Thirty years ago today, Wrigley Field was rocking for two sizzling Cub wins over the rival New York Mets, a day that saw the Cubs begin to pull away from the rest of the Eastern Division.
It was also the day of one of the more memorable altercations in the park’s history as tempers flared on a hot August afternoon. 39,271 were on hand to see it. I was one of them, sitting in the left-field bleachers after having arrived at the park at 7am to join a huge line for bleacher seats. Jonathon Brandmeier had dispatched Piranha Man to visit the line that morning and yes, it seemed to help pass the time.
To set the scene, the Cubs run to first place had stalled in late July as they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Mets, but they won promptly won three straight at Shea after that. When the Mets showed up at Wrigley on August 6, the Cubs pounded Doc Gooden 9-3 and were on top of the New Yorkers by a game and a half.
Rick Sutcliffe was anything but sharp in the opener, allowing six runs on ten hits, but the Cubs had his back pounding out three home runs for the 8-6 win. Sut’s record went to 9-1 at that point. Leon Durham and Keith Moreland went yard in that game, but it was Ron Cey’s 5th inning home run I’ll always remember. The wind always seemed to be blowing out in 1984 and it was that day. Cey hit a fly ball that Mets shortstop Rafael Santana moved back for only to watch it ride the jet stream into the bleachers. I can still see Santana kicking the turf in frustration.
The nightcap featured more fireworks. When Moreland came to the plate in 4th inning, Ed Lynch plunked him on the thigh. Moreland was having none of it and charged the mound, using a perfect Texas Longhorn lower-the-shoulder tackle to take Lynch’s legs out and the benches emptied.
“I just went out there to get my point across,” Moreland said after the game. “It’s part of the game of baseball. I have no hard feelings against anybody.”
Scott Sanderson hit Kelvin Chapman with a pitch in the Mets 5th, earning the rest of the day off with an ejection along with manager Jim Frey. The Cubs didn’t blink as the reserve crew led by Thad Bosley, Henry Cotto and Jay Johnstone pounded out another eight runs and the Cubs got the sweep with the 8-4 win.
The Cubs won the next day 7-6 and were in the driver’s seat for the rest of the year.
*The Cubs swept their last four double-headers of 1984.
*Ed Lynch was traded to the Cubs in 1986 and became teammates with Keith Moreland. Lynch was named Cubs general manager in October 1994 and resigned in July, 2000.