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1984 Chicago Cubs season


1984 Chicago Cubs season

Template:MLB yearly infobox

The Chicago Cubs' 1984 season was the 109th season for the Cubs. The team finished with a record of 96-65 in first place of the National League Eastern Division. Chicago was managed by Jim Frey and the general manager was Dallas Green. The Cubs played at Wrigley Field, and their postseason appearance in this season was their first since 1945.

The Cubs pitching staff included 1984 Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe, and the lineup included 1984 Baseball Most Valuable Player Award winner second baseman Ryne Sandberg. Frey was awarded Manager of the Year for the National League for leading the Cubs to 96 victories. The Cubs were defeated in the 1984 National League Championship Series by the San Diego Padres three games to two.


Spring Training

The Cubs began their third season under the control of the Tribune Company and Dallas Green in Mesa, Arizona in February 1984. The previous year, the Cubs had fired manager Lee Elia during a 71-91 campaign, but the Cubs showed flashes of being competitive. As late as July 4, the Cubs were within a game of first place. After the 1983 season, general manager Green hired Jim Frey, the former Kansas City Royals manager who was Green's adversary during the 1980 World Series.

The Cubs opened camp with only a few new players. Richie Hebner, the former Pittsburgh Pirate, was signed as a free agent. The Cubs also made a three-way deal with San Diego and Montreal, sending Craig Lefferts and Carmelo Martínez to the Padres, and getting Scott Sanderson from the Expos.

The Cubs struggled in Cactus League action, so Green began to rebuild the team before it left Mesa. Green began by releasing Ferguson Jenkins, who was just 12 games shy of winning 300 games. Jenkins' release ended the right-hander's second stint with the Cubs, and effectively, his career. Green's biggest move of the spring came on March 26, when he sent journeyman reliever Bill Campbell and catcher Mike Diaz to Philadelphia for pitcher Porfi Altamirano and outfielders Gary Matthews and Bob Dernier.

Regular season

Season summary

The Cubs rebuilt the starting pitching staff through a series of trades by Dallas Green after a disappointing 1983 season where they went 71-91. Green had been brought to the Cubs by the Tribune company which purchased the team in 1981. Before the season started, Green dealt Carmelo Martínez, Craig Lefferts, and Fritzie Connally to acquire right-hander Scott Sanderson.[4] On May 25, the Cubs traded Bill Buckner to the Boston Red Sox for righty Dennis Eckersley and Mike Brumley.[5] Finally on June 13, Mel Hall, Joe Carter, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks were sent to the Cleveland Indians for starter Rick Sutcliffe, George Frazier, and Ron Hassey.[6] The acquisition of these three starters solidified the rotation for the year.

The Cubs opened up the season going 12-8 in April, and were tied for first place with the New York Mets and a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. On May 27 against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, third baseman Ron Cey hit what was originally ruled a home run down the left field line. Believing the ball had gone foul, Mario Soto and Reds manager Vern Rapp disputed the call, and during the argument, Soto shoved third base umpire Steve Rippley, who had made the call.

After conferring, the umpires changed their decision and ruled it a foul ball, drawing a protest from the Cubs. However, for shoving Rippley, Soto was ejected, prompting him to charge the field and attack Cubs coach [1]

The race stayed tight through the first half of the season, with the Cubs and Phillies tied at 42-34 on June 30, with the Mets trailing by just one and a half games. The second half of the season was different, with the Cubs posting a 54-31 record, with the Mets trailing, and the Phillies slumping back to a .500 record.[7]

A key game during the season occurred on June 23 at Wrigley, with the Cubs facing the rival St. Louis Cardinals on the nationally televised "game of the week". The Cardinals led throughout the game, and led 9-8 going into the bottom of the ninth with closer Bruce Sutter on the mound. 24 year-old second baseman Ryne Sandberg led off the ninth with a solo home run into the left-field bleachers, tying the game at nine.[8] The following inning, St. Louis regained the lead, and Sutter stayed in the game attempting to close out the win. After the first two batters were retired, Bob Dernier walked, bringing up Sandberg again. He promptly hit another game-tying home run into the left-field bleachers, sending the Wrigley fans into a frenzy.[8] The Cardinals did not score in the top of the 11th, but the Cubs loaded the bases on three walks, then rookie Dave Owen singled in the winning run.[9] Ryne Sandberg had 7 RBI in the game. Henceforth, this game has become known as "The Sandberg Game". On September 3, 1984, Rick Sutcliffe had 15 strikeouts in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Cubs

Opening Day starters

Season standings

Team Wins Losses Win % GB
Chicago Cubs 96 65 .596 0
New York Mets 90 72 .556 6.5
St. Louis Cardinals 84 78 .519 12.5
Philadelphia Phillies 81 81 .500 15.5
Montreal Expos 78 83 .484 18.0
Pittsburgh Pirates 75 87 .463 21.5

Notable transactions


1984 Chicago Cubs
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Game log

1984 Game Log

Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
C Davis, JodyJody Davis 150 523 134 .256 19 94
1B Durham, LeonLeon Durham 137 473 132 .279 23 96
2B Sandberg, RyneRyne Sandberg 156 636 200 .314 19 84
3B Cey, RonRon Cey 146 505 121 .240 25 97
SS Bowa, LarryLarry Bowa 133 391 87 .223 0 17
LF Matthews, GaryGary Matthews 147 491 143 .291 14 82
CF Dernier, BobBob Dernier 143 536 149 .278 3 32
RF Moreland, KeithKeith Moreland 140 495 138 .279 16 80

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Hebner, RichieRichie Hebner 44 81 27 .333 2 8
Buckner, BillBill Buckner 21 43 9 .209 0 2


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Trout, SteveSteve Trout 32 190 13 7 3.41 81
Eckersley, DennisDennis Eckersley 24 160.1 10 8 3.03 81
Sutcliffe, RickRick Sutcliffe 20 150.1 16 1 2.69 155
Sanderson, ScottScott Sanderson 24 140.2 8 5 3.14 76
Ruthven, DickDick Ruthven 23 126.2 6 10 5.04 55
Rainey, ChuckChuck Rainey 17 88.1 5 7 4.28 45
Schulze, DonDon Schulze 1 3 0 0 12 2

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Reuschel, RickRick Reuschel 19 92.1 5 5 5.17 43
Bordi, RichRich Bordi 31 83.1 5 2 3.46 41

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Smith, LeeLee Smith 69 9 7 33 3.65 86
Stoddard, TimTim Stoddard 58 10 6 7 3.82 87
Brusstar, WarrenWarren Brusstar 41 1 1 3 3.11 36
Frazier, GeorgeGeorge Frazier 37 6 3 3 4.10 58
Noles, DickieDickie Noles 21 2 2 0 5.15 14
Altamirano, PorfiPorfi Altamirano 5 0 0 0 4.76 7

Cultural Influences

Before the season began, Grammy-award winning artist Steve Goodman recorded the tune "Go Cubs Go" which was played as the lead-in music for the radio broadcast on WGN radio. Goodman, who died just days before the Cubs clinched the division, also recorded "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request." During the 2007 season, the song was played at Wrigley Field after victories.[16]

The home games always began with the popular Van Halen song "Jump" which always got the fans and the team fired up for a good game.


A myth is that the Cubs were deprived of home-field advantage for the 1984 National League Championship Series (NLCS) because they could not host night games.

However, from 1969–1984, the LCS were five-game series played in a 2-3 format. The NL West and AL East champs hosted the first two games in odd years and the NL East and the AL West hosted the first two games in even years. Thus, no changes were made to the NLCS schedule due to Wrigley Field's lack of lights.[17]

It is true that Major League Baseball announced in August 1984 that if the Cubs were to make the World Series, the first game would be moved to the American League park, to maximize the television revenues from night games. In 1984, the series was to be a seven-game series in a 2-3-2 format with the NL hosting the first two and last two games. Thus, if the Cubs had beaten the Padres in 1984, they would have been "cheated". [18]

