Countdown to Opening Day: 20 Days – It’s one half of ‘The Daily Double’

Justin Ruggiano

will wear #20 in 2014 for the Cubs – but 30 years ago #20 set the table for a division title. Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

20 Days to Opening Day and a look at the number 20 in Cubs lore brings with it some comedic names. There was Boots Day in 1970, who wore it for 11 games in 1970. Don’t forget about Dummy Lynch in 1948 who wore it his entire Major League career, and he spent it all with the Cubs. All seven games of it.

How about a grouch like Oscar Gamble? OK, that’s a stretch – I’m aware. Gamble wore No. 20 as a raw, 19-year-old with the Cubs in 1969 before going on to hit 200 career home runs. He hit exactly one of those with the Cubs. And of course there’s Thomas Diamond who, like Dummy Lynch spent his entire big league career with the Cubs. Diamond in the rough? How about just rough, period. Diamond won a game with the Cubs. One. The saying may be fitting for NCAA hoops fans every March, but Diamond is the epitome of “one and done”.

Most Cubs fans who remember 1984 know where I’m going with this. After half the Philadelphia Phillies roster was traded to Chicago in the early 1980s, it was Bobby Dernier at the top of the lineup in front of Ryne Sandberg. Together, those two created what was known as “The Daily Double,” spearheading an offense that led the National League in 1984 and helped lead the Cubs to a division title.

Dernier and Sandberg combined to score 208 runs, hit 62 doubles and steal 77 bases at the top of a lineup that had Gary Matthews, Leon Durham and Keith Moreland coming up behind them. Knowing how good Dernier was in 1984 I was all set to write that it was his best full season in the majors – if you call 143 games played a full season. In looking back, it turns out 1984 was the only full season of Dernier’s career. At age 27 in 1984, Dernier was set to be wreak havoc at the top of the lineup for the rest of the decade. By 1989 he was back in Philadelphia, hitting .171. He was out of baseball as a player when the calendar turned to 1990.

Those of us who remember 1984 will never forget how annoying Dernier could be. He was like that gnat you just can’t swat away. The kind of guy you loved to have on your team, but couldn’t stand if he was on the other team. We will never forget his 1980s afro-style haircut, either. Yeah, it was awesome.

His career was short and not exactly the most productive. But in 1984, Dernier was the standard for leadoff men. And, for those of us who remember that season, we will never forget just how good “The Daily Double” was.