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  • Fun With History: Mauch, Cubbage Ejected 1978

    I am all for getting the calls right if we have the technology, but I am not a fan of how the new replay rules are working. I think they need to be much more efficient (or quick!) to not annoy and potentially lose a small part of any team's fan base.

    With the new replay rules, something that has long been a part of baseball will be much more rare. There won't as many great manager/umpire arguments like there were in the past.

    We have all seen video of Earl Weaver and Billy Martin in the face of umpires. We have seen dirt kicked and caps thrown.

    I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Minnesota Twins history and go a little deeper.

    During the past offseason, video of a July 1978 Twins, Red Sox game appeared. It's actually fascinating to watch a Twins player react like Mike Cubbage did when he was called out. Manager Gene Mauch was also ejected for arguing and tossed bats all over the field before leaving the field.

    Here is the video, and following it, I'll mention so other interesting tidbits from the game.



    Mike Cubbage was the base runner and from watching the video, it appears he was safe. Cubbage had gotten on base with a single. He was 1-2 when he was ejected. He was also hitting .319, pretty impressive considering it was mid-July already.

    Though his career was not great, he was in the big leagues for parts of eight seasons. He came to the Twins from the Rangers in a July 1976 trade along with Roy Smalley and two other players in exchange for Bert Blyleven.

    Speaking of Smalley, he came to the team and was a very good shortstop for several years. Most know that he was the nephew of the manager who was ejected, Gene Mauch. Did you know that Smalley was the #1 overall pick in the 1974 draft after a College Baseball Hall of Fame career at USC. He was in the big leagues less than one year later, and traded to the Twins two years after being selected.

    This ejection came in Game 2 of a doubleheader with the Red Sox. Smalley went 0-4 in that game, but he was 3-5 with a double in the first game.

    Batting third for the Twins in that game was Rod Carew, playing 1B. He was 1-3 with a walk in the game.

    The Twins had a couple of hitting stars in the 3-2 loss in Game 2. Hosken Powell led off and went 3-5. "Disco" Dan Ford was batting cleanup and went 2-4. Rob Wilfong, who a couple of years later was sent to California in a deal that brought the Twins Tom Brunansky, had two hits. Willie Norwood went 2-4 with a double and a home run in the game.

    You may have notice a spry, young first base coach for the Twins, donning the powder blue, and looking to not keep his third baseman in the game. Tony Oliva was the first base coach that year.

    Roger Erickson pitched the complete game for the Twins. He went eight innings and gave up just three runs on seven hits. He walked none and struck out three. It seems he would fit in well with the current Twins style of pitcher.

    When the Red Sox won that second game of a double header, they improved to 60-28 under the leadership of one Don Zimmer.

    The Red Sox put a pretty solid lineup out against the Twins. Hall of Famer Jim Rice hit third in the game. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski batted fourth. The big hit of the game was a two-run homer from Fred Lynn, who batted fifth.

    Bob Stanley pitched the final two innings for the Red Sox to record the save. He was in just his second season with the Red Sox. He threw in 52 games for the Sox, but he made just three starts. He went 15-2 with 10 saves and a 2.60 ERA. Of course, many in Red Sox Nation remember him for a certain Wild Pitch he threw in the 1986 World Series, in Game 6.

    That day's first base umpire, Bill Kunkel, pitched in the big leagues from 1961 through 1963. In 1968, he became an American League umpire and was well-respected in that role until his death in 1985. He may be best known as being one of the final two umpires to weather the outer chest protector. His son, Jeff Kunkel, played infield in the big leagues for parts of nine seasons.

    Let's get back to Mike Cubbage before we conclude this glimpse back in time. Cubbage was a third base coach in the big leagues from 1990 to 2003 for the Mets, Astros and Red Sox. He was an interim manager of the Mets in 1991, and for the Red Sox early in 2002. Since 2006, he has been a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

    Once in a while it is fun to look back in history and look into a box score. Which teams had the better players, or even future Hall of Famers? Which relative unknown got to play hero in the big leagues? The Mike Cubbage, Gene Mauch ejection video takes us back in time to some names from over 25 years ago and some great powder blue uniforms.

