[Ed. – This is a guest post from BN’er Myles Phelps, a swell guy who writes about the Cubs from time to time (and you can find him on Twitter here). Myles wanted to share another idea with us, and I was travelling today, so I figured what the hell. I kid. It’s actually hilarious. This is second humorous/informative list Myles has shared with us, the first being his collection of Cubs surprises and scandals.]

I’m no historian.  But I enjoy the intricacies of history–you know, the little things that no one knows/cares about.  For example, the shortest war in history lasted only 38 minutes.  It was between England and Zanzibar in 1896.  Zanzibar apparently got scared and quit immediately.  Or how about how Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors.  Who knew?  Or how about one of my ultimate favorites: ketchup was sold as medicine in the 1830’s.  Awesome.  These are things people don’t talk about.   Why?  Because they don’t matter.  They really don’t matter.  But it’s fun.

Our beloved Chicago Cubs have such historical intricacies.  My favorite is that of the player.  The Cubs have played over 17 thousand games since becoming the actual Cubs in 1903.  Since then there have been hundreds and hundreds of players to wear the pinstripes.  Don’t you ever wonder about the ones you’ve never heard of?  I have.

Here’s what happened: I went through every roster from 1903 until now and picked my favorite obscure players that I personally have never heard of.  I don’t know why I did this.  It was winter.  And it was cold.  And I missed baseball.

Fine.  I’m a nerd.  Shut up.

I won’t claim to have found the ones that NO ONE has ever heard of, because I’m sure there are those of you out there that know more than me (overachievers).  Some of these guys may actually have been good.  But I literally had never heard their names uttered in my life until now.  So let’s see how much I don’t know.

(These are in order of appearance with the Cubs.  It was a true cop-out for having to pick the best ones in order.)

1. Frank “Wildfire” Schulte (Cubs: 1904-1916; MLB: 1904-1918)

First let me bring up the hilarious fact about these old guys’ nicknames.  You literally could do anything and get a nickname for it.  If you lived back then, you could look up one day and say aloud, “Hey, that bird’s flying pretty fast.”  From thence forth people would call you Hank “Flyin’ Fast Bird” Henderson.  There was no trying when it came to these names.

So how did Ole’ Wildfire get his?  He saw a play called, “Wildfire” one time. That’s it.  Good one, all his teammates.  Way to get creative.

Wildfire must’ve been a hell of a hitter though.  He was the home run champion both in 1910 and 1911.  Pretty impressive huh?  It’s pretty impressive right up until the point that I tell you he won with 10 and 21 home runs, respectively.  Yes, I get it.  The ball was different back then and didn’t travel nearly as far.  Yes I get it, the game was different, blah blah blah.  But 10 home runs…to win the home run record that year?*  As in he beat everyone else.  How boring was baseball back then?  Wow.

But let’s give credit where credit is due.  Wildfire had 107 RBI’s in 1911.  That’s pretty good.  Soriano lead the Cubs last year with 108.

*note: Three players tied for 10 home runs in 1910 including Schulte.

orval overall2. Orval Overall (Cubs: 1906-1910, 1913; MLB 1905-1910, 1913)

Again, I want to emphasize.  These guys aren’t bad players.  Hell some of them were part of the Cubs dynasty (yes there was such a thing here in Chicago).  But I’ve never effing heard of them–this is the point.

I picked Orval for the simple reason that…well, his name is Orval Overall.  Remember how we were discussing nicknames earlier?  This isn’t one of those nicknames.  That’s his actual name.  I can’t decide if I feel sorry for him, or if it’s just badass.

Orval was a great pitcher in own right however.  He had two 20-win seasons.  He also lead the majors in strikeouts with 205 in 1909 ( R.A. Dickey lead last year with 230).  Not bad.

The most interesting fact about Orval, however, is that he is to this day the last pitcher to be on the mound for a Cubs World Series victory.

Man, that’s depressing.  Go Cubs Gooooooo!

3. Grover Cleveland “Slim” Lowdermilk (Cubs: 1912; MLB: 1909-1920)

I can’t make up these names if I tried.  I wonder if people will look back in 80 years at the common names of present day and think they were ridiculous.  I know it’s his last name, but say “Lowdermilk” out loud.  Hear how ridiculous that sounds?  This poor bastard had to say that every time someone introduced him.

