Thursday, April 04, 2024

20 Years: Free Excerpts from EveryCubEver


This year marks my 20th year as a professional writer. Over the course of 2024, I'll be sharing a few of those offerings you may have missed along the way.

One of my best selling books was the Cubs book EveryCubEver. I don't often offer excerpts here, but this week three pretty interesting Cubs are celebrating birthdays.

These are the entries for Big Jeff Pfeffer (March 31), Jack Harper (April 2) and Don Prince (April 5).

Big Jeff Pfeffer 1882--1954
(Cubs 1905, 1910)
Big Jeff was a college boy (from the University of Illinois) during a time very few MLB players went to college. The downstate native got his crack at the big leagues after he graduated, the year before the Cubs set the record for most wins in a season. The 1905 version of the team was just a few players short…they hadn’t yet acquired Orval Overall, Harry Steinfeldt, or Jimmy Sheckard. Pfeffer was essentially an extra starting pitcher, and occasional reliever. Unfortunately for Big Jeff, he left the best team in baseball to pitch for the worst (the Boston Braves). He returned to Chicago for their pennant-winning 1910 season, and pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen that year. If he had only been a bigger star, surely Jeff Pfeffer would have inspired a tongue twister. Here’s mine: 

    Jeff Pfeffer’s Heifer Heather Left a Leather Sweater.

Jack Harper 1878--1950
 (Cubs 1906)
Harper may be the greatest example of “what goes around, comes around” in baseball history. In 1904 when he was a pitcher with the Reds, Harper beaned Cubs first baseman Frank Chance several times. One time he knocked him out cold. Chance didn’t get mad, he got even. By 1906 Chance was calling the shots for the Cubs. He contacted the Reds to see if they would be interested in trading Harper. Sure enough…they traded him to Chance. Frank let him start one game, pulled him in the first inning, and let him fester on the bench for the rest of the year. Harper never pitched in the big leagues again.

Don Prince 1938--2017
 (Cubs 1962)
Prince’s entire big league career consisted of exactly one inning pitched. He did it for the Cubs on September 21, 1962. The Cubs were playing the Mets at the Polo Grounds. Don faced four batters. He walked one, hit another one, and then faced future Cub Jim Hickman. Hickman grounded into a double play. The last batter Prince faced was Sammy Drake. He was easily retired, and Prince escaped with a perfect lifetime 0.00 ERA. After his playing career, in his golden years, Prince was sent to prison for hiring a hitman to murder two people. It wasn’t a hitman. It was an undercover cop.