I grew up as a Cubs fan in the 1960ís. My first memories of the Cubs were from 1960, but I didnít go to my first game at Wrigley Field until 1961. I learned to read in the Fall of 1960, so 1961 was my first year for sports sections (and there were FOUR newspapers in Chicago back then), box scores, baseball cards, and batting averages. The 1961 Cubs will always be near and dear to my heart. The College of Coaches! Brilliant! A ìrotatingî Head Coach! Ingenuius! An Athletic Director? OK. Whatever you say, P. K.
Unfortunately, the College of Coaches didnít help make the Cubs a better team. If anything, it made them worse. There were too many cooks in the kitchen, no strong leader, and if there was ever a team that was defined by its wallow, it was the Cubs of 1961-65.
But then in 1967, the Cubs suddenly got good. This Grand Improvement all seemed to coincide with the arrival of Leo ìThe Lipî Durocher as the Cubs manager in 1966. Leo was a complete jag-off, but was also a man who would not tolerate failure or accept excuses for losing. You got a losing team? Leoís answer was simple. ìBack Up the Truck.î Leo also grasped the basic premise that the most important element of a winning team is spelled ìP-I-T-C-H-I-N-G,î and for Leo, that meant four stud horses in the starting rotation.
As important as Leo Durocherís presence and personality might have been in turning around ìthe program,î the foundation for the success of the Cubs after Leo arrived was actually laid over the previous ten years or so, going back to when John Holland was appointed General Manager of the Cubs, on October 11, 1956...