Cubs History

Chicago Cubs: Re-living Mickey Morandini’s golden 1998 season

(Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT / AFP)
(Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT / AFP) /
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Mickey Morandini was a character on the baseball diamond. Although not the most famous “Mickey” in baseball history – thanks, Mickey Mantle – Morandini did finish with a solid decade-long career in baseball which he can surely be proud of.

Morandini spent his first eight seasons in Philadelphia Phillies pinstripes and is most known in history as being associated with that franchise. However, Morandini did find a new home in the final two years of his professional career on the North Side of the Windy City with the Chicago Cubs.

In a one-for-one swap just two days before Christmas Day 1997, the Phillies executed a trade sending the 32-year-old second baseman to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Doug Glanville. The deal was strange as Glanville was just two years into his career and 26 years old, fresh off a .300 season for the Cubs. While the Cubs ultimately lost the trade, Morandini did provide value in his short time in the blue and white.

Chicago Cubs: Mickey Morandini and his golden 1998 season

Morandini was never a power hitter. Leading up to the 1998 regular season, the infielder’s career-high in home runs was a whopping six. He had set a new personal high water mark, batting .295 in his final season in Philadelphia, but somehow found the resolve to produce at a higher level in Chicago.

Lost in the sauce of the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run battle and the Cubs’ first postseason appearance in nearly a decade were Morandini’s 4.0 WAR season and new career-highs. Morandini missed just eight games the entire year, appearing in 154 contests over the course of the season.

In the twilight of his days in a player’s uniform, Morandini slashed a resounding .296/.380/.385 with eight home runs and 53 RBI. The home runs, on-base percentage and RBI were all career-bests for Morandini. To add to the production, he walked at a 10.8 percent clip and struck out at just a 12.6 percent rate.

The final couple of years, including his time in Chicago, never did live up to the standard of that 1998 season, but also that season was overwhelmingly overshadowed by Sosa and McGwire. Morandini fits the bill perfectly of players who played for the Cubs, who a majority of the population forgot, including me.

Baseball is odd in that way. The mysticism of overarching success usually falls short of something larger. I’m sure if Morandini were asked about that 1998 regular season and what he remembers most, he would smile and laugh and mention Sosa.

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However, seasons like this should not be overshadowed, no matter how small of an impact. Mickey Morandini was an integral part of that 1998 Cubs season and did help them achieve greatness, and that should not be forgotten no matter how insignificant it may seem today.

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