Go Figure: Chicago baseball on Easter by the numbers

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Joe Maddon looks over the field during his first game as Cubs manager on Easter Sunday in 2015.

    Joe Maddon looks over the field during his first game as Cubs manager on Easter Sunday in 2015. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO

  • Former White Sox catcher and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk greets fans during opening night of SoxFest in 2019.

    Former White Sox catcher and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk greets fans during opening night of SoxFest in 2019. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO

 
By Matt Baron
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 4/11/2020 5:31 PM

It's Easter Sunday. In a world without COVID-19, both Chicago baseball teams would have been playing home games and nearing the 10-percent mark of their 162-game regular season.

Alas, we can only imagine how the White Sox would have fared against the visiting Minnesota Twins in the afternoon, or how the Cubs' three-game series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals would have turned out.

 

Instead, let's stroll through each franchise's history on this holiday. Combined, the Cubs and White Sox have played 95 Easter games.

The first: April 23, 1905, when Easter came late enough to intersect with baseball's later-than-modern-day start to the season. On that day, in Chicago, the Cubs beat the Pirates, 1-0, while the White Sox fell to the Detroit Tigers, 3-2.

The most recent Easter action: April 21, 2019. The Sox were in Detroit and dropped another close one to the Tigers, 4-3; at Wrigley Field, the Cubs eked out a 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Both clubs, overall, have winning records in their respective histories. But on Easter? Not much success. The White Sox are 21-25 while the Cubs have been even more dismal, at 20-29.

Along the way, though, there have been plenty of moments of trivial intrigue. Eight of the 10 questions have multiple-choice options, and answers are at the bottom.

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1906: The Cubs win, 8-5, in 10 innings at Cincinnati's Palace of the Fans. Which Cub committed an error in the game? (Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker, Frank Chance)

1911 & 1916: After losing their first two Easter clashes in '05 and '08, the White Sox win this pair of games behind Hall of Fame hurlers. Which of these pitchers was not on the mound in either of those contests? (Eddie Cicotte, Ed Walsh, Red Faber)

1935: The White Sox edge the St. Louis Browns, 6-5, dropping Bobo Newsom's career record to 16-25. Before he's done, at 46, Newsom accumulates 211 wins -- and what distinction among the 115 men who have won at least 200 games?

1954: Sox pitcher Billy Pierce outduels Cleveland's Early Wynn, who goes on to lead the American League in wins that year as the Indians advance to the World Series. Five years later, Wynn again leads the AL in wins while helping bring his team to the World Series. Which team? (Yankees, Tigers, White Sox)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

1960: The Cubs lose, 4-3, in 14 innings at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The Giants' winning pitcher, an eccentric, scores the winning run -- the last time he reaches home safely in his career. (Billy Loes, Juan Marichal, Stu Miller)

1962: Both teams play doubleheaders -- an Easter first. On the South Side, a 6-foot-6 right-hander makes his Major League debut with an inning of work in a 7-1 loss to the Kansas City A's. He logs over 100 innings for the Sox during the '62 and '63 seasons but goes on to greater success in basketball as an eight-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer. Who was it?

1968: The Cubs beat the Cardinals, 7-6, buoyed by Ernie Banks' three-run home run. In his second season with the team and en route to 200-plus wins for his career, who gets the win? (Ken Holtzman, Fergie Jenkins, Joe Niekro)

1981: New Sox catcher Carlton Fisk blasts his fourth home run in seven games. It's also his third against his ex-team, the Boston Red Sox. Over his last 89 games of strike-shortened '81, how many more homers does Fisk slug? (Three, Eight, Twelve)

1998: The Expos beat the Cubs, 4-1, in Montreal, though 20-year-old Cub Kerry Wood whiffs seven in his Major League debut. Four starts later, how many strikeouts does he rack up against the Houston Astros? (10, 15, 20)

2015: In the first game of the season for the entire Majors, the Cardinals blank the Cubs, 3-0. It's Joe Maddon's debut as Cubs manager, and it's also the first game for which Cub starting pitcher? (John Lackey, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester)

Answers

1906: Johnny Evers; 1911 & 1916: Eddie Cicotte; 1935: Lowest winning percentage: 48.7; 1954: White Sox; 1960: Billy Loes; 1962: Dave DeBusschere; 1968: Joe Niekro; 1981: Three; 1998: 20; 2015: Jon Lester.

• Matt Baron is an Oak Park-based freelance writer. He supplements his baseball brainpower with Retrosheet.org for research.

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