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Northside Archives: The Greatest Pitcher in Cubs' History

Written by , Posted in General

June 12, 1990 – The Cubs were floundering in mid-June, having just won four games that probably provided a sliver of hope to the most optimistic, they needed to continue that roll against the New York Mets. The first of three games in two days pitted Dwight Gooden against Mike Bielecki. A year earlier this would’ve been a marquee matchup, but on this date both pitchers were struggling to find their top form.

Bielecki started the game and did not last long at all – pitching 1.1 while giving up 8 runs (6 earned). Kevin Blankenship followed Bielecki with 2.2 innings; Dean Wilkins and Joe Kramer then got the Cubs through the first 8 innings at Wrigley. By the time the top of the ninth started, the four pitchers had coughed up 19 runs and each had been tagged at some point by the 4th place Mets. Even with the offense fighting valiantly, the score was an impossible 19-6. (I always had a certain disdain for those late-80s Mets, especially for some reason, Dave Magadan and Kevin McReynolds – and those two were absolutely battering the Cubs on this day).

And then Don Zimmer discovered the best pitcher in Cubs history. Doug Dascenzo didn’t start the game in the field that day (he only started 54 times for the Cubs that year) but when Zimmer raised up his left arm, Dascenzo answered the call. The consummate fourth outfielder, the 5’7″ Dascenzo was skilled as a defender, and terrible with the bat. On the mound against the Mets, Dascenzo threw 8 pitches while facing only three batters (with the help of a Tim Teufel double-play) and even recorded a strikeout.

His time as a reliever was such a success (and the Cubs were so terrible) that Dascenzo would get 3 more chances to pitch for the Cubs the following season. Each time the Cubs were on the wrong side of lopsided scores and Dascenzo helped preserve the bullpen for the following day. He never surrendered a run in four appearances.

Dascenzo’s career stat line as a pitcher was 5 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BBs, 2 Ks, against a total of 18 batters. He never became more useful than a 4th outfielder though, finishing his playing career with short stints in Texas and San Diego.

In 2006 he became a manager in the Padres’ farm system. After stops in Eugene, Fort Wayne, and San Antonio, Dascenzo is now part of the Atlanta Braves organization with the title “Minor League Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator.” Perhaps along the way he’ll give a bit of pitching advice to a struggling outfielder.

  • Buddy

    Poor man’s Tony Campana?

  • Jedi

    A bankrupt man’s Tony Campana.

  • chuck

    Dascenzo was just oozing with grit, moxie, playing the right way and will to win. It was beyond measurement.

  • Buddy

    Dascenzo’s moxie/grit/gamer/grinder/clutch/chemistry factor was 5. Also his height.

  • Buddy

    PLEASE let this rumor be true…

    “Buster Olney suggests the Red Sox and Nationals could have interest in Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, who will earn $6.5MM in 2012, the final year of his contract. The Red Sox could play Byrd in right and the Nationals could use him in center.”

  • If there is any truth to the Prince to Natties talk, maybe we can swap Marlin for LaRouche.

  • chuck

    I don’t understand the push to move Byrd. He is a goodish player with a reasonable short-term contract. Unless we can get a legit prospect, keep him because somebody has to man CF this year and drive in/score runs. I don’t think I can stomach 650 Campana ABs this year. Ugh…
    This team may be the worst offensive team I have seen for quite a while. So far the only position players we have are Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Castro, Baker and Geo. No 3B and no 1B. Unless we get some monster bats at those positions, this lineup stinks.

  • Jedi

    Chuck, we’re just making room for Coco Crisp…he’s so much better than Byrd that it’s a borderline no-brainer.

  • Seymour Butts

    Todays history lesson, lifted from Wikipedia:

    Moxie originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food,” which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine. Thompson claimed that it contained an extract from a rare, unnamed South American plant, which had supposedly been discovered by a friend of his, Lieutenant Moxie, who had used it as a panacea. Moxie, he claimed, was especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.”

