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Saturday, July 07, 2012
A quarter century ago today was one of the most infamous games in Chicago Cubs history. It’s one of those games every Cubs fan of a certain generation remembers—and remembers quite well.
Twenty-five years ago today was the Eric Show game.
On July 7, 1987, the Cubs hosted the visiting San Diego Padres in the second act in a three-game series. Ordinarily, this would be a mundane battle between two second-division teams, except there was a certain edge to the proceedings.
Cub star Andre Dawson later recounted in his autography how, just before the series began, rookie Padres skipper Larry Bowa made some noises to the press about his pitchers needing to challenge hitters and be more aggressive throwing inside. With fighting words like that and Bowa’s own well-established reputation as a red-ass, Dawson said he knew heading into the series that fireworks might erupt. How right he would be.
Though the first game passed without incident, the second game would be anything but quiet. In the first inning, Dawson belted a homer off Show to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. And that set up the game’s main event.
In the third inning, with the Cubs now leading 4-2, Dawson came back to the plate to face Show. Immediately, Show hurled a fastball right at Dawson’s face. The projectile found its target as Dawson went down with a grisly wound that would require over a dozen stitches to heel.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
What makes this game so notable isn’t that there was a beanball. Those happen all the time. It isn’t that there was a beanball that resulted in a charge of the mound. That also is typical.
No, what sets apart the Cubs game is this: the mound was charged … from the dugout.
Yeah, that doesn’t happen too often. But it did here as Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe led his teammates in an attempted stomping of Show. Fortunately for Show, San Diego first baseman John Kruk grabbed Sutcliffe, preventing Show from being blindsided by the 6-foot-7 Sutcliffe. As for Dawson, he was bleeding and incoherent, in no condition to charge at the time. But the brawl was on.
And it went on for a few minutes before the umps restored order. When it looked like it was over, Dawson had regained his senses, and with it become angry. He made a lunge at Show down the first base line. I’ve heard fellow Cub fans describe it as a ferocious charge, while my memories are more of a semi-dazed stumble.
No matter, it was enough to earn Dawson an ejection alongside Sutcliffe. As for Show, he wasn’t officially ejected, but he kind of was. Officially, he injured his foot or leg stepping weirdly in the proceedings, and after the game an official statement supposedly from Show was released apologizing for the ball that supposedly got away. Sure.
Based on the account, Show was freaked out and stunned by the dugout charge and in no condition mentally to continue. Also, the umps pushed him to the dugout for his own safety during the melee.
The game, and the ejections, weren’t over yet.
Somewhere during the fun, Cubs infielder Manny Trillo earned a heave-ho for throwing his sunglasses case on the field. More than that, there were the attempts at retaliation.
In the top of the fourth, shortly after Dawson’s beaning, Cub pitcher Greg Maddux nailed star Padres catcher Benito Santiago. That earned a thumb for Maddux and manager Gene Michael.
Reliever Scott Sanderson also tried to get some blood vengeance. He failed in his attempt to get Tony Gwynn in the fifth, as the star hitter dodged enough inside pitches to earn a walk.
My memory of the day has it that two more Cubs were ejected, for seven Chicago ejections in all, but there were no more hit-by-pitches.
But it’s one of those ugly beanings that a fanbase remembers for a long time—25 years and counting in this case.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim things.
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