Results tagged ‘ Billy Williams ’
(Photo by Stephen Green)
As the Jackie Robinson biopic 42: The True Story of An American Legend is released in theaters nationwide Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced they will honor the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier on Tuesday, April 16. This historic moment is celebrated league-wide each year on April 15, with all uniformed personnel wearing Robinson’s retired no. 42 in honor of the legendary Hall of Famer.
“We’re happy to join all of Major League Baseball on this historic occasion,” said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs. “Jackie Robinson is a true American hero, and we are all greatly indebted to his contribution to not only baseball, but to American history and culture.”
Since the Cubs’ home series against the Texas Rangers begins on April 16, the Cubs will honor Robinson during a pregame ceremony, and players on both teams will wear No. 42. Nearly 50 “42” flags will adorn the roof of Wrigley Field during the series.
In addition, the Chicago Cubs will host more than 300 Chicago Public School (CPS) high school baseball players to attend Tuesday night’s game in recognition of the celebration. Several CPS baseball players will be recognized during the pregame ceremony.
As part of the pregame ceremony, Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams will both be recognized. Banks shares a special kinship with Robinson as the first African-American to play for the Cubs. Banks considered Robinson a mentor during their time in the majors.
Billy Williams broke into the majors not long after Robinson and Banks, and credits Robinson with being the pioneer who opened the door for all baseball players of color. Williams will share his comments about Robinson and his own personal experience playing in the Robinson-era during the game telecast on Comcast SportsNet.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who gave the eulogy at Robinson’s funeral services in Brooklyn, N.Y., and actor John C. McGinley will throw out the first pitches t the game. McGinley, who stars as Brooklyn play-by-play announcer Red Barber in the movie, will also serve as the guest conductor for the 7th-inning stretch.
Following the game, Cubs Authentics will auction a game worn No. 42 jersey signed by all the Cubs players and a flag from the roof of Wrigley Field, with proceeds going to Chicago Cubs Charities.
The MVP awards were handed out Thursday night, signifying the official end of the the 2012 baseball season. But just because Spring Training is still months away doesn’t mean Cubs fans can’t get their baseball fix.
From Jan. 18-20, Cubs faithful will have an opportunity to meet more than 50 current and former players, coaches and front office associates at the 28th annual Cubs Convention. For the first time in the event’s history, it will be held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers at 301 E. North Water St., and it promises to deliver all the fun and excitement of previous years.
Some of the headliners expected to attend this year include Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams; current stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Jeff Samardzija; and front office personnel like Dale Sveum, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
Individual weekend passes for the event went on sale earlier this month, and there are still some available. Each pass is $60 plus convenience fees. To purchase your pass, visit cubs.com or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.
Guests can also still book rooms at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers by calling the hotel at 800-233-4100. Ask for the Cubs Convention rate of $179/night plus tax. Guests who book a two-night stay will receive a limited edition, authenticated, autographed photo of Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson.
The convention will run from 1-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m-midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit cubs.com.
CHICAGO—Win or lose, nothing beats Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Though the Cubs were unable to finish off Ryan Dempster’s 10-strikeout Opening Day gem, falling 2-1 to the Nationals, the excitement over the 2012 team was palpable. The Wrigley faithful packed the streets by 8 a.m. to check out the new offerings at the Friendly Confines, including the LED scoreboard in right field, the Budweiser Patio, and the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Manager Dale Sveum to kick off the baseball season in style.
The New Year signals a new era for Cubs faithful. We’ve got a new front office, some new players and a new reason to celebrate.
The first Vine Line issue of 2012 salutes the life and career of Cubs great and newly minted Hall of Famer Ron Santo. Thanks to a vote from the Veterans Committee, the iconic third baseman finally earned his rightful place alongside teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams in Cooperstown. Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe explains why the nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glover not only deserved his enshrinement long ago, but also might be the sixth or seventh best third basemen of all time. Vine Line subscribers also get a one-of-a-kind, commemorative tear-out poster of Santo and his Hall of Fame teammates.
Although the weather might be a bit chilly for baseball, we also get back on the field in this issue with a look at the Cubs first moves of the Hot Stove season, the signing of outfielder David DeJesus and the trade for third baseman Ian Stewart. These moves say a lot about what the new Cubs brain trust values and where the team is headed in the future.
“I tend to like [well-rounded] players. The totality of their contributions can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well,” Epstein said. “If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we’re going to far exceed the expectations because the subtle contributions really add up.”
Finally, Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat talks to right-hander Andrew Cashner about what he’s doing this offseason to prepare the help the team in 2012. After an injury plagued 2011, Cashner is feeling strong and ready to go–no matter which role the Cubs ask him to play.
You’ll find these stories and more in our January issue. If you want to be part of all the exciting Cubs action in 2012, subscribe to Vine Line today. And watch for our minor league prospectus issue in February, profiling the top talent rising through the Cubs farm system.
