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Hands, 20-game winner for Cubs in '69, dies

MLB.com

Former Cubs pitcher Bill Hands, who won 20 games for Chicago in 1969, died Thursday in Florida at age 76.

Hands, nicknamed "Froggy," pitched 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, seven of them with the Cubs. He also spent time with the Giants, Twins and Rangers.

Former Cubs pitcher Bill Hands, who won 20 games for Chicago in 1969, died Thursday in Florida at age 76.

Hands, nicknamed "Froggy," pitched 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, seven of them with the Cubs. He also spent time with the Giants, Twins and Rangers.

A New Jersey native, Hands made his MLB debut as a 25-year-old on June 3, 1965, pitching two hitless innings of relief for San Francisco against the Milwaukee Braves, striking out Felipe Alou and ending his outing by getting future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews to ground out.

Hands was traded to the Cubs on Dec. 2 of that year along with catcher Randy Hundley, the first trade Chicago made under manager Leo Durocher. Hands became part of the team's subsequent turnaround.

Hands' best season was 1969, when he went 20-14 with a 2.49 ERA, with a career-high 41 starts, 18 complete games (including three shutouts), 300 innings pitched and 181 strikeouts. The Cubs held first place in the National League East for much of the year before being overtaken by the Miracle Mets.

"I opened, Kenny [Holtzman] was second and he was third," Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins told the Chicago Tribune. "He was a hell of a pitcher. ... Froggy was a good teammate."

Hands finished his career after the 1975 season with a 111-110 record, a 3.35 ERA and 1,128 strikeouts.

After his playing days, Hands lived in Orient, N.Y., on the northeast tip of Long Island, where he owned the Orient Service Station. He continued to root for the Cubs, and last year saw the team win its first World Series since 1908.

"He was ecstatic about that, that's for sure," Hands' golfing partner Bill Fish told The Suffolk Times. "He stuck around long enough to see it. We were all happy about that."

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Chicago Cubs