The other day someone asked me, “If you couldn’t pick Ryne Sandberg, who would be your favorite Cub in your life time?”
I literally couldn’t decide. So instead I said, “I have 9 other favorites.” And then I have 10 favorite pitchers. So, without further ado, here they are.
Disclaimer: I was born in 1985.
- Ryne Sandberg – The greatest Cub that ever lived. Perhaps the greatest fundamental player that ever stepped foot on a baseball field.
- Sammy Sosa – Despite all the drama, rumors, and yes, realities of his career, Sammy Sosa made the Cubs fun at a time we needed it most. I’ll always be a fan of Sammy Sosa for his heart, his loyalty, and for making the post-Sandberg era special.
- Glenallen Hill – I know what you’re thinking…random, right? Glenallen Hill would probably rank even higher if he had spent more time in Chicago. This dude could absolutely mash. I think he hit one on the rooftop across the street one time. Every at-bat of his was worth watching and he either struck out or hit a towering home run. He reminded me of Bo Jackson in a sense that he looked invincible. The other difference was, Bo Jackson really was invincible. Glenallen Hill just looked invincible. Regardless, this guy was SO much fun to watch at the plate.
- Mark Grace – No explanation needed. He was our rock for 12 seasons and only played on a few winning teams. One of the most consistent contact hitters in baseball history, Mark Grace was the guy you wanted at the plate with the game on the line. Really glad he finally got a ring in Arizona in 2001.
- Shawon Dunston – Who can forget the Shawon-O-Meter in the Wrigley bleachers all those years? This guy had it all. A strong arm, a solid bat, and one-half of one of the best double play duo’s in the National League at that time. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but I’m afraid it’ll never happen.
- Moises Alou – Another guy with ridiculous consistency and fundamentals. It helps being the son of a former Major League player and manager. Alou had one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball. There’s only a few players in all of baseball I’d put in left field over Moises Alou. I just wish he would have spent more time in Chicago.
- Kyle Schwarber – The Babe is quickly becoming my favorite Cub. He doesn’t look like an athlete, but he could be the best power hitter the Cubs have seen since Sosa. The fact that he plays outfield AND catcher demonstrates his talent and work ethic. If he can keep his weight down and become a solid catcher, this kid will be a great baseball player for a long, long time. Not since Glenallen Hill has it been this much fun to watch a Cubs player step up to the plate.
- Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes – I’ll never forget the day in 1994 when Tuffy Rhodes hit 3 home runs against Dwight Gooden and the New York Mets. In fact, that’s probably the day he made this list. Although he only played with the Cubs for a couple of years, and he wasn’t exactly dominant, he was always a fun player for me to watch. Maybe it was his name. Or maybe it was just that game against the Mets that will always keep him in good standing with me. Either way, Tuffy makes the list.
- Tyler Houston – The 2nd overall pick in the 1989 draft was only a Cub for 3 seasons but he made a lasting impact on a team that needed a left handed bat and a consistent catcher. He provided both along with a great first name.
- Gary Gaetti – Forget being one of my favorite Cubs, this guy was one of my favorite players ever. The mustache he dawned at the beginning of his career was things legends are made of. But Gaetti was at the end of his career when he joined the Cubs in 1998, right before our Wildcard run. He added a hot bat off the bench, but more importantly a veteran teammate with postseason experience.
Brooks Kieschnick – Perhaps the greatest bust in Cubs history. But boy was he fun to talk about in the mid 90’s.
Rey Sanchez – No one worked harder and was a better utility player for the Cubs in the 1990’s. He could play anywhere on the field but he also happened to be one of the worst hitters in the history of the franchise. But the middle infielder in me enjoyed watching him play.
- Kerry Wood – I’ve only enjoyed watching one other player pitch more than Kerry Wood and that was Nolan Ryan. The ’98 season was so special because he was the front of the rotation and we knew we could win when he was on the hill. He was almost too young to understand what he was doing. He struck out 20 Houston Astros before he could eve legally drink. Kerry Wood’s career was far too short but he still added some of the most memorable moments in Cubs history.
- Rick Sutcliffe – I barely remember watching Rick Sutcliffe play for the Cubs but my memories all consist of hearing how great he was BEFORE I was old enough to watch him. A few years ago I was at Turner Field in Atlanta for the Braves/Cubs series and I saw Sutty watching the game by himself a few rows across from me. The stadium was pretty empty (SOP for the Braves) so I built up enough courage to go over there and speak to him. He couldn’t have been nicer. He asked me to sit down and watch the game with him and we talked baseball for a full inning. That was one of the most memorable moments of my life and he will always be a favorite of mine.
- Kevin Foster – For 20 years, I’ve been practicing flipping a baseball up in the air as smooth as Kevin Foster. I have yet to figure it out. But beyond that, Foster was a great pitcher in the mid 90’s and packed a pretty solid bat as well.
- Turk Wendell – This guy was quite a character. He brushed his teeth between innings, didn’t wear socks, and chewed licorice during the games. Aside from that, he was a steady hand out of the Cubs dugout in the early to mid-90’s. He was also famously the first to accuse Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa of juicing. While he took some major heat at the time, he wound up being right. Wendell also tried to play his last season for free, but the players union wouldn’t let him. The more I think about it, maybe he should be higher on my list.
- Randy Myers – Best closer in Cubs history besides Lee Smith.
- Greg Maddux – The one that got away.
- Carlos Zambrano – The craziest man to ever enter Wrigley. But boy could he throw a baseball.
- Steve Trachsel – “The Human Rain Delay,” known more for the amount of time he took between pitches and for being the guy who gave up Mark McGwire’s 62nd home run in 1998, Trachsel was a pretty mediocre pitcher that found a way to stick around the Cubs organization for almost 7 seasons. He was never bad, but he was never really good, either. But we always got a solid start out of him.
- Mike Morgan – This guy played for 13 teams over 24 seasons and was nicknamed “The Nomad” for his constant travel between MLB teams. But he was the #1 starter for the Cubs in 1993 after winning 16 games in 1992 behind Greg Maddux’s Cy Young award winning 20. But Morgan never matched what he did in 1992 but he was still as sure an arm as the Cubs could ask for during a pretty quiet time in the franchise’s history.
- Jon Lieber – I remember how excited I was when the Cubs traded for Lieber in 1999. He was a relatively consistent arm for the Cubs until his breakout year in 2001 when he won 20 games and finished 4th in the Cy Young race. He is also the only Major League pitcher to ever give up a hit to a one-armed player, Jim Abbott, in 1999.