I truly believed when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016 we'd find world peace, discover a cure for cancer, money would grow on trees, and we could eat what we wanted without any consequences. I really did.
The Chicago Cubs became "official" in 1903 and their first game at the holy land of ball parks, Wrigley Field, was in 1916. They won the World Series in 1907, 1908, and 2016. That is an amazing 108 years between titles. If a person was born in 1909, one year too late, they would have to live 106 years to see the Cubs win it all. How many people do you know that are 106?
Over the course of the Cubs' career, they retired 7 numbers, never had a pitcher throw a perfect game, and their all time record is 10,729-10,207. But throughout their history as "The Lovable Losers," all of the horrors of seasons past were erased when Joe Maddon managed the 2016 Cubs to a World Series Championship. In typical Cubs style, it took a rain delay, numerous lead changes, and culminated with Miguel Montero's game winning single to left for an 8-7 win over the Indians in 10 innings. Mike Montgomery recorded his first ever save to close it out.
As for this list, we will be focusing on a mixture of former Cubs players who were either great with the club or disappointments but the common denominator is that you may have forgotten these guys played for the Cubs.
15 Nomar Garciaparra
Believe it or not, there was actually a time where people would argue whether Derek Jeter or Nomar Garciaparra was the better player. The Boston Red Sox sure enjoyed having him through his prime, but the Sox made a three-team trade with the Cubs that landed the Cubs Nomar. His play would dip very quickly in Chicago and he would only play with the Cubs for two years, before moving on to Los Angeles. Since retirement, Garciaparra has been announced as a part-investor in the coming expansion MLS team Los Angeles F.C. He has also been inducted into the Red Sox hall of fame, but don't expect him to be enshrined at Wrigley any time soon.
14 Leon Durham
"The Bull" played for the Cubbies from 1981-1988 and was a two time All Star who played 1st base and left field. He hit over 20 homers 4 times, and was a solid offensive player who also stole some bases. He became part of the "Lovable Losers" lore during the 1984 NLCS vs. the Padres, when with a trip to the World Series on the line, pinch hitter Tim Flannery's grounder rolled through Durham's legs for an error that "cost" them the series. It became known as "The Gatorade Glove Play" because between innings, Gatorade was spilled on his glove. It was another moment in a long history of "strangeness" where the club's futility would continue.
After retiring, Durham coached the Toledo Mud Hens for 17 years, but he's back in the "bigs" as a coach with the Detroit Tigers.
13 Shawon Dunston
Dunston was a shortstop, 3rd baseman, and the first New Yorker to be taken first overall (by the Cubs), in the 1982 draft. He was a part of the 80's teams that gave the Cubs hope to win the world series, especially in 1989, when he became an All- Star and was a key contributor to their march to the NL East Division title. He batted .278, hit 20 doubles, 6 triples, 9 homers, and stole 19 bases. But like many of the Cubs of that era, Dunston seemed to have all the tools but couldn't put it together. He had a great arm and range in the field, speed, and a sweet cut, but injuries and errors interfered with his potential. He is still in baseball, and for the past 8 seasons he's been with the Giants, studying replay video as a special assistant.
12 Jody Davis
Any Cub fan worth his weight knows someone who knows the name of this fan favorite who caught for the Cubs between 1981- 1988. He was the Cubs starting catcher from day 1, and was a solid offensive catcher. As just a sophomore, he batted .271, hit 24 homers, and knocked in 84. In 1984, the big "righty" had 94 RBI, made his first All-Star appearance, and was a key piece of that National League East winning team. He also had a monster playoff despite the nightmare in San Diego. His defense, which was spotty during those years, started to improve and in 1986 he led National League catchers in throwing out base stealers. He won a gold glove, was an All-Star, and his 100 assists put him in elite company with some of the best catchers in history such as Johnny Bench and Tony Pena.
After he hung 'em up, Jody managed in the Canadian League and for the Cubbies minor League teams. Currently, he is a hitting coach for the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Padres AAA farm team.
