Five Young CUB Pitchers

The Zealot’s “5 Young Pitchers” article put me in a contemplative mood.

When I first became a baseball fan (1959, age 10), the CUBS had 5 Young Pitchers. These guys were the envy of baseball, at least among the scouting world. They portended a bright future for the Cubs. They were:

1. Glen Hobbie. Age 23. Southern Illinois Boy. While my definition of “downstate” is “anything south of 127th Street,” Hobbie was from “real Southern Illinois:” South of Springfield. In 1958, he had gone 10-6 with an ERA of 3.76. In 1959 and 1960, he won 16 games each season. Unfortunately, those 32 wins were accompanied by 33 losses, 20 in 1960. And that was the high-water mark. He had 42 of his 62 major league wins before his 25th Birthday: 42-39 before Age 25 and 20-42 thereafter. The Cubs swapped him to the Cardinals in June, 1964, for aging Lew Burdette. That turned out to be “not the worst trade the Cubs made with the Cardinals that month.” In 1961, I was at Wrigley Field when Glen Hobbie hit two home runs in his first two at bats. He sacrifice bunted his third time up and, in the seventh inning, the Cubs pinch-hit for him. I didn’t understand that at age 12; I’m not sure I understand it NOW. Glen Hobbie’s final major league total was 62-81.

2. Bob Anderson. Age 23. East Chicago, Indiana. In 1959, Anderson went 12-13 at Age 23. That was his best year. He won 24 games before Age 25, 12 games after that age. After 1962, the Cubs traded him to Detroit for Steve Boros. The Tigers used him out of the pen for one year, then included him in the trade that sent Rocky Colavito to Kansas City. My memory is that Anderson took one look at Charlie Finley’s organization (Charlie O was still in the learning phase of running a baseball team. Remember the “Pennant Porch?”) and promptly retired. True or not, he never pitched in the major leagues after leaving Detroit. Bob Anderson’s final major league total was 36-46.

3. Dick Drott. Age 22. Cincinnati Kid. He was 15-11 with a last-place team in 1957 (Age 20), and won 7 more (losing 11) in 1958. He won 22 games before Age 23, FIVE afterward. The Cubs did not protect Drott from the expansion draft following the 1961 season. He was drafted by the Houston Colt .45’s, and pitched two years for them. It has been stated that the turning point of Dick Drott’s career was the day he turned 21. Drott REALLY liked the bars on Clark Street. According to reports: About twice a year, John Holland (Cubs GM) would get a late night call from the Addison Street Lockup (Chicago Police Station, Addison and Halsted). The officer would say, “Hello, John. We’ve got your Pitcher again.” Holland never had to ask, “Which Pitcher?” He simply replied, “I’ll be right over.” It was reported that he had a sore arm, but rumor was that he was constantly “drying out.” Dick Drott was dead before Age 40. For some reason, I have the idea that Teddy Ballgame knew Dick Drott. But he might have instead known Ryne Duren, who had many of the same habits. Dick Drott’s final major league total was 27-46.

4. Moe Drabowsky. Age 23. Ozanna, Poland. He was 13-15 with the last-place 1957 team. Drott and Drabowsky were 28-26 for the Cubs in 1957; the rest of the staff was 34-66. His three years with the Cubs after 1957, he was 17-21, and probably led baseball in “not getting out of the second inning” in that time-period. Following the 1960 season, the Cubs swapped him and Seth Morehead (now, there’s another story) to the Braves for Andre Rodgers, a shortstop who hit OK but made too many errors. When Drabowsky was with the Cubs, he beat the Pirates regularly, but had less success against other clubs. Drabowsky actually had a decent “second career” as a somewhat above average relief pitcher, first with the Baltimore Orioles, then with the expansion Kansas City Royals. And, of course, he had the one spectacular World Series game. Moe Drabowsky’s final major league total was 88-105. 43-73 as a starter, but 45-32 with 55 saves in relief.

5. Dick Ellsworth. Age 19. Wyoming. Dick Ellsworth actually came up in mid-1960 at Age 20. But, in 1959, he shut out the eventual pennant-winning White Sox in the Boys’ Benefit Game. He lost 20 in 1962, then won 22 in 1963. His final season with the Cubs was 1966, when he lost 22 games for first-year Cub manager Leo Durocher. Leo wasn’t known for his patience, and following that season, he told the Cubs, “You might as well get whatever you can for Ellsworth, because I’m not going to use him any more.” “Whatever” turned out to be Ray Culp, who had a sore arm. Ellsworth ended up 84-109 in seven seasons (1960-1966) with the Cubs. 62-99 if you don’t count the 22 win season. Ellsworth was traded to Boston a year later, then bounced around through the early-‘70’s. He was involved in the trade where the Red Sox dumped Ken Harrelson on the Indians: The Hawk had gotten “too weird.” Boston’s words, not mine. Ellsworth finished his career with GO BREWERS GO. Dick Ellsworth’s final major league total was 115-137.

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