Glen Hobbie

A few days ago, our friend Angela from Cardinals Diamond Diaries wrote a great story about her grandfather attending the Cardinals bloggers event in April.  In it, she refers to him lovingly as a “lost soul” because he is a Cubs fan deep in the heart of Cardinals country.  I regret not getting a chance to spend more time with him because he reminded me a lot of my neighbor in St. Louis, another “lost soul” Cubs fan. I’m sure I would have learned a lot.

Another “Lost Soul”

This story gets even more interesting, but we have to rewind about 18 hours – to the social get together the night before.   When I met Angela for the first time, she had this photo of a Cubs pitcher that she had gotten from her Grandfather.  That seemed a rather odd thing to bring to a Cardinals event, until I saw the signature, and it said Glen Hobbie.

Who is Glen Hobbie ?   I’m glad you asked.

Glen Hobbie

Glen Hobbie was a right handed pitcher that grew up in Southern Illinois.  He came into baseball rather late, and as such more more of a natural talent than one that had been developed over time.  Somehow, that made his climb to the major leagues that much more impressive.

Hobbie was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1955 and had his first taste of the major leagues as a September callup in 1957.  Not the best debut in the history of the game, but those two games and a good spring training in 1958 would earn him a spot on the Cubs roster.   He would begin the season in the starting rotation, eventually moving to the bullpen in long relief.   Hobbie would return to the rotation in 1959, and become a fixture until shoulder troubles limited his effectiveness later in his career.

April 21, 1959

This was the third start of the season for Hobbie, and he would be facing the St. Louis Cardinals, at Wrigley Field.  Under Solly Hemus, the Cardinals had gotten off to a horrible start to the season, and were already in 8th place.   The Cubs were hanging around .500, as they would for most of the season.

Hobbie would face Gary Blaylock, a 27 year old rookie right-hander for the Cardinals.   This would be Blaylock’s only season in the big leagues, and this would be one of his finest performances.   He had the misfortune of doing that on a day that Glen Hobbie nearly wrote his name in the record books.

Both pitchers were sharp early.   If not for a walk and the inability of the Cardinals to turn an inning ending double play in the second inning, this game might still be going on to this very day.   That one run that Blaylock allowed would be the only one scored by either team.

But it was even better than that.

When Stan Musial came up to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning, Hobbie had retired all twenty batters before him.  Unfortunately for Hobbie, Musial was still one of the best hitters in the game, and Stan would double off him.   That would be the only hit that Hobbie would allow in the game.   Tiring in the ninth, he would allow two additional base runners on a walk and hit batsman, but that was it.   For an hour and a half, Hobbie was throwing nothing but zeros, and took a perfect game into the seventh inning.

This was not the only time Hobbie would flirt with immortality, but the no-hitter never did happen for the young right-hander.  Of his 2-hitters, the most entertaining would come on June 14, 1960 against the Milwaukee Braves.   As with the previous game against the Cardinals, he would take take his no hitter deep into the game.   Del Crandall would break it up with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning.  Eddie Mathews would get the other hit in the ninth, also a solo home run.

Glen Hobbie would win 16 games that year, duplicating his win total from the year before.   Looking a bit deeper into his pitching statistics, more run support might have flipped that 16-20 record around.  Hobbie was pitching much better than his record indicated.

A lower back injury in 1960 derailed what looked like a very promising career.   Because the pain affected him late in his delivery, he compensated by changing his pitching motion.  That put additional strain on his shoulder, robbing his fastball of some much needed velocity.   The result was a 7-13 record in 1961, and the beginning of shoulder troubles that would stay with him for the rest of his career.

A Cardinal Hero ?

A week before the now infamous Lou Brock/Ernie Broglio trade, the Cardinals and Cubs swapped a pair of pitchers.   What Cardinals fans didn’t know at the time was that the starting rotation was starting to break down.   There were some concerns about both Ray Washburn and Ernie Broglio.   Philadelphia was starting to separate themselves from the pack in the National League, and the Cardinals needed both starters if they were to stay close.  Johnny Keane had already tried Roger Craig in the rotation, and it had been less than satisfactory.