11 Mark Grace
Grace also played on that "so close" era with the Cubs from 1988- 2000. He was a cool and consistent hitter and fielder, with more hits, doubles, and sac flies than any player in the 90s. He won 4 Gold Gloves, was a 3 time All- Star, and hit for the cycle in 1993. Grace's Cubs won the NL Eastern Division title in 1989, the NL Wild Card in 1998, but both years failed to reach the World Series. Yet that success is all a player needs to be a Cub's hero. In 2003, Grace retired as a Diamondback, started broadcasting, and while in Chicago had the time honored privilege to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. His career in the booth ended in 2012, at about the time he plead guilty to driving under the influence. He was sentenced to four months, supervised probation, and an interlock device was installed in his car. He seemed to clean up and though Arizona promoted him to hitting coach, he was terminated after 2016.
10 Gary Matthews
The "Sarge" was one of the most fan friendly and noticeable players for the 5 teams he played for in his 16 year career. He played left field, and at bat his hands and bat actively circled while he waited for his pitch. He had a fierce cut. and was another member of that incredibly loveable Cubs' National League team in 1984. That year he hit .291 with 14 homers, 82 RBI, 17 stolen bases, scored 101 runs, and had a career high .410 OBP.
After retiring in 1987, "Sarge" worked as a hitting coach for the Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubas and in broadcasting for those same Jays, and the Phillies. "Sarge" is still employed by the Phillies as a color commentator, another team with fans that adored the affable man.
9 Luis Salazar
Salazar was one of those guys who joined a team in need, filled that need for a few years, and then slowly fell off his game until he was needed again. It started with the Tigers when Alan Trammell went down in 1988, and the jack of all trades played shortstop to help them in a pennant race. The man who could play anywhere and with style, came to the Cubs at the deadline in 1989 to solidify their infield and play 3rd base. Salazar fit right in and contributed to the Cubs by hitting .326 and continuing their run to the division title. He'd stick with the Cubs as their 3rd baseman for the next few years and hit 31 homers for 110 RBIs in 316 games.
He also stayed in baseball as a hitting coach in the minors, was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame, and was hired by the Braves' minor League Lynchburg Hillcats.
8 Rick Sutcliffe
In Sutcliffe's first season with the Cubs in 1984, he went on a tear and won 16 games as the Cubbies ran to the division championship. In game 1 of the NLCS vs. San Diego, he gave up 2 hits and no runs, got the "W", and hit a home run. The rest of the series didn't go the Cubs or his way, but he did win the Cy Young. His success continued in the Windy City and a year later, against another cursed franchise, the Phillies, he pitched the Cubs to a win and actually stole home! He was also an All- Star and 16 game winner for the 1989 team that lost to the Giants in the playoffs. By this time, Sutcliffe's arm was failing and he became a color commentator for the Padres and ESPN.
In 2008, Sutcliffe was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and returned to ESPN while being a motivational speaker.
7 Lee Smith
The big righty broke in with the Cubs in 1980 and fans either loved or closed their eyes when he took the mound. His ball had velocity but little movement, and in clutch moments hitters shrunk the strike zone which, in my "baseball lingo,"made him "unhitably- hitable." For example, he had 33 saves and surrendered a hit per inning for the 1984 team. In Game 2 of the NL Championship vs. the Padres, he was "unhitable" and got the save to give the Cubs a 2-0 series lead. But in game 4, he was "hitable" in the 9th as the Cubs lost the series. He had 10 seasons with 30 or more saves, averaged a strike out per inning, but had a losing record (think unhitably- hitable).
He retired in 1997, and in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Smith was the pitching coach for the South African baseball team. In 2007, he coached in the European Baseball Academy in Italy which teaches the game to kids, and he's a minor-league pitching instructor for the Giants.
6 Kosuke Fukudome
With the success that Ichiro and Matsui had in he 2000s, teams were starting to look at Japan more and more as a potential source of talent. The Cubs hopped on the bandwagon and signed Kosuke Fukudome. In 2006, the year before the Cubs signed him, Fukudome won the Central League MVP award, batting .351 and hitting 31 home runs with 104 RBIs. That offseason, Fukudome began to express in playing in the majors, particularly after playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't get him to reach those levels in the majors and gave up on him after three years. Fukudome has since returned to Japan where he now plays for the Hanshin Tigers.
