37 days from now it will be Opening Day in Pittsburgh. To celebrate, let’s look at all the Cub greats that have worn the number 37 in the past.
23 is going to be easy. 34? Child, please. But 37 is a uniform number that hasn’t exactly been worn by Hall-of-Fame caliber guys. In fact, instead of looking at Cub greats in the number 37, how about we look at the sheer comedy that number has brought to the organization?
37 was once worn by a player who, eight years later became the GM of the Cubs, Ed Lynch in 1986-87. Ironically, Lynch ended up trading away another player who wore 37 oh, so well for the Cubbies – Brant Brown. The same Brant Brown that nearly prematurely killed Ron Santo with his inexplicable error in September of 1998. ”No! No! No!” If you’ve heard the call, you’ll never forget it. If you haven’t heard it and you’re a Cub fan, do NOT YouTube it or look it up. It will rip your heart out. Let’s just say, if the Cubs had missed the playoffs in 1998, Brown would have been “Bartman” – just five years earlier.
The player who wore 37 the longest as a Cub was a starting pitcher who won 22 games as a 23-year old in 1963. Not bad, Dick Ellsworth. The Cubs finished 82-80 that season with Ellsworth leading the way, pitching 290 innings with an ERA of only 2.11. The future was bright – and we didn’t even know who Fergie Jenkins, Bill Hand or Ken Holtzman were. Unfortunately, Ellsworth never had another winning season in Chicago and led the league in LOSSES in 1966 with 22. He was gone before his 27th birthday.
There’s the part-time starting pitcher Bill Moskau. It’s pronounced like the city in Russia and he wore the number 37 for the Cubs in 1983. Right in the middle of the Cold War. Awesome.
Honestly, when you look at the list of players who have worn this vast wasteland of a number on the North Side, 9 of 10 them make you say, “Huh? Who’s that?”
Most recently, last season in fact, 27-year old Travis Wood wore 37. He wore it well for a season to be sure – and I like his inclusion in future plans. Rumor has it that this season Wood is going to change to number 30. I’m totally down with that.
Because we need Travis Wood in the future. And, it’s not like 37 has done well in the past.