    Does anyone remember this game? Who were your obscure favorite players, like Willie Norwood, or Dan Ford, or Roger Erickson or maybe even Bombo Rivera?
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Wait a minute, your claiming that a pitcher can pitch the 8th AND 9th innings in a save situation? It's not against the rules? Did Mauch pitch a fit over breaking an "unwritten rule" for keeping a pitcher in for the 9th in a save situation?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Weird, huh? Yup, that's what the role of the closer was in the '70s and most of the '80s. Eckersley/Larussa were the ones who pretty much changed it into a one-inning type of role.
    1. Kirby_Waved_At_Me's Avatar
      Kirby_Waved_At_Me -
      I have that Mike Cubbage topps card. My brother had it autographed . . . by Joe Vavra. It's one of the stranger things anyone has ever given to me.
    1. Rick Niedermann's Avatar
      Rick Niedermann -
      I remember this incident and this team. Mauch was a big platoon guy and when you look at the roster you can see the many platoons he used. Our rotation wasn't to bad. But the bullpen was god awful. There were 4 Minnesota natives on the roster. Pitchers Gary Serum, Greg Thayer, Tom Johnson and David Goltz. Despite what the record shows, this was a fun team to watch. Mauch was the best strategic manager the Twins have ever had in my opinion. Griffiths just didn't keep many of the key players. There was so much talent that came and went in that era. Had we a different owner I am sure there was a good chance of winning a World Series back then.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick Niedermann View Post
      Had we a different owner I am sure there was a good chance of winning a World Series back then.
      I completely agree. It was so frustrating as a fan to see any player with talent be gone so quickly after demonstrating that talent. I know Griffith people would say it was just a factor of the economic era of the game at the time and that he didn't have the same financial resources other owners had. All I know is that it was that era, more than any since, that caused me to really struggle to remain engaged as a fan.
    1. Lazarus's Avatar
      Lazarus -
      Classic! It's hard to tell if Tony O. understood anything that was being said there...

      Disco Dan Ford, Hosken Powell, Willie "Dr. Strangeglove" Norwood (the yardstick which all bad defensive outfielders should be measured by) - no wonder Carew demanded a trade. There was a story from Reusse "back in the day" that after a particularly brutal game by Norwood, Mauch took Norwood's glove and set it on fire in the clubhouse. He resigned mid-August a couple of weeks after that. Don't know if the story is true but I've always hoped that it was.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      You may have notice a spry, young first base coach for the Twins, donning the powder blue, and looking to not keep his third baseman in the game.
      I'm not sure what he could have done. Within the first half-second of Cubbage realizing he was out, he threw his hat down and got ejected. Tony O just let him vent for a bit. Maybe he could have kept his manager from getting ejected, but from what I remember about Mauch, that was unlikely.

      takes us back in time to ... some great powder blue uniforms
      "Great" wasn't the word that came to mind. (I did like those batting helmets, though.)
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus View Post
      Willie "Dr. Strangeglove" Norwood (the yardstick which all bad defensive outfielders should be measured by)
      Kevin Reimer of the Rangers had to be worse, although looking back at the stats, it was probably close. Reimer was comically bad - he tried to make up for his inability to catch being slow by taking bad routes, so he wouldn't have to actually try to touch the ball. Norwood had 14 errors one year while Reimer maxed out at 11 (in slightly fewer innings.) Reimer managed a -3.2 dWAR one year, while Norwood's worst was -0.9. (Baseball Reference version.)
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      I remember wondering when the Twins were going to pull themselves in to the modern era by dumping those old-fashioned uniforms and getting some new polyester pullover jerseys and tight pants with the elastic beltless waistbands. I was happy when they finally joined the rest of MLB and did so. Now, I wonder with everyone else what we were all thinking at the time. Then again, I wonder the same thing when I see pictures of what I was wearing in HS at the time, too.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      Kevin Reimer of the Rangers had to be worse, although looking back at the stats, it was probably close. Reimer was comically bad - he tried to make up for his inability to catch being slow by taking bad routes, so he wouldn't have to actually try to touch the ball. Norwood had 14 errors one year while Reimer maxed out at 11 (in slightly fewer innings.) Reimer managed a -3.2 dWAR one year, while Norwood's worst was -0.9. (Baseball Reference version.)
      Watching the ball bounce off of Mickey Hatcher's head in left field was pretty entertaining.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      Watching the ball bounce off of Mickey Hatcher's head in left field was pretty entertaining.
      First thought - Did it go over the fence like Jose Cansceco's did?
      Second thought - It was Mickey Hatcher - did it dent the ball?
    1. blairpaul715's Avatar
      blairpaul715 -
      Talking uniforms, I remember sometime in the 70's(73 maybe) that the White Sox wore shorts, would be so hilarious today to see that.
    1. SD Buhr's Avatar
      SD Buhr -
      Quote Originally Posted by blairpaul715 View Post
      Talking uniforms, I remember sometime in the 70's(73 maybe) that the White Sox wore shorts, would be so hilarious today to see that.
      It was hilarious enough to see at the time.

    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SD Buhr View Post
      It was hilarious enough to see at the time.

      Looks like he should be pitching underhand and holding a beer.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      If Bill Veeck had any say in the matter, he definitely would have been nursing a beer out there.
    1. Steve_h's Avatar
      Steve_h -
      I was a 10 year old in 1978. It was my first year as a Twins fan. Memorable year and listened to almost every game. My impressions, looking back, were how much Gene Mauch loved platoons. I think there were four regular platoons, 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and sometimes at catcher but that wasn't a true platoon. I loved the goofy looking Roger Erickson, who was close to the staff ace that Like the other better remembered Erickson, Roger's best year was as a rookie.
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