So general manager, Bing Devine, worked a deal with Chicago, sending veteran reliever Lew Burdette to the Cubs for Glen Hobbie.  Devine hoped there was still a few more months on that right shoulder of his.

Hobbie’s first start as a Cardinals would come on June 5, against the Cincinnati Reds.  Hobbie was brilliant, pitching into the eighth inning, leaving with a 4-1 lead.  In addition to throwing a gem, he also contributed to the offense.  In his first at-bat as a Cardinal, he hit a Bob Purkey pitch over the outfield wall for a home run.   The blast caught Harry Caray unprepared, and he nearly choked while trying to get out his traditional “there’s a drive, way back, it might be, it could be, it is, a home run” call.

A late meltdown by the bullpen would deny Hobbie his first Cardinals victory.   That would come five days later, in the second game of a double header against the San Francisco Giants.   At this point in the season, the Giants were still in the hunt for pennant and were playing well.   They had just defeated Bob Gibson in the first game, and looked optimistically at the second game for the sweep.  Hobbie had a different idea.

It did not look promising in the beginning.   A pair of singles in the first inning lead to an early Giants run.  After walking Orlando Cepeda with two outs, Hobbie would retire 25 of the next 26 batters he faced.   The only base runner he would allow after that Cepeda walk was a walk to Jim Ray Hart to start the fifth inning.   That’s right, Hobbie nearly threw a no-hitter in reverse.

It was an amazing pitching performance.  When you consider that the Cardinals finished the 1964 season one game ahead of the Phillies and Reds, this two hitter was just as important as any of Ray Sadecki’s 20 wins, or Bob Gibson’s 18 wins.

Sadly, that would be Hobbie’s only victory as a Cardinal.  His shoulder troubles would come back and he would be moved to the bullpen, where he would struggle.   As the season wore on, Hobbie would end up back in Jacksonville (AAA), trying to rehabilitate his ailing shoulder.   He would be traded to the Detroit Tigers after the 1964 season in a minor league deal, but Hobbie would not make it back to the major leagues.   His career was over at age 28.

Glen Hobbie is remembered fondly by Cubs fans of the late 1950’s and early 60’s.   Thanks to Angela’s grandfather, we can now remember him as a Cardinals hero.   If not for that win against the San Francisco Giants, the Phillies or Reds might have won the National League pennant.  Thanks Glen, we appreciate what you did in 1964 as a Cardinal.

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11 Responses to Glen Hobbie

  1. Erika Lynn says:

    Great story. Smiled to see the names Del Crandall and Eddie Mathews in there! The small world of baseball continues to amaze me.


    • Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

      I read a bunch of interviews and other biographical information about his time with the Cubs to fill in some gaps. He noted that game, and one other against Pittsburgh. When I looked more into the Milwaukee game and saw that the only two hits were Mathews and Crandall, I knew I had to weave that in somehow.

      I’ve always liked stories about guys like Hobbie, who help a team do something special, but go largely unnoticed.


  2. Wish I had seen this when you wrote it. I grew up in Witt, IL, Glen’s hometown. He was six years older than me, so he was one of the older guys around. He was a great basketball player, as well as baseball. I helped him deliver papers a few times, and later hitch-hiked to a couple of baseball games with him (when he played in nearby Nokomis, on their American Legion team. His younger brother David was in my class, and we played basketball and baseball all through school — Glen came to our games and was very supportive. Glen retired to Vandalia, IL, where he owns land on which he hunts and fishes.
    When he pitched ifor the Cubs n St. Louis, many hometwon people went — the Cardinal fans would root for him until he left the game, then revert back to rooting for the Cardinals.
    Glen was, and is a good guy. Never forgot where he came from.
    John Lowe III


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  4. Steve says:

    Nice article! My Dad’s family is from Witt, so I have heard about Glen since I was a child.


