1989 Chicago Cubs
1989 Chicago Cubs / Franchise: Chicago Cubs / BR Team Page
Clinched Division: September 26, 1989, At Montreal Expos
Managed by Don Zimmer
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1989 Chicago Cubs were not expected to be a contending team. The 1988 team had finished 77-85 and had higher expectations. The most disappointing aspect of that team was the performance of closer Rich Gossage, who managed to save only 13 games while blowing 8 saves. With that in mind, the Cubs made a controversial trade sending Rafael Palmeiro, Drew Hall and Jamie Moyer to the Texas Rangers for hard-throwing reliever Mitch Williams, as well as starter Paul Kilgus, reliever Steve Wilson and utility infielder Curtis Wilkerson. All four players received from Texas played key roles for the 1989 team.
Opening day was a sign of things to come for Cubs fan, as Mitch Williams' first appearance was a memorable one. He gave up 3 singles only to strike out three members of the Philadelphia Phillies in a row to win the game, 5-4.
The Cubs enjoyed a mostly injury-free season from many players in 1989, including career years from Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Steve Wilson, Jeff Pico, Lloyd McClendon, and Les Lancaster. Mike Bielecki came out of middle relief in 1988 to win 18 games in 1989. Don Zimmer played an exciting brand of baseball with squeeze plays, hit-and-runs, and most of his decisions worked.
Ironically, team leader Andre Dawson had his worst year as a Cub in 1989, hitting only .252 with 21 home runs and eventually struggling in the postseason, hitting only .105. He was also injured, missing from May 7th to June 12th with an injury.
One of the more amazing games of the season happened on August 29th against the Houston Astros boxscore. The Cubs were down 9-0 entering the bottom of the 6th only to score 10 runs in the final 4 innings to win the game, 10-9. The leader of the comeback was rookie outfielder Dwight Smith who entered the game for Dawson and went 2 for 2 with 3 RBI's. This game has been shown several times over the years on WGN during times when baseball wasn't being played, such as the 1994 strike.
The Cubs advanced to the NLCS to play the San Francisco Giants, led by 1B Will Clark. Clark had an outstanding series, hitting .650 (13 for 20) with 2 homers and 8 RBI's. He was nearly matched by his counterpart Mark Grace who hit .647 (11 for 17) with 1 HR and 2 RBI's. The Cubs lost the series, 4 games to 1.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe and Mitch Williams
- NL Rookie of the Year Award: Jerome Walton
- NL Gold Glove: Ryne Sandberg (2B)
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Ryne Sandberg (2B)
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Jerome Walton (OF)
- NL Manager of the Year Award: Don Zimmer
- Gary Belleville: "September 26, 1989: Cubs clinch NL East on Dwight Smith’s clutch hits," SABR Baseball Games Project.