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Monday, October 18, 2021

Former Cubs pitcher Chuck Hartenstein has passed away

Those of us of “a certain age” remember Chuck Hartenstein, a capable reliever for the Cubs from 1966-68. He was nicknamed “Twiggy” for his tall, thin build; some of you might remember a British actress named Lesley Hornby from around the same time, also given that nickname for being tall and slim.

Hartenstein passed away October 2 in Texas. He was 79.

I’m posting this mostly to show yet another example of how Leo Durocher wound up ruining the Cubs after he brought them out of a 20-year slumber in 1967.

Hartenstein, signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1964 — the year before the draft was instituted — debuted briefly for them in 1965, but in just one game as a pinch-runner. He spent most of 1966 in the minor leagues but pitched in five games in the majors late in the season.

It was in 1967 that “Twiggy” Hartenstein was effective as a Cubs reliever and was tagged with that nickname, reportedly by Billy Williams, according to Hartenstein’s SABR biography written by Bill Nowlin:

Jerome Holtzman said it was “The Monster” Dick Radatz who “hung the name on him.” But it was actually Billy Williams who had bestowed it, Hartenstein said in his 2018 interview. “His locker was next to me. I got a save or something that day and there is a bunch of writers gathered around the locker and Billy looks at me and says, ‘Twiggy!’ It caught on with the writers.”

Hartenstein posted a 3.08 ERA and 1.247 WHIP In 1967 and had 10 saves, though the save would not become an official stat until two years later. He had a funky sidearm motion and was a sinkerballer, in an era when guys like that could record lots of outs on ground balls. He struck out only 20 in 73 innings — imagine a reliever being effective that way today.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2021 at 12:09 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries

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   1. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 18, 2021 at 12:29 AM (#6047094)
That's a good bio/obit.

Was Leo the last of the hard-ass my way/highway managers, who could dictate the roster to the front office?
   2. sanny manguillen Posted: October 18, 2021 at 09:36 AM (#6047115)
Hartenstein pitched for six years in the PCL at the end of his career, finally got his last shot at age 35, as an original Blue Jay.

His Sabr bio betrays a wry sense of humor: "Physically I’m deteriorating, but my mind is still as dull as ever."

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