Scott Crull was a very sick 12-year old boy in the summer of 1977. Even though young Scott lived on the south side of Chicago in Calumet City, he was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. His favorite player was Bobby Murcer, who had been acquired by the Cubs prior to the 1977 season from the San Francisco Giants in a deal that sent Bill Madlock to the bay.
Bobby Murcer wasn’t a power hitter by any means, but the rightfielder did have some pop in his bat. Murcer launched 27 home runs during the 1977 season, but fell off the following year only hitting nine home runs during the 1978 Cubs campaign.
The Chicago Cubs were in the thick of the National League East race on Monday August 8, 1977. Philadelphia held a one game lead over the Cubs, while Chicago was a game and a half up on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh is where the Cubs would spend the next couple days in a battle with the buccos.
Unfortunately, the Pirates would take two out of three in Pittsburgh and the Cubs would take even more lumps in the next series against Philadelphia back at Wrigley Field. The Phillies swept the Cubs in a four-game series and would go on to claim the East division crown.
August 8, 1977 was a roller coaster for both the Chicago Cubs and the Crull family. For the Cubs they entered the week in the thick of the division race and in the driver’s seat to control their own destinty.
Things were not as optimistic in the Crull household as 12-year old Scott was sick with a terminal illness. Though his body was dying, his spirit was not. And he looked forward to an exciting week of Cubs baseball beginning with the Cubs and Pirates on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball with legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson calling the play-by-play.
Through a family friend, the Cubs set up a phone call on that Monday afternoon between Bobby Murcer and Scott Crull. The call meant a lot to Scott and the Crull family.
“This was a nice thing of the Cubs to do, and I want to say they don’t know how much it meant to him. This whole experience is hard to cope with. You just can’t write how much it meant.”Mary Crull – 8/9/1977 Chicago Tribune
Pittsburgh jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Then Bobby Murcer stepped to the plate against Bruce Kison in the second inning and hit a solo home run. Murcer did it again in the fourth inning. And then the Cubs scored four runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead. But in the ninth inning, the Pirates rallied and Ed Ott hit a two-run triple to centerfield for a walk-off win.
Things weren’t so great back in Calumet City, either. After Murcer’s second home run a note was sent to ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson and the Cubs radio broadcast team. According to Chicago Tribune reports there was a note at the bottom of the memo stating the boy was dying of cancer, but that part was not meant for broadcast. After sharing the story of Murcer’s pre-game phone call to the boy, Jackson ended the story with: “Scott Crull is dying of bone cancer.”
Scott Crull did not know he was dying. He found out with the rest of the country on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball.
Scott Crull died weeks later, on August 22, 1977, at the age of 12.
Bobby Murcer went on to play six more seasons in Major League Baseball, ending his 17-year big league career in 1983. Murcer passed away in 2008 at the age of 62. Cancer also claimed Bobby Murcer.
One thought on “The Sad Story of Bobby Murcer, Scott Crull, and an ABC Mistake”
Why do I feel if this happened today there would be an immediate lawsuit from the family to everyone involved? Or am I just a cynical human?