CHICAGO – They’re arguably one of the most beloved teams in the history of Chicago sports never to have even made their league’s playoffs.
Maybe it was the players, maybe the atmosphere of the “Friendly Confines,” or just some of their moments, but the Cubs of 1969 have lived on in team history as long as any other in the 108-years between World Series championships.
Thursday marked the 52nd anniversary of one of the great moments of that season, and in many ways, the high point of that season before it’s forgettable finish became the fodder for nightmares for the fan base for decades.
On August 19, 1969, Ken Holtzman threw a no-hitter against the Braves at a windy Wrigley Field in a 3-0 victory. The starter finished off the no-hitter by getting Henry Aaron to ground out to Glenn Beckert at second, and after his throw to Ernie Banks sealed the victory, their was pandemonium.
Ron Santo, who gave the Cubs all their runs on the afternoon with a three-run first inning homer, jumped on top of Holtzman within seconds of the final out. He was soon joined by his teammates who celebrated the achievement with the 37,514 fans in the stands who had another reason to cheer that season.
“It’s a no-hitter, It’s a no-hitter for Kenny Holtzman. Look at this, oh brother!” exclaimed WGN-TV play-by-play announcer Jack Brickhouse during one of his most memorable calls with the team.
It was a clean performance by Holtzman but not without a few close calls. In the seventh inning, Aaron hit a ball deep to left field that was knocked down by the wind or it would have been out of the park. Instead, Billy Williams made a vine-rattling catch to keep the no-hitter intact.
Holtzman didn’t strike out a batter during the no-hitter and walked three, but he was plenty good enough to create the last memorable moment of that famed 1969 campaign.
Up by eight games on August 19th, the Cubs would finish the regular season 15-35, while the second place Mets went 33-11 at the finish. It would help New York to double-up the Cubs by the end of the season, finishing eight games ahead of Leo Durocher’s team which finished the year 92-70.
Larry Hawley remember that moment 52 years ago on Thursday on WGN News Now, and you can watch that in the video above.