The 1969 Chicago Cubs didn't win any championships, or any division titles. But the Chicago Cubs 1969 season was the year that it was all supposed to happen. The team looked great, was showcasing stellar and deep starting pitching, had some stars in the field and seemed to have all of the momentum in the world from Opening Day all the way through to September. But that month of September was a terrible one to remember for the team, and the 1969 Chicago Cubs would end the year out of the postseason hunt.
The start of the Chicago Cubs 1969 season was spectacular. The team won dramatically on opening day with a walk off home run by Willie Smith. From there, they won 11 of their first 13 games, and they held an early lead in first place. In fact, they would be in first place all the way from opening day until September 9th, when they fell out of first once and for all.
This was part of an epic collapse that's still remembered, unfortunately, to this day. With late season leads over the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets of 8.5 and 9.5 games respectively, they couldn't close the show. From September 3rd through September 15th they lost 11 of 12 games. Meanwhile, the Miracle Mets closed the year winning an astonishing 39 of 50 games. The 1969 Chicago Cubs would finish 8 games back, not even close in the final week of the season to try to make a final surge in the other direction.
Of course, this collapse during the Chicago Cubs 1969 season holds a special and infamous event within it. The curse popped up once again, this time in the form of a black cat crossing Ron Santo's path in Shea Stadium. That's what most fans remember most about Santo and the 1969 Chicago Cubs, although it's better to fondly recall is trot and heel kick down the left field line after another Cubs Win.
Santo had a strong season, and Ernie Banks was 38 years old and nearing the end of his career. It looked to be a great mix of youth and veteran experience, and the pitching staff was great. Ferguson Jenkins and Bill Hands each won more than 20 games, and Ken Holtzman added 17 wins of his own, including a no hitter on August 19th against the Atlanta Braves. The team was led by manager Leo "the lip" Durocher, although he shouldered much of the blame after the fact for the team's collapse.
Despite the late season collapse and how far they ended up behind the Mets, who of course ended up winning the World Series, the 1969 Chicago Cubs still put up one of their best seasons in quite some time, finishing 92-70. Many years that would have been enough, but not this time, and the best season in decades by the Cubs wasn't enough to make it into the playoffs. Certainly a disappointing ending to what looked like a potentially miraculous year. Instead, the Chicago Cubs 1969 season just brought on more heartbreak.
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