Grover’s parents also must’ve really loved fat presidents.  But let’s be honest: who doesn’t?

You may be asking, “Hey, why is his nickname ‘Slim?’”  It’s not what you’re thinking actually.  He was called that because he was skinny.

Oh, that’s what you were thinking?  Anyway…

Grover also played on the Southside for the 1919 White Sox and as a result was around for the darkest event in MLB history: the throwing of the 1919 World Series.

Don’t worry though, historians believe he wasn’t a part of the bribe.

4. George Washington “Zip” Zabel (Cubs: 1913-1915; MLB 1913-1915)

Here we go again with the presidents.  I really don’t know what to tell you.  I wish I had answers.  People in the early 1900’s/late 1800’s really loved their commanders in chief.

What I can tell you is that Zip has the record for most innings pitched in relief in a single game; 18 1/3 to be exact, against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1915. That’s beast mode.

It apparently wasn’t enough to warrant a longer stint in the MLB however.  2 years?  Poor Zip.

5. Eugene Franklin “Bubbles” Hargrave (Cubs: 1913-1915; MLB 1913-1928, 1930)

Bubbles.  Really.  Bubbles?

As always, it’s hilarious why he’s called, “Bubbles.”  It seems that he had a little bit of a stutter – particularly with saying his B’s.  Yeah.  His teammates must’ve been brutal. [Ed. – And he was frequently tormented when he made an appearance on ‘The Wire.’]

Oh, he also won the NL batting title in 1926 when he was with the Reds.  But you’ll never remember that because his nickname was Bubbles.

That’s all for part 1.  You literally learned nothing of value.  Welcome to my life.  Stay tuned for part 2!

  • Stinky Pete

    Most of these names I know from playing Strat-o-Matic. But I did not know the minutae. Fine job. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    • DarthHater

      God bless Strat-O-Matic.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Absolutely loved it, Myles “Cyrus” Phelps.

    • Myles


  • Bob Wininger

    Since we now have Cody Ransom at third we must remember Handsome Ransom Jackson, a third baseman of the early 50s.

  • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

    Hopefully 100 years from now people are talking about that obscure, funny named Rock Shoulders who posted a couple of 4 win seasons early in the century

    great post Myles, enjoyed it

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    Has anyone heard any news about Juan Paniagua??

    • JJ

      I believe its “Juan Paniagua” until such time as the existence of a “Juan Paniagua” is verified.

  • Stevie B

    Ahhhh… The joys of a doomed season in Chicago.

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    What sad is that most of these played the last time the cubs fielded a team of winners…

  • Frank

    Gale Wade; The grandfather of a good friend of mine, who actually met him for the first time in the past 2 years. Played bits of 2 seasons for the Cubs to the tune of a .133/.220/.222 slash line in a grand total of 19 games and 51PA/45AB, but he does have the distinction of being a PTBL in the trade which sent an already near the end of the road Ralph Kiner to the Indians, where Kiner would spend his final season. For what it’s worth, my friend who’s grandfather Gale is is a huge White Sox fan. Boo to that.

    From BBR
    September 30, 1954: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with players to be named later to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later. The Chicago Cubs sent Ralph Kiner (November 16, 1954) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade. The Cleveland Indians sent $60,000 (November 16, 1954) and Gale Wade (November 30, 1954) to the Chicago Cubs to complete the trade.

  • John

    18 1/3 innings of relief? Think anyone complained to the manager about pitch counts?

    • Tim

      Is that the guy in that commercial? Picture looks just like him lol

      • Tim

        The barbasol commercial

    • Jackalope

      Don’t let Dusty Baker read this.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Schulte’s 21 homers was the post 1900 major league record. Another Cub (White Stocking), Ned Williamson, held the all time record with 27, set in the 1880s when the home ballpark had a short outfield fence.

  • BubblesHargrave

    Did someone call my name? Sorry I just woke up.

    • http://www.beautifulnmhomes.com BittnerBites

      Lol, it’s good to have you b-b-b-b-b-back!