Game 1

October 2: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Diego 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Chicago 2 0 3 0 6 2 0 0 X 13 16 0
W: Rick Sutcliffe (1-0)   L: Eric Show (0-1)   S: none
HR: SD – none  CHCBob Dernier (1) Gary Matthews (2), Rick Sutcliffe (1), Ron Cey (1)
Pitchers: SD – Show, Harris (5), Booker (7)  CHC – Sutcliffe, Brusstar (8)

Attendance: 36,282

Game 2

October 3: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Diego 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 5 0
Chicago 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 x 4 8 1
W: Steve Trout (1-0)   L: Mark Thurmond (0-1)   S: Lee Smith (1)
HR: SD – none  CHC – none
Pitchers: SD – Thurmond, Hawkins (4), Dravecky (6), Lefferts (8)  CHC – Trout, Smith (9)
Attendance: 36,282

Game 3

October 4: Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0
San Diego 0 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 x 7 11 0
W: Ed Whitson (1-0)   L: Dennis Eckersley (0-1)   S: none
HR: CHC – none  SDKevin McReynolds (1)
Pitchers: CHC – Eckersley, Frazier (6), Stoddard (8)  SD – Whitson, Gossage (9)
Attendance: 58,346

Game 4

October 6: Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 5 8 1
San Diego 0 0 2 0 1 0 2 0 2 7 11 0
W: Craig Lefferts (1-0)   L: Lee Smith (0-1)   S: none
HR: CHCJody Davis (1), Leon Durham (1)  SD Steve Garvey (1)
Pitchers: CHC – Sanderson, Brusstar (5), Stoddard (7), Smith (8)  SD – Lollar, Hawkins (5), Dravecky (6), Gossage (8), Lefferts (9)
Attendance: 58,354

Game 5

October 7: Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 1
San Diego 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 0 x 6 8 0
W: Craig Lefferts (2-0)   L: Rick Sutcliffe (1-1)   S: Rich Gossage (1)
HR: CHCLeon Durham (2), Jody Davis (2)  SD – none
Pitchers: CHC – Sutcliffe, Trout (7), Brusstar (8)  SD – Show, Hawkins (2), Dravecky (4), Lefferts (6), Gossage (8)
Attendance: 58,359

The Cubs started out well in the final and deciding game of the series. Durham hit a two-run homer in the first and Davis added a solo homer in the second to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. With Sutcliffe pitching well, the Cubs maintained their lead until the bottom of the sixth. Then disaster struck in a way that left many Cubs fans muttering about curses and other storied collapses in the franchise's history.

Chicago's downfall began innocently enough, with San Diego getting two sacrifice flies in the sixth to cut the Cubs' lead to 3-2. But the Padres' seventh proved catastrophic for Chicago. Carmelo Martínez led off the inning with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Garry Templeton, and scored when Tim Flannery's grounder trickled through Durham's legs for a crucial error. Alan Wiggins singled Flannery to second, and Gwynn doubled both runners home to give the Padres a 5-3 lead. Garvey followed with an RBI single to stretch the lead to 6-3. Steve Trout then replaced Sutcliffe on the mound and got out of the inning unscathed.

The Cubs got three baserunners over the final two innings against Gossage but could not score, and San Diego took home its first National League pennant. The Padres would go on to lose the World Series to the dominant Detroit Tigers in five games.

Awards and honors

  • Jim Frey, Associated Press Manager of the Year
  • Ryne Sandberg - National League Most Valuable Player
  • Rick Sutcliffe – National League Cy Young Award Winner

All-Star Game

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Iowa Cubs American Association Jim Napier
AA Midland Cubs Texas League George Enright
A Lodi Crushers California League Junior Kennedy
A Quad Cities Cubs Midwest League Larry Cox
Short-Season A Geneva Cubs New York-Penn League Tony Franklin
Rookie Pikeville Cubs Appalachian League Jim Fairey


  • 1984 Chicago Cubs
  • 1984 Chicago Cubs on Baseball Almanac

External sources

  • 1984 Batting and Pitching Statistics
Preceded by
Philadelphia Phillies
NL East Championship Season
Succeeded by
St. Louis Cardinals
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