Wisch: Theriot Isn’t The First To Cross The Cubs For Cards
By Dave Wischnowsky–
Redcoat or Turncoat. Whatever you want to call him, in the eyes of Cubs Nation, Ryan Theriot has turned heel.
On Tuesday, the Dodgers traded the longtime Cubs fan favorite to archrival St. Louis, and just like a professional wrestler – hey, he already has a WWE-worthy nickname – “The Riot” immediately began mouthing off about his former team.
“I’m finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry,” Theriot said during an interview with KFNS in St. Louis.
Most ex-Cubs – or ex-Cards – don’t spout off about the rival team quite like Theriot, but he’s hardly the first ballplayer to suit up for both.
Over the years, more than 300 Major Leaguers have worn both Cubbie Blue and Cardinals Red during their careers, and below is a list of 10 – one for each position, plus a reliever – that I thought I’d spotlight today.
They’re not necessarily the best crossover players in the rivalry (although some certainly are), but they are some of the more interesting ones – and I’ve included a random detail about each.
FIRST BASE: Leon Durham
Durham is best known by fans for hitting 138 home runs, having the best Jheri curl this side of Andre Dawson and letting one big groundball roll between his legs during his eight seasons with the Cubs, but he actually played the first and final seasons of his 10-year career with the Cardinals.
In 1989, “The Bull” went out like a lamb, batting just .056 in 29 games with St. Louis before hanging up his cap for good.
Random Side Note: Durham appears briefly in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” He’s the first baseman for the Cubs in the film sequence where Braves outfielder Claudell Washington hits a foul ball that’s caught by Bueller at Wrigley Field.
SECOND BASE: Rogers Hornsby
One of the best hitters ever to play the game, “The Rajah” won the National League Triple Crown twice, posted a career batting average of .358 and batted a ridiculous .424 in 1924, the best single-season average in history.
Hornsby did most of that damage during his 13-year stint with the Cardinals, but still posted a .350 average during four seasons with the Cubs en route to a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Random Side Note: Hornsby’s first name, Rogers, was his mother’s maiden name.
SHORTSTOP: Shawon Dunston
He was the Cubs’ No. 1 overall pick in the 1982 amateur draft, spent a dozen years patrolling the middle infield at Wrigley and is forever immortalized among Chicagoans thanks to the Shawon-O-Meter, but Dunston also spent a couple of years with the Cards, where he hit .273, surely made countless throwing errors and probably never drew a walk.
Random Side Note: During his senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., Dunston hit an absolutely absurd .790 for the season.
THIRD BASE: Gary Gaetti
Nicknamed the “Rat,” Gaetti – a Centralia, Illinois, native – was released by the Cardinals late in the 1998 season after hitting a so-so .265. The Cubs then picked him off the scrap heap and watched Gaetti post a sizzling .320 average over the season’s final 37 games, helping the Cubs reach the playoffs.
Chicago, as its one to do, then foolishly re-signed the 40-year-old for another year and watched him hit a meager .204 in ’99, before calling his career quits.
Random Side Note: Legend has it that Gaetti holds the record for the longest home run in Northwest Missouri State University baseball history, estimated at 505 feet.
LEFT FIELD: Lou Brock
Famously traded by the Cubs for sore-armed Cardinals pitcher Ernie Broglio during the 1964 season, Brock went on to make suckers out of Chicago. After 16 seasons in St. Louis, he retired with more than 3,000 hits, a Major League record 938 stolen bases, two World Series championships and a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown.
Broglio, meanwhile, won seven games – total – in three seasons for the Cubs.
Random Side Note: In his rookie season in 1962, Brock became one of just four players to hit a home run into the center-field bleachers at the old Polo Grounds in New York. The others were Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Babe Ruth.
CENTER FIELD: Jim Edmonds
Seeing longtime nemesis Edmonds in a Cubs uniform in 2008 was about as weird as seeing Ryan Theriot in a Cardinals uniform will be in 2011. After eight stellar seasons in St. Louis, Edmonds joined the Cubs and helped lift them to the playoffs as he batted .256 with 19 home runs.
Random Side Note: Jim Edmonds’ nicknames in St. Louis included “Hollywood” and, um, “Lassie.”
RIGHT FIELD: John Mabry
The Cubs and Cardinals haven’t shared many good right fielders, so let’s look at journeyman John Mabry. In eight years – coming via three separate stints – with the Redbirds, Mabry batted a solid .281 in St. Louis.
During his one season with the Cubs in 2006, Mabry then batted .205. Sounds about right.
Random Side Note: John Mabry is one of the few major leaguers who didn’t like to wear batting gloves.
CATCHER: Joe Girardi
Most people think of Girardi as either a Cub or a Yankee, but New York’s current skipper spent his final season in 2003 playing in St. Louis. Granted, it was only for 16 games – during which Girardi batted a paltry .130 with 1 RBI before retiring – but the former Cubs team captain did don Cardinals red.
Random Side Note: At Northwestern University, Joe Girardi met his future wife, Kim, when he found the earring she lost during an Alpha Tau Omega frat party.
STARTING PITCHER: Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown
Known for his deformed right hand (which was mangled during a childhood farming accident) and his pitching prowess for the Cubs during the early 20th century, Mordecai Brown actually began his career as a Cardinal.
In 1903, Brown went 9-13 with St. Louis before the team traded him to Chicago, where he piled up a 188-86 record in 10 seasons. Take that, Ernie Broglio.
Random Side Note: According to his biography, in 1928 – at the age of 51 – Brown did a favor for the local Terre Haute, Ind., baseball team by pitching during an exhibition game against the famous House of David touring team. In three innings of work, Brown struck out all nine batters he faced.
RELIEF PITCHER: Frank DiPino
Sure, I could have picked Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith or Dennis Eckersley – three famous hurlers who each toed the rubber for both Chicago and St. Louis – but they’re too obvious.
Instead, I went with the nondescript DiPino, who spent three seasons with both the Cubs and the Cards. In St. Louis, he was 14-2 with a 3.34 ERA and three saves. In Chicago, meanwhile, he was 7-10 with a 4.32 ERA and 10 saves.
But DiPino also was the winning pitcher for the Cubs in the first night game ever played at Wrigley Field on Aug. 9, 1988.
Random Side Note: Carol Baldwin, the mother of the Baldwin Brothers (Alec, Daniel, Stephen and Billy) is from DiPino’s hometown of Camillus, N.Y.
Hey, I said these were random.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.