Sam Fuld, the Hitless Cubs Club, and "Law & Order"
In the Comments last week, loyal TCR reader The Joe asked which Major Leaguer had the most at-bats without ever getting a hit. (The question stemmed from the fact that Cubs CF candidate Sam Fuld currently has the roundest of lifetime batting averages, .000, after his 0-for-6 showing last season.)
According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, the answer is Mets pitcher Randy Tate, who had 41 at-bats in 1975 without once hitting his way on base. Among non-pitchers, the more interesting record, I think, Mike Potter ('76-'77) and Larry Littleton ('81) share the mark with 23 hitless at-bats for the Cards and Indians, respectively.
But what about the Cubs? I figured that an organization which has fielded so many craptacular teams with roster spots filled by so many never-developed young players and over-the-hill old players would have some worthy entries in a category like this one.
So I waded back into the B-R Play Index and changed the original search parameters a bit to find the 10 non-pitchers who accumulated the most AB's for the Cubs without getting a hit. Note: the players listed may have hit safely before or after they wore the Cub uniform; the point is, they were hitless while they were ours.
Anyway, here are the Top Ten Members of the Hitless Cubs Club:
#10. Herb Hunter, 2B-3B; 0/7 (7 plate appearances) for the 1916-'17 Cubs
In August of 1916, Hunter, then a Giant, became one of still relatively few players in Major League history to hit a home run before his 20th birthday. Two weeks later, he was traded to the Cubs. He went 0-for-4 in the remaining weeks of the 1916 season, then 0-for-3 in 1917, before leaving to fight in World War I. Hunter returned to the bigs in 1920, playing just a handful of games for the Red Sox and Cardinals. He only collected one hit--and no more home runs.
Hunter did eventually manage to leave his mark on baseball, however, becoming a pivotal figure in spreading the game to the Far East. Between the 1922 and '23 seasons, he arranged for a group of American big leaguers to play an exhibition tour in Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines. The group included eventual Hall of Famers Casey Stengel, Herb Pennock, and Waite Hoyt. Nine years later, Hunter returned to Japan with another contingent that included Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, and Frankie Frisch. And in 1932, he arranged for three American players to travel to Japan and give baseball seminars in universities. Among the three was a player who would ultimately achieve notoriety away from the diamond--catcher turned spy, Moe Berg.
#8(t). Ed Glenn, Shortstop; 0/7 (8 PA) for the 1902 Cubs
#8(t). Bill Carney, Outfielder; 0/7 (8 PA) for the 1904 Cubs
#7. Mario Encarnacion, Outfielder; 0/7 (9 PA) for the 2002 Cubs
"Super Mario" was once a highly regarded prospect, even more highly regarded than his close friend and fellow Dominican, Miguel Tejada. Originally signed by the A's, Encarnacion spent seven years in the minors before his rookie year with the Rockies in 2001. He was placed on waivers by the Rox and picked up by the Cubs at the beginning of the '02 season, playing in just three games before he was out of the majors for good.
Three years later, Encarnacion, playing for a professional team in China, failed a steroids test and was suspended for two weeks. Late that same season, when he failed to show up for a team practice, club officials found Encarnacion dead in his hotel room. Encarnacion's death was never directly tied to the drug use (at least, not that I could find).
#6. Harry Wilke, 3B; 0/9 for the '27 Cubs
Wilke deserves a special place in the Hitless Cubs Club since he is the only player on this list whose entire hitless career was as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Congrats, Harry!
#5. Al Glossop, 2B-SS; 0/10 for the '46 Cubs
#4. Ike Van Zandt, Outfielder; 0/11 for the 1904 Cubs
Another happy tale: Van Zandt played in four games for the Cubs in '04, finishing his unremarkable Major League career the next season with the St. Louis Browns. Three years later, while he was playing for a town team in North Adams, New Hampshire, Van Zandt helped fix a game. When news of the fix got out, Van Zandt shot himself in the heart. (No more tragic deaths on this list--I promise.)
#3. Ed Mickelson, 1B; 0/12 for the '57 Cubs
Mickelson had several things to be proud of in his baseball career. He got his first Major League hit as a St. Louis Cardinal while subbing for the great Stan Musial; the hit came off Braves Hall of Famer Warren Spahn; and in 1953, Mickelson recorded the last RBI in the history of the St. Louis Browns. As a Cub, however, he was just hitless.
#2. Clem "Count" Clemens, Catcher: 0/15 for the '16 Cubs
A basketball player at Notre Dame before turning pro in baseball, Clemens eventually landed with the Chicago Whales of the Federal League--the original tenants in Weeghman Park, now Wrigley Field--before joining the Cubs in 1916. Following his baseball career, Clemens became an attorney and was active in Chicago political and legal circles, even running (unsuccessfully) for alderman.
As far as I know, he never crossed paths with Tony Rezko.
Moriarty's brief, hit-free time as a Chicago Cub was just a blip in his colorful, 37-year career as a Major League player, manager, and umpire.
Born in Chicago and raised near the Union Stock Yards, Moriarty had an undistinguished playing career with the Cubs, New York Highlanders, Detroit Tigers and White Sox, which ended in 1916. He then worked as an American League umpire until 1940, with a brief interruption in 1927 and '28 to manage the Tigers.
As an ump, it sounds like Moriarty was a first-class bastard. He reportedly challenged members of the Cleveland Indians to a fistfight beneath the stands in the middle of a game in 1932. He is also the butt of a probably apocryphal story involving Babe Ruth, who, between pitches of an at-bat, allegedly stepped away from the plate and asked home-plate ump Moriarty how he spelled his last name. Moriarty spelled it, after which Ruth is said to have replied, "Just like I thought. Only one I."
Moriarty's final claim to fame has nothing to do with baseball, but very much to do with one of television's greatest shows. He was the grandfather of actor Michael Moriarty, who, among his many roles, played Ben Stone, the original Assistant District Attorney on "Law & Order."