sunsetThe Chicago Cubs of the last 10 years have really come to be known by their folk heroes. Todd Walker. Bobby Scales. Tony Campana. Mark DeRosa. Henry Blanco. I could go on. You know the type I’m describing: They aren’t stars (though some were quite good for the Cubs), but their luminescence in the hearts and minds of Cubs fans outshone by leaps and bounds their actual ability on the field.

And one of the greatest folk heroes in recent memory is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly. But you can call him Ted. Probably. Well, maybe not. He might fight you.

Lilly was a part of the Cubs’ spending binge that preceded the 2007 season, netting him a four-year, $40 million contract (agreed to while Jim Hendry was in the hospital, only heightening the legend of Lilly) – massively backloaded, of course ($6M/$8M/$13M/$13M). Prior to coming to the Cubs, Lilly had been a successful, though not overly impressive lefty. He really blossomed with the Cubs (10.4 WAR over his first three years), pitching well enough for folks to start calling him things like “bulldog,” and helping the Cubs to the playoffs in 2007 and 2008.

In the middle of his final year with the Cubs, Lilly was dealt, together with Ryan Theriot (another player who enjoyed a brief run as a folk hero) to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and a couple pitchers who never reached the big leagues.

Today, Lilly told a Venezuelan newspaper (he was presumably in South America single-handedly fighting a drug cartel or befriending a surly bull) that he is retiring. Most of us will remember Lilly fondly, be it for his eponymous fan club (RIP to one of the funniest Cubs blogs of that era), his infamous glove slam, his absolute leveling of Yadier Molina, or his take-no-guff-from-Edgar-Renteria moment in Atlanta.

Best of luck to Lilly in his post-playing days. I am imagining him, DeRosa, and Blanco forming a Styx cover band, and it being awesome.

(And make sure to see the obligatory gloveslam.gif, courtesy of BN’er jon in the comments.)


  • jon


    • Brett

      That’s what I’m talking about.

    • Rich H


      • Jeff


        • DarthHater

          + ∞

          • cub1


    • Jono

      I’ve done this move a few too many times on the softball fields near North ave beach

    • Chris S

      Man.. That was SIX years ago… *sniff

  • jayrig5

    I’ll always remember him by the gunfighterish nickname my mother (of all people) bestowed upon him thanks to his general facial expression: Sleepy Ted Lilly.

    I’ll miss you, Sleepy Ted. May your retirement be filled with moth-related pranks, Molina-related truckings, and cigars aplenty.

    (Note: I don’t know for sure that Sleepy Ted enjoys cigars, but I’m just going to guess it’s a safe bet.)

  • Rich


  • Spriggs

    I frequently and proudly sport my Lilly Cubs T.

  • Fishin Phil

    Best wishes to you Ted!

  • Dave

    Wasn’t it Lilly who barreled over Yadier Molina at one point? Or am I mixing up my Cubs folk heros?

  • YourResidentJag

    Best FA signing of Hendry regime IMO.

  • Gabe Athouse

    I agree. He was a great Cub.

    • EuroCub

      ^ This.

  • jon

    Anyone have the gif of LIlly running over Molina?

  • Stinky Pete

    I don’t condone home plate collisions (You know, getting old and such. More a fan of playing hard and avoiding serious injury.) but I will remember Mr. Lilly for running over Yadier Molina. As a pitcher he needed to be more concerned with his health and could have easily laid down or tried to run around. (Which is probably what Molina was expecting him to do.) Theodore Roosevelt (Eli) Lilly said, “This is my baseline you SOB. And you won’t stop me from scoring.”

    Balls, Mr. Lilly. Balls.

  • Funn Dave

    Idk if I’d say that the Cubs have become known for their folk heroes. Maybe by fans, but I don’t think non-Cubs-fans see us that way.

    Also, best folk hero in sports = John Kuhn.

    • Funn Dave

      Sad day, though. Lily was the type of guy you could count on.

    • Brett

      Known by, not known for. It’s a subtle distinction, but I think it makes it fair.

    • FullCountTommy

      Yes because an entire stadium chanting a racial slur is grounds for a folk hero….Only in Wisconsin

  • True(ly) Blue

    I always liked Ted Lilly. He wasn’t the most talented player on the field but he was always the best competitor. Good luck in your retirement!

  • danimal8

    Brett, please don’t include the word “Prior” in your stories. Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Steve R.

    I’m convinced commenter “Rich H” is Rich Hill….

  • kscubfan

    When I think scrappy the image of Ted running over Yadi always comes to mind. Good luck Ted I loved watching you play.

  • woody

    Take it from a guy who lived in Panama for many years. Latin America is a vibrant and fun place to live and visit. All the drug cartel stuff gets over played by the media. Anybody that checks their “arrogance” at the door and makes an attempt to embrace the language and customs finds most all of the country’s down there to be more than hospitable.

  • Dale’s (Fired) Ear

    Ted only retired because Bud Selig knew it would eliminate the most obvious reason that hitters take steroids: Fear of the Lilly-Hammer. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III a martyr for baseball…

  • ssckelley

    You mention Cub folk heros and do not mention the legendary Jake Fox or Hector Villanueva? How about Julio Zuleta, Micah Hoffpauir, and Bryan LaHair?

    You’re right, the list does go on and on.

    • cms0101

      Zuleta in the dugout practicing voodoo. That was classic.

  • cubfanbob

    One of my fav ex cubs. Before the home games he pitched he would run the warning track from end to end close to start time to get lose. There would be hundreds of us with our old styles in the air saluting as he ran each way.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Ted Lilly is a class act. Wish him the best in the next chapter of life. Guy was a competitor and the definition of a “crafty lefty.” The man could flat out pitch with less than superior stuff.

    Hector Villenueva? Now there is a blast from the past! I’ll never forget listening to Harry and Steve call a Cubs game versus San Diego where Villanueva was getting the start behind the plate for the Cubs and Benito Santiago for the Padres. Harry was infamous for calling the Padres’ catcher “Benito San Diego” by mistake. Well Harry was doing that once again in this game, but then Hector came to bat and Harry actually announced him as “Hector Philadelphia” ! If I’m lyin I’m dyin. I never laughed harder, and Stony could barely contain himself.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Favorite HV moment was this improbably high fly ball that came straight down into the right field corner. The man chugged with all his might into 3rd base. I think anyone… and I mean ANYONE else… to ever play the game would have legged out an inside the park HR. Couldn’t tell you when that war butoh for the theatrics…

  • Edwin

    I miss ted lilly Fanclub.

  • http://BN Sacko

    It was all good about Daisy except what we got in the trade..Holy!

  • Luis Salazar

    I saw him pitch last Thursday! Little did I know it would end up being his last professional start: 3.1IP 3H 4BB 1K. He had a terrible second inning, but otherwise got out of trouble.
    He sure had a good run with the Cubs. I wish him the best.

  • Mark S

    I have a ball from a game back in ’08 signed by LIlly, Marmol and DeRosa. Pretty awesome guy. Very friendly.

  • Jim L


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