Editor Michael Huang sat down with general manager Jim Hendry to ask him the questions fans are clammoring to know: What moves does Hendry plan to make in order to avoid completely rebuilding? How does he evaluate the progress at the minor-league level? What does he think of Mike Quade’s performance in the manager’s seat?
The story gives a lot of insight into where the Cubs are headed this off-season.
You’ll also find recaps of the Andre Dawson and Billy Williams ceremonies held at Wrigley Field over the past few weeks, including exclusive photography from Stephen Green. And if you’ve ever been interested in knowing how the pros chart pitches from scout’s row, you’ll find a Cubs CrossOver walking through the fundamentals and purpose of logging every pitch a Cubs hurler throws.
To subscribe or preview more of Vine Line, visit our landing page on cubs.com.
Lee Smith was puzzled when Joan Janssen needed to take a timeout from a bullpen session to grab something from her purse.
“Wait a minute,” Smith said. “I got a relief pitcher with a purse?”
Mutual interest between Cubs legends and everyday fans defined the inaugural Chicago Cubs Fantasy Camp that took place Aug. 8-9 at Wrigley Field. On the 8th, campers had signed one-day contracts with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
Smith joined Randy Hundley, Billy Williams, Rick Sutcliffe and Ernie Banks to show 32 camp participants the basics of hitting, pitching and fielding before the campers split up into four teams and faced off tournament-style.
“There’s a lot of ability here,” Sutcliffe said. “There are some guys out here that are ready to get after it.”
Team Williams beat Team Banks 15-3 to take the day’s crown. Frank Cascella (below) was Team Williams MVP and Overall MVP.
Cascella, who moonlights as a Wrigley Field tour guide on the weekends and won his ticket from a radio show contest, was nevertheless blown away when he stepped “between the foul lines” on Monday morning.
“I didn’t want to say this to my wife, but it was up there with my kid being born for sure,” he said. “One of the best feelings ever… I had to fight back some emotion.”
The camp’s youngest player, 11-year-old Brian Brady (above with Hendry), was named the Defensive Player of the Day.
AJ Karstens, who hit the day’s only homer, was Team Banks MVP and the Long Ball Award winner. Josh Silver was Team Sutcliffe MVP while Chris Donaldson took the award for Team Smith.
Chatting with and learning from old pros was a treat for the campers.
“It feels so easy,” participant Chris Donaldson said. “The staff just makes us feel like we’re ballplayers. That’s all we could ask.”
Members of the triumphant Team Williams squad all were rewarded with bats engraved with their names. Tim Creed wrapped up his experience with a phrase uttered many times during the day: “It’s a dream come true.”
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Every once in a Cubbie blue moon, we are witness to seeing a dream come true at Wrigley Field. It might happen to a neighbor or friend of the Cubs, or even a business partner. Artist Steve Musgrave has been all three over the years.
You might have seen his work as you come through the Red Line “el” stop at Addison, just east of Wrigley Field. His murals include Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Ryne Sandberg tagging a sliding Ozzie Smith.
Last Monday, Steve got to fulfill a lifelong dream. He threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the 7:05 contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wearing a handmade Cubs beret, in front of his lovely wife Jane and a handful of friends and family–not to mention the more than 32,000 people in the stands–Steve conjured up visions of Fergie Jenkins (or Matt Clement, his favorite Cub in 2003) and threw a looping strike to rookie right-hander and Park Ridge, Ill., native Brian Schlitter.
Not only did he fulfill a lifelong dream, but he also was representing the Chicago Public Library’s “Reading is Artrageous” program, a summer reading initiative centered around art for city kids up to age 14.
The program is a partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago. Steve has visited several libraries as a guest speaker and participant. To learn more about the program, click here.
A caring and genuine soul, Steve has done much work for Cubs publications in the past and has always been great to work with and an even better friend. In fact, while the longtime Lakeview resident has been a good neighbor of the Cubs, he was an even nicer neighbor to me, as he selflessly volunteered to walk our dog Bella every day along with his dog Molly.
His work has adorned the covers of our official programs, scorecards, and he even served as Vine Line‘s caricature illustrator for a time. More importantly, he has done a lot of work for not-for-profits around the area.
So I felt compelled to bring him something that could fittingly commemorate his big Wrigley Field debut: An ice bag.
OK, so he might have not worked up a sweat out on the mound, but the guy has worked hard for his community. That’s good enough.
In the April edition of Vine Line, we debuted a back-page column called “The 10th Inning with….” which offers fan perspectives from the outside looking in. The fans are mainly celebrities or prominent personalities around Chicago giving their impressions on all things Cubs.
