Pittsfield Cubs

From BR Bullpen

In 1985 the Pittsfield Cubs joined the Eastern League, as a Chicago Cubs farm club from Pittsfield, MA. On Opening Day, the team was featured on the Today TV show. They were 7th of 8 teams in attendance (60,585) and went 59-79, just half a game ahead of last, under manager Tom Spencer. SS Mike Brumley (.276/~.376/.406, 29 SB, 74 BB) led the league with 14 triples and was the club's lone All-Star. 1B-OF Gary Varsho (.242/~.308/.325) tied for the EL lead with 40 steals. Gary Parmenter (6-5, 2.44, 81 hits in 122 IP, 2nd in the league in ERA) and Johnny Abrego (6-6, 2.76, 119 H in 176 IP and sixth in ERA) both pitched no-hitters but the best career went to Jamie Moyer (7-6, 3.72, 99 hits in 97 IP).

Attendance remained poor in 1986 (47,709, 7th place) but Spencer's club went 76-64, just 3 games behind the first-place Reading Phillies before falling in the playoffs. The team led the league in ERA (3.22) had three All-Stars on offense: first baseman Phil Stephenson (.272/.437/.482, the league leader with 129 walks and first in OBP as well), shortstop Paul Noce (.307/~.367/.490, second in the league in batting average behind Jim Olander's .325 and the second straight Pittsfield shortstop to lead the league in triples with 14. He made the All-Star team at DH as Jay Bell of Waterbury made it at SS) and outfielder Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro was the league's player of the year and voted as the top prospect by league managers, earning him a call-up to the majors late in the season. Palmeiro hit .306/~.373/.442, was third in average and first in RBI (95), total bases (225) and hits (156). OF Darrin Jackson (.267/~.323/.419) led the club with 15 homers. Moyer was 3-1 with a 0.88 ERA in 6 starts and Greg Maddux 4-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 8 starts as the greatest player ever to emerge from the Pittsfield Cubs. Troy Chestnut (9-7, 3.15) was 7th in the EL in ERA after leading the league in losses a year earlier and closer Mike Capel went 4-4 with 13 saves and a 1.88 ERA.

Pittsfield's best season was 1987. The Cubs went 87-51, eleven games better than anyone else (though their attendance of 51,551 was worst in the league by over 25,000) but they were stunned in the playoffs by the Vermont Reds, who took 3 of 4 games from Jim Essian's club. Pittsfield led the league with 740 runs and were second-best in pitching/defense with 599 runs allowed. The Cubs again had the league's MVP and top prospect - this time it was 1B Mark Grace (.333/~.397/.479), the league leader in RBI (101) and fifth in average. The #2 prospect was their other All-Star, OF Dwight Smith (.337/~.416/.542), who led the league in runs (111), total bases (270) and steals (60) and missed the slugging lead by 3 points. Smith also was second in batting average. Smith reached double digits in doubles, triples and homers, as did outfield mate Rolando Roomes (.308/~.361/.519, 100 runs, 21 homers, 32 steals, a league-high 135 Ks, second in the league in home runs and triples {13}), who was voted the #8 prospect. Also chipping in were the third outfielder, Doug Dascenzo (.306/~.396/.413, 36 SB) and Hector Villanueva (.274/~.346/.460). Dave Masters (12-3, 3.73) was 7th in the EL in ERA and named the #10 prospect and Leonard Damian (13-9, 3.21) was fifth in ERA.

Essian's club again finished last in attendance (53,121) in 1988 though they again fielded a fine team, going 75-63-2 for third place in the EL. Again they fell in the playoffs to Vermont. The team led the league with a 2.95 ERA, with Kris Roth (6-5, 2.90) and Jackie Davidson (10-9, 2.99) 8th and 9th in the league in ERA, but just average for the team. The Cubs' 1987 #1 draft pick, Mike Harkey went 9-2 with a 1.37 ERA and was promoted to AAA - he was voted the #2 prospect in the league. Jeff Hirsch (2-3, 2.43), Parmenter (4-1, 2.18), Joe Kraemer (5-5, 2.75), Laddie Renfroe (9-4, 1 Sv, 1.96), Mark Leonette (8-4, 2.30 in 59 games) and All-Star Dean Wilkins (5-7, 26 Sv, 1.63) all had fine years on the hill. The club had two top prospects in the field - All-Star OF Jerome Walton (the #5 prospect in the EL hit .331/~.401/.425 and won the batting title) and C Joe Girardi (the #8 prospect hit .272/~.332/.375). The third All-Star was OF-2B Bryan House, who made the All-Star team as a utility man with a .316/~.402/.437 year. Pittsfield stole 248 bases in 140 games that year, with OF Ced Landrum swiping 69, utility infielder Rich Amaral 54 in 59 tries, Walton 42 and House 34. The club also had the walk leader, 1B Villanueva. In his second year at Pittsfield, Hector hit .316/.408/.452 with a team-high 10 homers. He drew 71 walks, was third in the EL in average and led the loop in OBP.

In 1989 the club moved to Williamsport, PA and became the Williamsport Bills. Pittsfield got a new team in the more size-appropriate New York-Penn League with the Pittsfield Mets. In just 4 years in AA, the Pittsfield Cubs had been home to Mark Grace, Rafael Palmeiro and Greg Maddux among many other future big-leaguers.

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Pitching Coach
1985 59-79 7th Tom Spencer
1986 76-64 3rd Tom Spencer Lost in 1st round Dick Pole
1987 87-51 1st Jim Essian Lost in 1st round Jim Wright
1988 75-63 3rd Jim Essian Lost in 1st round Grant Jackson