Things have changed since the turn of the century, with a constant evolution of the squad that put on the Cubs shirt. It would be fair to ask how anyone with any common sense could claim to know the all-time best cubs to populate the best ever team. While we are known for many things, we are not known for our common sense. Therefore, we have accepted the challenge to find the greatest cubs of all time. We expect you’ll disagree, we know there will be debate – but these are our choices. Tell us what you think!
Catcher: Gabby Hartnett
Who? It seems a fair question. Hartnett is certainly not part of a generation of baseball players that are well known to current fans. However, he is considered one of the greatest catches of his era and was named MVP in 1935. While he missed the majority of 1929 with a dead arm, he returned in 1930 and smashed it. This is the guy you want behind home plate.
First base: Mark Grace
You might not be able to pick Grace out of a crowd of other first basemen, due to his diminutive size, you have to accept he didn’t receive the recognition he deserved. He was solid. He would deliver week in week out – and while there was no flash bang, neither was there any out and out failure. He had the most hits in MLB from 1990-1999 – a total of 1754. Tell me you wouldn’t want that consistency.
Second base: Ryne Sandberg
We feel on firmer ground with this selection, as no one can doubt the calibre of player of Ryne Sandberg. He won nine Golden Glove awards back to back from 83 through to 91. He made 10 all-star appearances and was a seven-time Silver Slugger winner.
In 2005, Sandberg was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and he has the sort of career that makes most cub’s fans swoon.
This was a no-brainer.
Third Base: Ron Santo
We love Ron Santo, you love Ron Santo, everybody loves this guy. He was born in Seattle but was a Cubs fan from birth. He always dreamed of playing for Chicago. Such was his attachment to the club he accepted a lower contract offer so he could play for the team. Who wouldn’t do that to fulfil a childhood dream. And what an investment on the Cub’s part! He was the best third basemen of all time – spending all but one of his seasons at the Franchise.
It took awhile for Santo to be appreciated, as he was only inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 – but it’s a well deserved place. The cubs also retired his number out of respect for his contribution. He earned this respect for his devotion to the Cubs and his enthusiasm as he played.
Shortstop: Ernie Banks
No all-time team of any club and across all clubs could be without Banks. Banks had a zest for the game that was unquestionable but his talent and skill surpassed even this. He wasn’t earning money when he played, he was living out his passion. Everything about his game was skill and tenacious. Just look at the stats: 512 home runs and 1636 RBI. He is “Mr Cub.”
Outfield: Hack Wilson
Wilson never won an official MVP – though he did so – he did earn the unofficial name of the National League’s Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association. When you are called Hack, you had better be brilliant at smacking that ball – and he certainly was that. In the 1929 World Series he hit .471.
Outfield: Phil Cavarretta
He is one of the best players of all times. Ask a Cub’s fan who they love and they will name Cavarretta. He played in three World series and had 20 seasons at the Cubs. He signed with Chicago while still in high school. He still to this day ranks in the top 10 runs scored, hits, runs batted in, extra base hits and triples. He played in 1934 through to 1953 and he still ranks in the top ten! With the evolution of sport and the professionalisation of the support and coaching, you have to concede that this should make him the greatest player of all time for the Chicago Cubs!
Starting Pitcher: Greg Maddux
Ok, we concede we found this super difficult. An All-Time cubs starting pitcher – far too many choices. We shouldn’t really consider performance by era – because the arm is the arm and it doesn’t matter who you are playing against. Therefore, Greg ‘Mad Dog’ Maddux is our choice- as he was in the most difficult era for pitchers and achieved great success. He helped the Cubs to 355 victories and with an ERA of 3.16 and 2237 strikeouts to 999 walks. He won Cy Young Awards four times in a row and 13 straight Gold Gloves.
He was part of the steroid era and played clean. He looked like an accountant compared to the drug-fuelled hulks that were his opponents. He didn’t need the brute strength because he was accurate and he had a slider to complement his fast ball. Also, though seldom-used – he had a great curveball too. He might not have been a hard-thrower but he had refined skills that meant he could compete anyway.