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On This Date in Sports April 29, 1983: The Rant

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Chicago Cubs' early season struggles continue as they suffer a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. With the loss, the Cubs slipped to a 5-14 as they were booed by the 9,391 fans in attendance. This led their manager Lee Elia to deliver the greatest rant in the history of baseball, if not the history of sports. Elia would eventually be fired as the Cubs finished the season 71-91.

Lee Elia was born July 16, 1937, in Philadelphia. He had spent 11 years playing in the minors after attending the University of Delaware. A shortstop, Elia had two cups of coffee in the majors, playing the Chicago White Sox in 1966 and the Cubs two years later, playing just 95 total games. After retiring as a player, Elia went into coaching when he had some success as a manager in the Phillies organization. Elia got his first chance to coach on the big-league level in 1980 when he was selected to be the bench coach for Manager Dallas Green of the Philadelphia Phillies. Like Elia, Green played baseball at the University of Delaware.

Lee Elia spent two seasons on the bench with Dallas Green and the Phillies, winning the 1980 World Series. After the 1981 season, Green left Philadelphia to become General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. Green would choose his bench coach, Lee Elia, to manage the Cubs as they began raiding the Phillies farm system, most notably trading for Ryne Sandberg. The Cubs struggled in Elia’s first season, posting a record of 73-89 to finish fifth in the National League East.

As the 1983 season began, the Cubs were off to a poor start again, winning just five of their first 19 games. Early in their Friday Afternoon game against the Dodgers, things looked good for the Cubs as Leon Durham, and Ron Cey had RBI singles in the first inning off Bob Welsch to give Chicago an early 2-0 lead. After Mike Marshall homered off Paul Moskau in the fifth, the Cubs quickly answered Moskau, and Ryne Sandberg delivered back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the inning. However, in the sixth, Los Angeles tied the game on a two-run blast by Ken Landreaux. The game would be decided in the bullpen as the Dodgers took the lead in the seventh inning on a Wild Pitch by Lee Smith, scoring Landreaux, who doubled off Bill Campbell to begin the inning. Meanwhile, Alejandro Pena allowed just two hits in three innings to earn the win.

Following the game, Lee Elia went on a three-minute rant while being interviewed by the press. Elia’s profanity-laced tirade viciously attacked the fans, saying they could kiss his ass. He took personal shots at the fans who attended day baseball, saying they did not know what it was like to have a job while attempting to protect his team. The rant would be the most memorable moment of Lee Elia’s career. His tenure in Chicago would come o an end before the season was over, as he was fired on August 22nd, with a 54-69 record. The Cubs would finish the season under Charlie Fox and again finished fifth with a record of 71-91.

Lee Elia would return to the Phillies organization and got a second chance to manage in the majors in 1987. However, his tenure in Philadelphia lasted just as long as his tenure with the Cubs as he was fired after the 1988 season. Elia would spend the next 20 years in baseball, a minor league manager, front office advisor, and coach on several other teams, but never again managed in the majors.