There is a famous game in Cubs history known as “The Sandberg Game” because of multiple dramatics by Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. It’s the signature win of the 1984 season, when the team won the NL East title. That it came against the Cardinals didn’t hurt its historical significance either.
Less known, but perhaps just as good of a game was the one which took place on April 22 1980 between those same teams. But the 1980 Cubs weren’t particularly memorable. They were just mediocre. And “The Foote Game” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
This was bonkers baseball at its finest, a game played in 22-mile-per-hour winds. That shortstop Ivan DeJesus, he of 21 home runs in more than 4,600 at-bats hit for the cycle within five innings was strange. What Barry Foote did may have been stranger.
Foote had two good seasons as a hitter. With the 1974 Expos, he hit .262 with 11 home runs, but was soon displaced behind the plate by Gary Carter. In 1979, he hit .254 with 16 home runs for the Cubs. In Foote’s eight other seasons, he wasn’t much of a hitter. His career batting average was .230 and he was kept around much more for his glove and arm than anything else. But on this day, he could do no wrong.
First he singled in a run in the second inning, cutting a 3-1 Cardinals lead to 3-2. Then, he doubled in two more runs in the third inning to tie the game, 6-6. The Cardinals went ahead 12-6, but in these conditions, no lead was safe. The Cubs cut the lead to 12-11 by the eighth and Foote tied it with a home run.
The Cardinals didn’t score in the top of the ninth, with Foote throwing out Garry Templeton trying to steal second base. The only way to get Foote up in the bottom of the inning was to load the bases with two outs. Sure enough, that’s what happened. And on the first pitch, Foote obliged, clubbing a grand slam against Cardinals reliever Mark Littell.
Foote was greeted at home plate with a kiss on the helmet from none other than Bill Buckner.
Final score, Cubs 16, Cardinals 12.
Barry Foote Minutiae
Foote finished with eight RBIs. It would be 22 years before another Cubs player would drive in at least eight (Sammy Sosa had nine in 2002).