Chicago Cubs: The Heroes of Wrigley Series presents Rick Reuschel

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

An absolute workhorse on the mound, Rick Reuschel was a renaissance man who enjoyed longevity in the big leagues, including a run with the Chicago Cubs.

A farm boy from Quincy, Illinois, Chicago Cubs hurler Rick Reuschel sure had the physique of your stereotypical farmhand.  He stood a staunch 6-foot-4 and weighed a hefty 225 pounds.

Despite his portly figure, he proved that bodies can be deceiving when it comes to athletes as he was actually quite agile, often entering games solely as a pinch-runner on days that he didn’t pitch.

“Big Daddy,” as he was affectionately nicknamed, was also a decent hitter at the plate, batting over the Mendoza Line numerous times throughout his career. But Reuschel made his name in baseball as a pitcher and became remembered as one of the best of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Chicago Cubs drafted Reuschel in the third round of the 1970 draft. As the glory days of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams were coming to an end, Reuschel was just beginning his career.  In 1972, after just two years in the minor leagues, the big righty was called up to the Majors.

His rookie season was the last winning season that the Cubs had for 11 seasons.  During the time when the team was swimming in mediocrity, the ever-consistent Reuschel was a bright spot for fans at the Friendly Confines.

A complete workhorse on the mound for Chicago, he averaged 36 starts per season during his tenure with the Cubs.

His best season came in 1977, with the Cubs in the midst of a promising pennant run, when he compiled a 20-10 record with a 2.79 ERA over 39 appearances, spanning 252 innings.  Reuschel was voted a National League All-Star and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting behind only Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton and Los Angeles’ Tommy John.

Tired of the team’s lack of prosperity in the win column, the front office decided it was time for a full rebuild.  Midway through the 1981 campaign, the team traded the 32-year-old Reuschel to the New York Yankees.