Bearing down on Benito Santiago’s rookie record of 34 consecutive games with a hit, Jerome Walton’s hitting streak came to an end after 30 games.
On Monday, August 21 vs. the Reds at Wrigley Field Walton went a combined 0-for-4 against Ron Robinson, Rob Dibble & John Franco with the Cubs losing 6-5 in 10 innings.
Not surprisingly, however, Walton managed a least one hit through his next five games with an at-bat before going 0-for-4 against the Astros eight days later.
Jerome Walton finished his rookie season with 46 RBI (a career-high). Five came during an August stretch as he ran his hitting streak to 25-games.
Walton twice drove in catcher Joe Girardi during a wild 16-13 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field (the most runs the Cubs allowed in a single game all season).
The following day Jerome’s 2-out, 2-run single was part of a six-run fifth inning, and 9-2 win against Philadelphia.
Two games later Walton smashed a 2-out double down the left field line scoring Domingo Ramos to tie the Phillies 2-2 in the fifth, but the Cubs eventually lost 5-3.
However, Jerome’s biggest hit during this run didn’t drive in a single run.
On August 5, 1989, Jerome Walton’s ninth inning single to right field scored Shawon Dunston as the go-ahead run in a 4-2 come-from-behind victory at Pittsburgh.
The thrilling win tied Chicago (63-47) with Montreal atop the NL East Division.
Despite a heart-breaking 5-4 setback in 18 innings the following day vs. the Barry Bonds led Pirates, the Cubs returned to Wrigley Field and promptly swept the Expos three games to none.
It was a signature series win for the North Siders, turning its first place tie into a comfortable 3.0 games lead in the division. As it turns out, the Cubs never relinquished its top spot for the remainder of the regular season.
Walton, meanwhile, was swinging a red-hot bat during this five game stretch hitting at a .458 clip (11-for-24), including a 5-for-12 performance against Montreal pitching, all while running his hitting streak to 20-games.
At the start of Jerome Walton’s 30-game hitting streak on July 21, 1989, the Cubs trailed Montreal by 3.0 games and the Mets by a half game in the NL East Division.
Chicago went (8-2) over its next 10 games jumping New York in the standings and trimming Montreal’s lead to 2.0 games with Walton setting the pace from the leadoff position hitting .318 (14-for-44) over the stretch.
Although Jerome was hitting the ball to all fields, he was also showing a knack for beating out infield grounders, including a bunt single and two infield hits.
Walton finished the regular season reaching 18 times on bunt attempts and 30 times on infield hits, a huge contributing factor to his season ending .293 batting average–good for 7th best in the NL.
The trade of OF Dave Martinez to Montreal the previous July left the Cubs without a true center fielder heading into spring training in 1989.
It didn’t take long for the dynamic speed of young prospect Jerome Walton to emerge from the competition. Walton’s terrific outfield range quickly caught the eye of Cubs manager, Don Zimmer, who settled on Walton as his Opening Day center fielder.
Despite committing an error on the first ball hit to him on Opening Day, Walton proved Zimmer’s decision wise over the long haul.
It was 46 games later before Walton made his second defensive miscue, and he booted just one more throughout his final 69 regular season games played.
The regularity at which Walton showed flashes of brilliance in center field made him of Gold Glove consideration.
Had it not been for a mid season injury that limited his season to 116 games, Walton may have earned more hardware than his Rookie of the Year Award.
In 1989 Jerome Walton burst onto the scene winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and helping the Cubs to the NL East title.
His thrilling 30-game hitting streak from July 21st to August 20th culminated a sensational season for the 23-year-old.
During the next several weeks I’ll recap Walton’s 30-game hitting streak that sparked the Cubs from a 2.5 games deficit in the division to a 2.5 game lead!