May 17, 1979 At Wrigley: One For The MLB Record Books

Forty years ago, the bats exploded over 10 innings in a ridiculously high-scoring match between the Cubs and Phillies

George Ofman
May 16, 2019 - 1:52 pm

Sluggers Mike Schmidt, left, and Dave Kingman (Getty Images archive images)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – On May 17, 1979, the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies played one of the wildest games in Wrigley Field history.

The Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in the second-highest scoring game in the major leagues, surpassed only by the same two teams playing a game in 1922 in the same ballpark (known then as Cubs Park); in the previous, all-time-record game, the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23.

Two participants of the ’79 contest spoke to WBBM Newsradio: Barry Foote, who was the Cubs’ catcher after a trade with Philadelphia that year; and shortstop Larry Bowa, who the Phillies would trade to the Cubs in 1982.

“I never envisioned that kind of score, but I did envision a lot of runs scored because the wind was blowing so hard,” recalled Bowa, still a member of the Phillies as a special assistant to the general manager.

Larry Bowa today, still a member of the Phillies organization. (Getty Images)

The score after one inning was 7-6, in favor of the Phillies. By the 5th inning, the Phillies led 21-9.

Foote recalls thinking: “Can we please get this game over with?”

Yet he drove in the tying run in the 8th inning, making the score 22-22.

Cubs slugger Dave Kingman hit three home runs that day. His Phillies rival, Mike Schmidt, only had two, but it was Schmidt's homer in the 10th that won the game for Philadelphia.

Barry Foote (image courtesy of the former Cub)

Foote – today an executive in the private sector -- is happy to have played in the game. He considers Chicago “the greatest big city in the country.”

Bowa was also glad to have participated and is thankful Philadelphia managed to hold off the Cubs: “It would have been more historic after blowing a 12-run lead if we would have lost the game.”