Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Death of Cubs Pitcher Bill Hands-- Part 3: What a Year in 1969 (Well, Till the End)

Durocher's Rebuilding Program.

Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins said:  "At the end of the '66 season, when we'd just lost 103 ballgames, Leo took Bill Hands, Joe Niekro, Rich Nye, Kenny Holtzman and myself, and he told us, 'You five young guys will battle for four spots in the rotation starting in '67.'"

Hands started and relieved in 1967, when the Cubs won 87 games and started their turnaround.  He went 16-10 in 1968, establishing himself and setting the stage for 1969.

The next year he was part of one of the best rotations in baseball with Jenkins (21-15, 3.21 ERA), Holtzman (17-13, 3.59) and Hands at 20-14, 2.49 ERA.

Fergie Jenkins continued:  "He was the third pitcher.  I opened, Kenny was second and he was third.  He was a hell of a pitcher.  ...Froggy was a good teammate."

In 1968, the Cubs were in first place in mid-August before blowing a 9 1/2 game lead to eventual champion New York Mets.


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