Sunday, March 15, 2020

March 15, 1984 -- Billy Williams Opens Up on the Cubs
March 15, 1984 – Oakland A’s batting coach Billy Williams, speaking in Phoenix before the Cubs play an exhibition game against the A's, talks candidly of his years with the Chicago National League ball club.  “It seems to me,” says Williams, “that the Cubs’ organization, through the years, has had more bona-fide players slip through their hands than any other organization I know of.” [Chicago Tribune, March 16, 1984]  All black players on the Cubs, Williams says, were expected to act like Ernie Banks.  “There were times when they wanted me to be like Ernie,” Williams says.  “When I made $100,000 a year for the first time, they said, ‘Now, you know, Ernie never made that much money.’ I said, ‘Hey, I’m not Ernie.’”  Starting pitcher Scott Sanderson gives up six runs in the second inning, including a 450-foot home run to Dave Kingman.  After the game, when asked what pitch he threw to Kingman, Sanderson answers, “It was a real long pitch.”  The Cubs went on to finish first in the National League East division with a record of 96-65.  Jim Frey was named the Associated Press Manager of the Year.  Ryne Sandberg was the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Rick Sutcliffe won the National League Cy Young award.  In a heart-breaking National League Championship series, the Chicago club walloped the San Diego Padres in the first two games of a best-of-five series, going on to lose the next three at Jack Murphy Stadium.  My take on that final game of the series can be found here.

March 15, 1957 – Flames are visible for miles against the night sky as a fire destroys the Illinois Central Railroad outbound freight house at 211 East South Water Street.  The fire gains headway as a stiff wind out of the south fans the blaze as early in the battle a switch engine pulling more than a dozen freight cars, some of them ablaze, from the burning warehouse runs over the first six hose lines stretched across the railroad tracks.  A 4-11 alarm is sounded as two fire boats – the Medill and the Busse – come to the scene to assist.  The freight house has historic significance.  It was at this location that Chicagoans trying to escape the flames of the great fire of 1871, took shelter, close to the lake and the river.

March 15, 1937 – The last street car to run over the lake shore tracks between Chicago Avenue and Ohio Street reaches the entrance of Navy Pier at 1:23 a.m.  A few hours later workers begin to tear up the tracks.  Discontinuation of the service comes as a result of an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission, an order that the transit lines do not appeal.  As soon as the tracks are removed construction will begin on the new approaches to the outer drive bridge across the river, according to the president of the park district, Robert J. Dunham.  The 1921 photo above shows the convenience of public transportation to Navy Pier that the lake shore line provided.

March 15, 1954 -- The Chicago Sanitary District announces that it will build a four-story office building on the site of the former Cyrus Hall McCormick mansion on the northeast corner of Rush and Erie Streets. The property, for which the district pays $212,000, is the site of an 1870's mansion that the "reaper king," Cyrus Hall McCormick, built and which was later occupied by his son, Harold McCormick, who served as the head of International Harvester until his death.

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