    After a few years, Thompson added soda water to the formula and changed the product’s name to “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food.” By 1884 he was selling Moxie both in bottles and in bulk as a soda fountain syrup. He marketed it as “a delicious blend of bitter and sweet, a drink to satisfy everyone’s taste.”
    The brand suffered a significant decline in sales during the 1930s, which is thought to have been caused by the company’s decision to expand its sugar reserves at the expense of its popular advertising campaign.

    Demand for Moxie has waned in recent years, although the brand persists in New England and Pennsylvania.

    Sugar-free Diet Moxie was introduced in 1962.

  • My magnet guy has been trying to get me on Beverage Moxie Nerve Food.

  • Buddy

    I was in a band in college called “Borderline No-Brainer.”

  • Norm

    If a player isn’t going to be with the Cubs in 2013 (Byrd), trade him if you can get something for him.

  • chuck

    Norm: I generally agree with that unless you won’t get anything of value (grade D prospect, bag of baseballs) for him. I don’t really want the Cubs to completely crater to a 100 loss club because the benifits are not there. I don’t want Castro and other youngsters to mail in a season because the front office threw in the towel.

  • Norm

    But grade D prospects still have a chance, a very very small chance, to blow up into an A prospect. Or maybe a B prospect. Or maybe they flame out. Even if it’s a 1 in 1000 chance, isn’t it worth Marlon Byrd? What would keeping Byrd around do to improve the future?

    If Castro is ‘mailing it in’ because he’s on a bad team, he’s to blame. And Castro knows dam well that the better his numbers are the more money he’ll make, so I really don’t think any arbitration eligible players are going to be mailing anything in.

  • Jedi

    They might lose 100 and be doing everything right from a personnel standpoint. They might win 85 and be doing everything wrong. The number of wins in 2012 isn’t nearly as important as the moves the make – since we’re not seeking the quick path to prosperity. My fear is that they’d trade Byrd and go sign yet another outfielder (which we don’t need); THAT would be a bad move. Trade Byrd and sign no more players, fine. Keep Byrd until you feel his value is highest (potentially in July), fine. But unless we dump Soriano AND Byrd we really shouldn’t be active in the free agent market any further this year.

  • I do like Byrd, but he is in the same category as Campana and the rest of the role players. They are secondary…we need three guys to throw zeros and three guys to mash. The rest of the lineup falls into place when you pencil in guys who can play situational baseball. We lost our only real masher when Rami split, so have two of the six spots filled currently. This is still the NL Central, so we may as well keep tossing in the ante…mediocre teams can still wind up in the thick of things. We haven’t seen any moves from Theo that don’t involve guys who can actually suit up for the bigs…he isn’t bailing on 2012. Byrd for prospects won’t happen, but Byrd for Pena’s replacement and a prospect may.

  • Basil Duke

    It’s definitely looking like a bleak year at Wrigley. As previously noted, the offense is limp – possibly awful. With the exception of Soriano, no pop at all. Dempster and Garza are top drawer starters, but they could go 7-16, with earned run averages under three. The Cubs could be the A’s of the National League for some time to come. Sad.

  • Buddy

    The Cubs won’t be anywhere near as bad as Oakland.

  • BLPCB

    There is nothing wrong with Byrd. But on this team there is no room for him. If this team was a World Series contender, Byrd is a guy I would like on the team as a final piece guy. We have a lot of final piece guys on our team, and I think we can get some good value for them if we move them at the trade deadline: Bozo, Dempster, Byrd, and Marmol.

  • Dusty Baylor

    We have a lot of “nice player if the lineup has 3-4 mashers in it and we can have mediocrity in the rest of the lineup” kind of players. I hope 2012 kicks off with a bang…or at least a couple signings of solid major league pitchers/hitters.

  • carpcasey

    My favorite Dascenzo moment is still the time he bunted and Rob Dibble fielded the ball and threw it at Doug instead of the first basemen.

  • Buddy

    My favorite Dascenzo moment is when he wasn’t on the team anymore. I’m sure he was a nice guy, just not very good at baseball.