Countdown to Opening Day: 5 Days…No. 5 Jim Lefebvre


Wellington Castillo will wear #5 for the first time in 2014 – but there have been five managers who have worn #5 in Cub history. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports

Five days to Opening Day and there have been five managers who wore No. 5 in Chicago Cubs history. Some managed multiple winning seasons, one for only one year. Heck, one of the guys only managed one game.

Let’s start with the latter. Rene Lachemann managed in parts of nine different seasons with four different teams. He managed the Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins and Cubs over his career and never had a winning season. His best chance – statistically and mathematically – came in Chicago in 2002. Lachemann managed one game that year and lost to become the only manager in Cub history to have never won a game.

How about Lou Boudreau? He was a great shortstop in his day and went straight from his playing days to the broadcast booth. He did play-by-play for the Cubs in the late 1950’s before taking over as manager in 1960. Boudreau went 60-94 then went back to the broadcast booth, where he stayed until the mid-80s.

Joey Amalfitano took his turn as manager with No. 5 on his back in the late 1970’s and into the strike-shortened season of 1981. Amalfitano never really worked well in the job, with only 66 wins. Unfortunately, it took him parts of three different seasons to amass that win total, 66-116 for a .363 win percentage.

The most recognizable name on the list most certainly is Jim Riggleman, who managed two winning seasons – 1995 and 1998. ‘Rigs’ was the guy who allegedly wore out Kerry Wood’s arm in 1998, but many forget just the 1995 season when baseball was coming back from the strike and played only 144 games. He led the Cubs to a 73-71 record, had them in first-place in mid-June and kept the Cubs in the Wild Card race until the final weekend.

Jim Lefebvre is the last manager on the list and is the only one to finish without a losing record. Lefebvre went exactly .500 in his two years in Chicago: 78-84 in 1992 and 84-78 in ’93. He was the first player to ever win a World Series (with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965) and a championship in Japan (he did so in 1974).

Five days to Opening Day. Five managers who have worn No. 5. Not one with a winning record. As far as the Cubs go it just seems right, doesn’t it?