Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

On Ferguson Jenkins' birthday AND Friday the 13th, let's revisit the Cubs' 'Black Cat Game'

Ferguson Jenkins is the only Canadian in the Hall of Fame and a Cubs legend. His No. 31 is co-retired (along with Greg Maddux) on the North Side, where he won a Cy Young in 1971 and led the 1969 team that was Chicago's only 90-game winner between 1946 and 1983.

Jenkins' birthday falls on December 13, which means he turns 71 today -- on Friday the 13th. Why is that notable? During that '69 campaign, the right-hander and his Cubs teammates fell victim to one of the most classically unlucky omens in baseball history.

On September 9, 1969, Jenkins was on the hill for a crucial late-season game against the Mets, who at the time were just 1 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the newly-created NL East. New York had already won the first contest in the two-game series, and Chicago was trying to avoid losing their sixth in a row. Things were already looking bleak for the Cubs, and then this happened:


As Jenkins said in the interview above, the black cat could have headed to the Mets dugout -- but it didn't. It went right for the Cubs, and stared into their dugout for a good 10 seconds. Chicago, which had been in first place all season, ended up losing 18 of their 27 games in September and October and failed to qualify for postseason play.

A lot of factors contributed to the collapse -- manager Leo Durocher's reluctance to give position players days off has often been cited -- but the black cat became another chapter in the Cubs' history of bad fortune.