COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – At the time, it seemed like a minor April trade between two teams looking for some help on the mound.But 25 years later, the Chicago Cubs could look back and know a Hall of Fame career was born that day.
On April 21, 1966, the Philadelphia Phillies shipped promising right-hander Ferguson Jenkins – along with first baseman John Herrnstein and outfielder Adolpho Phillips – to the Chicago Cubs for veteran hurlers Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson. Jenkins, who was 2-1 for the Phillies in his rookie season of 1965, went 6-8 in 60 games with the Cubs during the rest of 1966 as a long reliever and spot starter. Jackson, meanwhile, went 15-13 with the Phillies and Buhl matched Jenkins’ 6-8 record in Philadelphia.But within two seasons, both Buhl and Jackson were out of baseball. Jenkins, meanwhile, won 20 games for the first time in 1967 – the first of six straight 20-win seasons with the Cubs.“My game plan is simple: I throw strikes and make ‘em hit the ball,” Jenkins said. “When I can do that, I’m on my way to a winning season.”Jenkins had lots of those, finishing his 19-year big league career with a record of 284-226 with a 3.34 earned-run average. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 1971 with a 24-13 record, and three years later was the American League Cy Young runner-up with an AL-leading 25 victories with the Texas Rangers.Jenkins also pitched for the Red Sox before ending his career with a two-year return to the Cubs in 1983-84. He led his league in complete games four times, walks per nine innings pitched five times and strikeouts to walks ratio five times.The Chatham, Ontario, Canada, native was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991 in his third year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum