Here they are, T's thoughts on the best Cubs players of all time, counting down from #4 to #1. Who do you think T picked for #1? Read and find out...
4. Billy Williams - Born: June 15, 1938.
Played for: Chicago Cubs: 1959-1974, Oakland Athletics: 1975-1976.
There was a time when good ol’ Sweet Swingin’ Billy patrolled left field at Wrigley Field for 16 years from 1959 until 1974, hitting 392 home runs and having 1,353 RBIs. Williams ranks right up there with many of the Cubs greats such as Ron Santo for the simple reason that he was out there playing every single game no matter if he was injured or sick. Billy played at least 160 games every season from 1963-1970 and had at least 687 plate appearances in each of those seasons. While Williams did play the last two seasons of his career with the Oakland Athletics, he is still looked at as the greatest Cubs’ players of all time and like Santo, gets recognized with a statue outside Wrigley Field.
3. Ryne Sandberg - Born: September 18, 1959.
Played for: Philadelphia Phillies: 1981-1981, Chicago Cubs: 1982-1994, 1996-1997.
What more can be said about Ryne Sandberg that hasn’t already been said? There is no arguing that Ryne Sandberg deserves number 3 on this list after 15 great seasons with the Cubs. Sandberg made the Cubs a hit in the 1980s with his everything: batting, fielding and when he approached the plate, everyone held their breath as he finished taking practice swings. Sandberg hit 282 home runs and knocked in 1,061 runs from 1982-1997. Sandberg is best remembered for June 23, 1984 when he hit two game-tying home runs off St. Louis Cardinals’ closer Bruce Sutter. The legend of Sandberg will also be remembered for the fateful Saturday afternoon in 1994 when he announced a retirement after becoming the highest-paid player in baseball. However, somewhat like Michael Jordan, his retirement was short and he returned to the Cubs’ dugout in 1996 and played two final seasons. There is no better second basemen in baseball history than Ryne Sandberg.
2. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo - Kris Bryant Born: January 4, 1992; Anthony Rizzo Born: August 8, 1989.
Kris Bryant played for: Chicago Cubs: 2013-present; Anthony Rizzo played for: Chicago Cubs: 2012-present.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have built up that sort of Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews 'duo'. They’ve brought the Chicago Cubs the one thing they thought they’d never, ever do: bring a World Series victory to Chicago. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo might be what has rejuvenated this franchise. Before Rizzo and Bryant’s arrival, the team was in its mediocre stage like it had been in previous years. Together, Rizzo and Bryant took a once mediocre franchise and made it a winner. The 2016 World Series was one for the ages. Even if you weren’t a fan of the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians, you saw one of the most exciting series' in baseball. Both teams have a great fan base with both fighting championship droughts, a history of legends, and perhaps the best stadiums around. If you ask me, I find Kris Bryant to be the greatest on the team; he has the exact same personality traits as Patrick Kane - energetic, loud, wild, and doing whatever it takes to win. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were a bit of a hard decision for me and thankfully these two will be sticking around for a while.
It turns out there was an even better player than Rizzo and Bryant. This player is well remembered for his time in Chicago and with that being said, here we go. The number 1 Best Cubs Player is…
1. Ernie Banks - Born: January 31, 1931 Died: January 23, 2015.
Played for: Chicago Cubs: 1953-1971.
Oh Ernie Banks, you’ve touched so many Cubs fans, we can still hear Jack Brickhouse shouting your name as you round the bases after hitting the game winning run. You never walked out on the Cubs even during times when the Cubs faced adversity. Ernie Banks is the best Cub that ever played; he was never traded, the Cubs kept him for over a decade and a half. There can be no doubt that Ernie Banks would be number 1 on this list, it’s pretty clear right away that none other than “Mr. Cub” will forever hold this position. Banks played his entire 19-year career with the Cubs with 512 career home runs from 1953-1971. Banks won the MVP Award in 1958 and 1959 and was a consistent force in the middle of the Cubs’ lineup for his entire career. Banks hit 40 or more home runs each season from 1958-1960. Banks' role on the team is what’s earned him a prominent statue outside Wrigley Field that was specifically crafted in the position that he was famous for batting in. There are many players who could have topped this list; but, Banks is the only one that played his entire career with the Cubs, without being traded. Banks is definitely going down as the greatest Cubs’ player of all time.
*Sigh* I think we need to be clear that this reign of great Cubs players will go on forever. Despite guys like Banks, Santo, and Sandberg having been noted for being the greatest that ever played, there needs to be room for more great Cubs players that will attract the attention of those fans, both young and old. The franchise has been in existence since 1876 and has seen many Hall Of Fame players step onto Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform and there are more to come. Every single player on this list made their mark in Chicago for a long time and will be remembered for their achievements in years to come. I honestly had to look hard for these players because JEEPERS, there’s just so many great legends.
Do you think I missed a particular great player? I know throughout the Cubs 100 year franchise there’s been more greats that can fit on the list. Let me know in the comments if you think so. And, as always, thanks for reading and I’ll be writing soon.