There are a handful of numbers on Cubs jerseys you will never see on a Cubs player again – but will always be seen on the die-hard fans roaming Wrigley Field. These include the retired Cubs numbers of Ron Santo, No. 10; Ernie Banks, No. 14; Ryne Sandberg, No. 23; Billy Williams, No. 26; and the most recent retired number was shared by two Cubs greats – Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux, No. 31. And of course Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, retired by the MLB, will never appear on a Cubs player, just on a true baseball fan.
Sure, you have seen the flags with the names and numbers blowing in the breeze down the baselines, but have you taken the time to really appreciate these six men and what they have meant to the Cubs ballclub? It is important for all Cubs fans, new and old alike, to remember these men’s legacies so they can continue to live on in fans’ hearts forever. In fact they’re so important, they’re all worth a few words right here.
Ron Santo’s number was retired by the Cubs in September 2003. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, third baseman to ever step foot on the field for the Cubs. This truly inspirational figure in the Cubs organization played in 2,102 games spanning from 1960 to 1973 and was a nine-time All-Star. That he is still not a member of the Hall of Fame is nothing short of a crime.
Cubs No. 14 was retired in honor of Ernie Banks in August 1982. Known as Mr. Cub, Ernie is the Cubs’ all-time leader in games played, at-bats and total bases. He was a key player for the team from 1953 to 1971 and was inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. Ernie played in the All-Star Game 14 times, won the National League Most Valuable Player twice and was also a recipient of the Gold Glove award. This all-around excellent ball player – both in the field and at the dish – was, and still is, a favorite of many and will be remembered as one of baseball’s finest.
The Cubs second base superstar, Ryne Sandberg, had his number – 23 – retired in August 2005. That same year he was also elected to The Baseball Hall of Fame. Ryno received nine Gold Gloves for his excellence in the field, was a 10-time All-Star, and was named 1984’s NL MVP. He is also known for his prodigious power at second base. His career with the Cubs spanned from 1982 to 1994 and 1996 to 1997.
Billy Williams, No. 26, played for the Cubs from 1959 to 1974 during which time he was the proud recipient of numerous honors. In 1961, Billy was named Rookie of the Year. He was an All-Star six times and was recognized as The Sporting News Player of the Year in 1972. Billy’s mighty swing produced 2,711 hits and 426 home runs during his baseball career. The Cubs organization retired his number in 1987, the same year he was elected to The Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Cubs original No. 31, Fergie Jenkins, is the most recent member of the Cubs organization to have his number retired and be honored as one of the best Cubs pitchers ever to grace the mound. Fergie’s number was just retired in May 2009. He played for the Cubs from 1966 to 1973 and, get this, was the first Canadian elected to The Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Fergie won 284 games, most of them as a Cub, and was a recipient of the National League Cy Young Award.
Sharing the Cubs treasured retired No. 31 is another remarkable pitcher, Greg Maddux. Greg has been the record-holding recipient of an amazing 18 Gold Gloves. His talent on the mound has allowed him to win more games than any other pitcher during the 1990s. Greg began his career with the Cubs in 1986 and played with them for seven seasons. He left the Cubs organization for 10 years, but later returned in 2004 and stayed until 2006. A bid to the Hall of Fame certainly awaits.