Friday, December 2, 2011

DAHOF Top 100 -- #97 Bill Madlock

This is a series of posts featuring my favorite top 100 ballplayers of all-time. This is not my ranking of the best ever, it is my list of guys I've admired contributing to my love of the game.

I grew up across Lake Michigan from the city of Chicago. My summer days were filled voices of Jack Brickhouse and Lou Boudreau calling the Cubs and nights spent listening to Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall cheer and complain about the White Sox. I don't remember the exact date, but cable television was not available in my hometown until around 1981. Before that date we listened to baseball on the radio or watched TV the old fashioned way, manipulating old rabbit ear antennas and praying for the best.

Most of the time, the Cubs were not a very good team. It was easy for me not turn into a fan. The old stars like Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Fergie Jenkins were gone poorly replaced by guys like Mick Kelleher, Jose Cardenal, and Rick Reuschel. One of the first bright spots I can remember about the mid-70s Cubs was the solid bat of Bill Madlock.

Madlock came to the Cubs from the Rangers in the Fergie Jenkins trade. He immediately replaced the departed Ron Santo at third base. While he wasn't a great fielder, he could certainly hit. He won the National League batting title playing day games at Wrigley Field in 1975 & 1976. Madlock is one of only three right-handed hitters to have won multiple National League batting titles since 1960 (Roberto Clemente won four and Tommy Davis has two).

On July 26, 1975 he went 6-for-6 during the Cubs’ 8-9 10 inning loss to the Mets. Earlier that month, he represented the Cubs in the first of three career All-Star games.  He was named Co-MVP (with Jon Matlack) after he drove in 2 ninth inning runs off of his future teammate, Goose Gossage.

After the 1976 season, Madlock was sent packing to San Francisco in a deal that brought Bobby Murcer to the Cubs. He continued to hit. In June of 1979 the Pirates made a trade that brought him to Pittsburgh, were he helped "The Family" win the World Series. He continued to hit. He won another two batting titles in 1981 & 1983, having just missed out on the '82 crown.

Bill Madlock was the first player to win multiple batting titles with two different teams. He was was the last team captain the Pittsburgh Pirates have had, being named to the position after Willie Stargell retired in 1982.


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