastime, SABR, 2015. ISBN 978-1-93359987-8
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