5 Greg Maddux
When you think of Greg Maddux, you forget that he was a Cub, considering the amount of success he had in Atlanta. It is amazing how a team with so many Hall of Famers and stars could have such an inept history. The greatness continued with Maddux, who established himself as the Cubs' ace in 1989, winning 19 games, including clinching the Cubs' second NL Eastern Division title. Like most of the Cubs, he struggled in the series but threw two 15-win seasons and won 20 in 1992.
And that's when the Cubs blew it, and made the worst mistake in franchise history by letting the ace sign with Atlanta. Maddux finished his HOF career as the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 15 games for 17 straight seasons, is 8th all-time in wins, has won 300 games, 3000 Ks, and walked fewer than 1,000 batters. After he retired, Greg was the pitching coach for the USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In 2016, Maddux was hired as the pitching coach for UNLV where his son, Chase, is a sophomore pitcher.
4 Dave Kingman
The 6' 6", Dave Kingman was a powerful slugger who was made for Wrigley field, or almost any stadium for that matter.Though he only played 3 seasons with the Cubs, he averaged about one homer every 16 at bats but a strikeout in every four. It was all or nothing, and when it was all it was all of a 500 foot blast into the Wrigleyville streets. Kingman's best season with the Cubs was in 1979, when he batted .288 and led the NL with 48 dingers and 115 R.B.I. He hit three home runs in a game twice that season, and was later traded to the Mets.
These days, Kingman lives in Lake Tahoe and loves his boat. He hates golf, would rather hit a moving ball, and is enjoying a quiet retirement. He has two kids in college, one in high school and, owns a tennis club.
3 Billy Williams
Williams was one of the most prolific Cubs, his #26 is retired, and he is in the Hall of Fame. He was the 1961 NL Rookie of the Year and 6 time All-Star for the Cubs. In 1970, he had an amazing season where he batted .322, hit 42 homers, and knocked in 129 runs. Williams hit over 400 home runs, including 30 or more in five seasons. The reputation of "The Lovable Losers" was in its prime as Williams never played a playoff game for the Cubs.
Still, his greatness was honored by being selected to the Hall. Since retiring, he hasn't left the Cubs and has been a hitting coach, first-base coach, and is a senior adviser, talking baseball in the box with Epstein and Hoyer. One moment etched in Cubs history occurred when Williams was the 1st base coach. After Sosa homered in the first game back at Wrigley following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Williams handed Sosa a mini American flag that the slugger waved as he rounded the bases.
2 Fergie Jenkins
Ferguson Jenkins is the first Canadian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and the first Canadian to win the Cy young. He was an All- Star three times and won 20 games six consecutive seasons for the Cubs. He had over 3,000 K's during his career and had his best season in 1971. Jenkins threw 30 complete games, went 24–13, walked only 37 while striking out 263 hitters, and at the plate posted a .478 slugging percentage, hit 6 home runs, and drove in 20 runs. Imagine a starter in today's game accomplishing that. Today, Jenkins lives in Canada and runs "The Fergie Jenkins Foundation."
He has an annual golf tournament, now in its 24th year, that supports the Canadian Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Special Olympics, and The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
1 Milton Bradley
If there's any Cub you'd want to forget about, it's probably Milton Bradley. Milton Bradley was full of issues during his MLB career, noted for his temper. Still, in their efforts to break the curse, the Cubs shelled out a three-year deal worth $30 million for the troubled outfielder. The year he signed with the Cubs, Bradley only managed 12 home runs, 40 RBIs and batted .257.
His past troubles have caught up to him, as he was sentenced to 32 months in prison back in 2015 for nine counts of physically attacking and threatening his wife, two counts of criminal threats and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. A few months later, his wife Monique died from cryptogenic cirrhosis of the liver, hemorrhagic shock and cardiac arrest.
His request for a reduced sentence in 2016 was denied by an L.A. judge.
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