We’ve received a nice amount of positive feedback on the column and hopefully it will appear every other month, alternating with “Stretching Out with…”
Popular WXRT Radio on-air personality Lin Brehmer was nice enough to volunteer his services as our inaugural columnist. He has been a die-hard Cubs fan since 1984, when he moved to Chicago. Here is his story:
Cubs fans come from every corner. They grow up at the corner of Southport Avenue and Irving Park Road, and come back to discover a post office where their houses used to be. They grow up on the farms of Iowa, where the crackle of a transistor radio transports them to another world. My collision course was nothing short of providential.
Raised in a region where the pinstripes were of a different color, four brothers from Oak Park, Ill., introduced me to the lineup of Kessinger, Beckert, Williams, Santo, Banks, Hundley, Altman and Phillips. We roamed the asphalt schoolyards of New York looking for a game. Playing stickball, Joel, Adam, Benji, D.K. and I would take turns being the Chicago Cubs or the New York Yankees.
In 1970, we started the Cleo James fan club for the unheralded and unloved Cubs outfielder. This past October, 38 years later, Benji sent me an official looking document that reads:
“For Lin Brehmer: Founding Member and President-for-Life of THE CLEO JAMES FAN CLUB. In honor of, and appreciation for, Mr. Cleo James, Outfielder, Chicago Cubs (1970-1971).”
And then there’s an anonymous quotation: “He won some, he lost some, but he suited up for them all.” In the middle of the document in a protective plastic sleeve is a baseball card of good old number 24. On the back of the baseball card we learn that Cleo’s hobby was table tennis.
I first arrived in Chicago in 1984 on the promise of World Series tickets.
Perhaps, I was naive.
1984. The year of nicknames. Sarge. Ryno. Penguin. The baseball world was giddy with talk of the Cubs that summer. It was the season that Whitey Herzog, the eminence grise of the Cardinals, called Ryne Sandberg the greatest player he’d ever seen.
My job interview was grueling. I spent the summer eating stuffed pizza and watching the Cubs. By September, I was hunting for a place to live. Tooling around the North Side in a borrowed Mazda, I drove to the corner of Clark and Addison and stopped.
I am not a casual baseball fan. As a skinny pre-teen, I was a fire-balling southpaw for such teams as Lazar’s Kosher Meats, Gerard Towers, and the star-crossed Michael C. Fina Jewelers.
In 1971 and 1972, I was the MVP of my high school baseball team. When Rotisserie Baseball was invented at the start of the ’80s, I immediately took my team, Brehmer’s Bombers, to the cellar. I’ve coached youth baseball for six years.
So that first view of Wrigley Field might as well have been accompanied by a cinematic choir of angels or by the sonorous voice of James Earl Jones summoning me, “Lin Brehmer, this is your destiny.”
The Cubs did not go to the World Series in 1984. I know because I watched Game 5 against the Padres in my landlord’s apartment right beneath my own on the 3700 block of N. Wayne Avenue.
And a strange fever grew.
Living four blocks from Wrigley Field, I spent the next few baseball seasons in the right-centerfield bleachers with Marty, Mars, Wendy, Norm and Sara.
My apartment window had a sign in the window that read “No Lights In Wrigley Field,” and as soon as lights were installed, we protested by buying a night game/weekend season ticket package. Aisle 239. Row 4.
‘ve been to 28 out of the last 29 Opening Days. My mental scrapbook holds many images: Mark Grace’s torrid postseason run in ’89. Gaetti’s home run in the ’98 one-game wild-card playoff. The nine-run comeback against the Rockies in the summer of ’08.
And my favorite moment of all: Andre Dawson’s final home game in ’87. That was the year that Dawson offered the Cubs a blank check for his salary and won the MVP for a last-place club.
All season long the bleachers would pay tribute to Dawson’s unrelenting commitment by bowing to him as he jogged out to rightfield. Andre Dawson was cut from different marble than most media-savvy ball players of the modern era. He was as stoic a presence as I have ever seen in a major-league outfield.
On that last day, Dawson hit his 49th home run. When he trotted out to his place, he faced the bleachers for the first time, raised his arms in the air and bowed repeatedly to the fans. The gesture was so out of character that it spoke to the man’s caliber.
I have watched the Cubs now through my son’s eyes. He went to 15 games before he was 1 year old. As a toddler, he ran up the ramps and then down the ramps. He watched the “El” from the rightfield corner. And one afternoon I looked to my left to see him with a pencil in his hand, peanut shells scattered on an open scorebook, writing 6-4-3 DP. A Cubs fan born and bred. A kid gathering stories to pass on to another generation. A young man who will understand there is no winning without losing.
Robert Browning, who knew nothing of baseball but much of human nature, once wrote, “That heaven should exceed a man’s grasp or what’s a heaven for.”