  • scorecardpaul

    I enjoyed the article, but…
    These guys are far from obscure non important players. Maybee you should have given a title of fun stuff you might want to read. We still all would have read it because we love the Cubs, and we can never get enough! What bothers me is the thought that Cub players who have been in the world series, not to mention multiple world series, and won, ARE NEVER OBSCURE. The goal is to get to, and win a World Series. We will all worship every player on the next team who wins a world series. I might even say the grounds keepers, or ball boys were a litle extra special. Cub World Series players should never be considered obscure. The Cubs were the first team to repeat the world series. The Cubs were the first team to go to 3 consecutive world Series. The Cubs were the first team to win back to back world series. I may be old, and bad at grammer, but at least I still know what the goal is. I will never ever say that a player who played for the Cubs in the world series is “one of the most obscure- or just random- Cubs of all time”.

    • DarthHater


    • MichaelD

      Beyond even being on the World Series team, they were not all that obscure or unknown. Schulte won an MVP award in 1911 and Overall was one of the best pitchers in the league for a number of years. If anything Overall and the other Cubs pitchers of the time were overrated because the Cubs defense was so good.

    • Myles

      “I won’t claim to have found the ones that NO ONE has ever heard of, because I’m sure there are those of you out there that know more than me (overachievers). Some of these guys may actually have been good. But I literally had never heard their names uttered in my life until now. So let’s see how much I don’t know.”

      • MichiganGoat

        Oh Myles quoted facts are so yesterday 😉

        Great work this will be an enjoyable collection

      • DarthHater

        Fair enough, Myles. And thank you for your efforts. They are appreciated, even if we quibble about minutiae.

  • BubblesHargrave

    Pat is always mentioning weird names on the radio. Like the other day he brought up Stubby Clapp, and Grant Balfor.

    • TWC

      “Stubby Clapp”?


      • BubblesHargrave

        yeah his favorite to make fun of is umpire lance barksdsale

  • Idaho Razorback

    That Barbasol commercial is great. That players pregame meal is chipped beef and scotch.

  • Toby

    Next time you might mention Sam Mejias, who was best known for yelling “We’re all gonna die!” when the plane he was on took off.

    • DarthHater

      Excellent. I think the Cubs should all gather in front of the dugout and yell that before every game.

    • Cleanup poster

      Wasn’t that beavis?

  • Robbo

    “So how did Ole’ Wildfire get his? He saw a play called, “Wildfire” one time. That’s it. Good one, all his teammates. Way to get creative.”

    Hilarious! I can’t wait for part 2, this is some seriously funny stuff. Well done sir!

    • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

      Schulte was a great fan of Lillian Russell, who starred in Wildfire. Legend has it he had an affair with her, but that’s conjecture. Schulte also had a horse which he named Wildfire. He was a drinking buddy of Ring Lardner, who wrote about him in some of his columns for the Daily News, or whatever Chicago paper he was writing for at the time. So all those factors combined to perpetuate his nickname.

  • Tommy

    20 bucks says Spriggs knows every one of these dudes.

    And when I first saw the pic for this article, my first thought was that it was Ty Cobb. It clearly is not Ty Cobb, but initially, I thought it was. Why do I mention this? I have no idea.

  • Mamma Mia

    Grover Lowdermilk lived in my neighborhood and he would come watch me play at the local highschool. One day I sat with him in his porchswing and I asked him about the Blacksox. He was about 70 and he teared up when he said that most people in our town thought he had taken money also. I was very young and did not know how to react. His brother also lived nearby, Louis Lowdermilk, and had pitched for the Cardinals. He was an artist and sold oil paintings. Grover was huge for his time–seemed about 6 ft. 5″ and was such a gentleman. He was basically shunned by the town, Odin Ill.

    • Myles

      I’d actually love to hear more about this sometime. Drop me a line.

    • AB

      this is probably the best post I have ever seen on this site.

  • miggy80

    Good stuff. A co-worker of mine has a almanac of all the MLB players till 2000 or so and it’s fun to just read some times.

  • http://www.beautifulnmhomes.com BittnerBites

    Thanks for the funny post Myles. It made me snort!

  • Spriggs

    Awesome stuff. Let’s not ever forget more recent guys… Like Cuno Barragon and Handsome Ransom Jackson


    Loudermilk’s nickname should have been “Skim,” not “Slim”

  • Pingback: Guest Post: The Most Obscure – or Just Random – Cubs Players of All-Time (Part Two) | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • fromthemitten

    you coulda gone with a trailer park boys reference for bubbles

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