  5. Glen K Hobbie says:

    Sad to say that Glen passed away on AUgust 9, 2013. I ran across this article and thought it was one of the best written pieces I had ever seen on his baseball career. Thanks so much for writing it. I will share it with his wife.


  6. Debbie Hobbie says:

    Sadly, Glen passed away Friday, August 9th after a long illness.


  7. Jeff Logullo says:

    “Just got a note from Glen Hobbie’s son. Glen has passed away.”

    I sat in the car, staring at the message on my phone. “Aw man… thanks for the update” I replied. Bob knew I’d appreciate hearing the news.

    After a moment, I thumbed my phone, pulling up the app that displayed my home voice messages. There! “Glen Hobbie – 5/21/11” Back when I’d read Bob’s story about Glen, I sat back and wondered about this man and his career. I smiled at how technology had smiled upon our generation, connecting us in all sorts of ways.

    “I wonder where he lived after he retired…” The story said he grew up in Southern Illinois — so did I! My curiosity piqued, I started to do a little digging.

    In a matter of moments, I was staring at a phone number. “Glen Hobbie–huh. I’ll be.” Quickly a tiny debate broke out in my head: “You really ought to call.” “No way! Give the man his privacy!” “But, but, how cool it would be to tell him about this blog posting! He’d love it! I think.”

    So: I called. Talked to his wife, then to Glen. “You don’t know me, and really, I have no idea why I’m calling… except that I just read this story about you and your time as a Cardinal…”

    “Whoa–I was a Cub!” and he and I both laughed as I started explaining the whole story: Cardinal fans, baseball blog, a tribute to a young man who pitched some great games. And who had now been “immortalized” on the web.

    “Do you get on the internet much?” I asked. “No, but my son could probably find it for me,” he replied.

    “Tell you what: how about if I send you a copy in the mail?”

    And that’s how I got a voice message from Glen Hobbie. Just a short thank-you for sending him the article, on behalf of all the readers of “On the Outside Corner.” Somehow I never could bring myself to erase the message.

    Thanks, Bob, for bringing us Glen’s story. I know he considered himself a Cub, but I think he’s having a good smile at the Cards fans who may remember his short but interesting days as a Redbird.


  8. John Lowe III says:

    Sad to hear Glen passed. As I noted a couple of years ago, I knew him well and thought highly of him. I called him about 10 days before he passed, to ask if it would be ok to nomnate him for an Outstanding Alumni Award from our high school. He did not sound good, and just said he wasn’t in shape for something like that. I knew he had been sick, but had heard he was doing better, so it was disconcerting to discover it was not going well again.
    I appreciate the thorough accounting above, of his time with the Cardinals. I remember listening to them, especially the one where Stan the Man broke up the no-hitter. Harry Caray always referred to him as, “Glen Hobbie, from nearby Witt, Illinois.” Being 70 miles from St. Louis, we thought that was a bit of a stretch, but still enjoyed the attention. As a Cub, Glen once hit two homeruns against the Cardinals — after that, Harry mentioned it just about every time Glen came to bat.
    Best wishes to Glen’s family.


  9. Jim Storm says:

    My parents grew up in Witt with Glen and I was fortunate enough to grow up his neighbor after his baseball years were over. I hardly remember a summer day without him teaching his son Glen to play ball, more specifically pitch and my mom and dad never tired of telling stories about his days as a pitcher in the bigs. Glen never gave up his love for the game and would talk baseball as long as you wanted to listen if you were fortunate enough to catch him at the Moose Club in Hillsboro where he would frequently have lunch.

    As many can say, I’m lucky to have known him.


  10. Freddie Immke says:

    We were all lucky to know Glen We first meant him at the Cubs Spring Training in Mesa Arizona
    We stayed at the same motel and enjoyed lots of good times with him and Sharon. We kept in touch by phone and last talked right after we got home this past Spring. R.I P. dear friend


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