Every year, I take a magic marker and draw an X through the month of October. That’s because I plan on being at Wrigley Field through the end of that month.
Lin Brehmer has been the morning disc jockey at 93XRT since 1991. He first came to the station in 1984 so he could go to the World Series at Wrigley Field.
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Last Wednesday legions of Cubs fans descended upon at HoHoKam Park for the second annual “Fergie and Friends” charity event. The night was hosted by Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who was accompanied by dozens of his Hall of Fame contemporaries such as Juan Marichal, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers and Billy Williams, as well as popular former players like Dave Stewart, Bob Dernier and George Foster.
While hundreds of fans milled about the infield, taking pictures with their heroes, one had wandered out to centerfield talking to his family on his cell phone. After finishing his conversation, clad in Yankee pinstripes and a familiar “NY” on his chest, pushing up his sleeve like he was still on the mound. He sauntered back but then was approached by two little girls.
“Hi, mister. Can we take a picture with you?”
The girls turned to each other, then to the man. “Um, who are you?”
“I’m Tommy John. I pitched for the Yankees.”
These days most people might not remember the 288 wins John had over his 26-year career, but they surely are familiar with the revolutionary elbow replacement surgery that bears his name. While in Spring Training last week, I got to spend a couple of minutes with John. He might have grown up in Terre Haute, Ind., and played for the White Sox, but he was quite clear–in a slight Southern twang–for which team he rooted as a youngster.
Tommy John: You know I grew up a Cubs fan, don’tcha? You know that, right?.
Vine Line: Well, you grew up in Indiana, so I would hope so!
TJ: Remember when you were a little kid and had to name your favorite players?
’Course I’m back in the dark ages, but my favorite Cubs were Dee Fondy, Hank “The Mayor” Sauer and Bob Rush. I was a huge Bob Rush fan. I was a big Cubs fan because my parents were big Cubs and Bears fans.
VL: Can you describe the thought process in deciding to undergo, until then, what was an unknown and risky surgical process?
TJ: When I first hurt my elbow, I went to see Dr. Frank Jobe the very next day. In 1974, there were no MRIs, there was no nothing. You had X-ray. They X-rayed it, and the elbow was sound. There were no chips or anything. But they held my humerus up sideways and my elbow just opened up. Dr. Jobe said he thought I had torn the ligament in the elbow. But they let me just rest for 3-4 weeks. After that, I met the [Dodgers] at Shea Stadium, and they ran me out there to throw batting practice. As soon as I got on the pitched surface, aw gosh, did that hurt. I had to stop. So I went to our longtime trainer, Bill Bueller, and asked him what if we taped my arm like you would a sprained ankle.
VL: Wait. You taped your arm…together?
TJ: Oh yeah. Seriously. I could throw pretty good with that, but the ball didn’t have that late life to it. So I called Dr. Jobe and he laid it out on the line. He said I had two choices. I really didn’t need to have to surgery. He said I could live an everyday life without having it. But I would never pitch major-league baseball again. So I said, if I do it, what are the chances? Probably about 1 or 2 out of 100. But if I didn’t do it, there was no chance at all. I even called my old buddy Hoyt Wilhelm in Florida.
VL: Hey, Wilhelm was a Cubs for a short while.
TJ: Yep, he was. So I called him and said I was going to have this surgery. And if I couldn’t get my fastball up where I needed it, he was going to have to teach me a knuckleball!
VL: So how did Dr. Jobe explain the procedure?
TJ: Well, Dr. Jobe said he was going to remove a tendon from my right arm–the palmaris longus. Transplants of tendons in the hand wrist were done all the time, so he used that technique because it would be very similar in the elbow. There was also a hand surgeon Dr. Herbert Stark. Dr. Stark would be present during the procedure because he had done many of those hand and wrist tendon transplants, but it was never done in an elbow of a guy who threw 90 mph. Dr. Jobe had four other doctors in there with him, several of his associates because he said “I don’t know what I’m doing and I want as many bright minds who can help me.” That’s why I told him he was the right doctor to do this.
VL: And so how did the surgery turn out?
TJ: There was a chance that the tendon in my elbow simply snapped off and they could perhaps reattach it. But when they went in there, Dr. Jobe said the torn ligaments looked like a big bowl of spaghetti. It had just ruptured and strands were all over. So it had to be replaced. And when I felt on my right arm the stitches, I knew they had to go and get the tendon.
VL: You went on to continue your career. Despite the fact you won 288 games, how do you feel about the surgery being your legacy in baseball?
TJ: Guys are coming back in 12-15 months, throwing as hard or even harder than they were before. But they need to regain that feel for pitching. They gotta re-learn pitching. But at least they’re pitching. It used to be a death sentence for a baseball player. Now guys like Kerry Wood and John Smoltz and tons of other guys have been able to have productive careers. And that’s OK with me.
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