The Chicago Cubs are among the longest-existing teams in the MLB, having played in the National League for all 143 seasons since the foundation of the league in 1876. While the Cubs haven’t always had the greatest name (see: the Chicago Orphans), they have had some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Through the longest title drought in the history of professional sports, the Cubs earned a reputation as lovable losers, giving some players a special place in fans’ hearts for their keystone roles on good teams who never won a World Series. For fans, the curse-breaking 2016 team will be immortal, but with so many of those players early in their Cubs careers, there are many other players more worthy of adorning Mt. Cubmore.
In addition, the Cubs have had some very important figures in their history who never took the field for the team. I elected to separate these figures and include only players here, so be on the lookout for a Mount Rushmore of non-player Cubs soon. With that in mind, here are my player picks:
“Mr. Cub” is the most indisputable Cubs icon, and his nickname is evidence enough. Banks played his entire 19 year career with the team, winning consecutive MVP awards in 1958 and 1959 and representing the Cubs in 14 All Star Games. Banks finished his career with 512 homers and 2583 hits, both marks which propelled him into the hall of fame in his first year on the ballot in 1977. Banks is among the most successful Cubs in history, and without a doubt the most iconic player ever to call the north side home.
Sandberg is among the best second basemen in the history of the MLB, and only some serious sustained success from Javy Baez looks to threaten his status as the greatest Cub to play second. Sandberg played all but 13 games of his 15 year Hall of Fame career as a Cub, winning nine Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, ten All-Star nominations and an MVP award. Sandberg is undeniably one of the best Cubs ever, and undoubtedly belongs on the team’s Mt. Rushmore.
Santo earns a spot on Mt. Cubmore for his role both as one of the greatest Cubs players ever, and as a Cubs broadcaster following his retirement. Santo accrued 72.1 bWAR as a Cub, the second most in franchise history, and was elected to the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest third basemen ever. Santo won five Gold Gloves and went to nine All-Star Games in his 14 years with the Cubs. Later in his life, Santo worked on Cubs radio broadcasts, contributing his passion for the team and immortalizing himself as a Cubs icon until he passed away in 2010.
These players were each integral components of the championship-caliber Cubs of the early 1900s, winning titles with the team in 1906 and 1908 during their time in Chicago. They are better recognized, though, as icons of the double play: Tinker played shortstop, Evers second base, and Chance first. The phrase “Tinker to Evers to Chance” is universally representative of turning two.
Williams and Sosa are two players who were simply too good not to mention. Williams, a Hall of Famer, spent 16 years in a Cubs uniform and won Rookie of the Year, a batting title, and six All-Star nods as a Cub. Sosa was known for his home run prowess, clubbing 545 dingers during his time as a Cub. Sosa led the league in home runs twice as a Cub to go along with an MVP, six Silver Sluggers and seven All-Star nominations. While Sosa’s rumored steroid use may keep him out of the Hall of Fame, both of these players were important Cubs who contributed a great deal to the club in their time there.
As previously mentioned, no player from the 2016 championship team has spent enough time with the Cubs to earn a spot on their Mt. Rushmore, but it’s a crime to omit this team entirely. As one of the longest tenured Cubs from the championship team, Rizzo earns an honorable mention as a representative of that squad. With three All-Star games and 2 Gold Gloves under his belt at age 29, Rizzo is well on his way to cementing his legacy as a Cub icon, and will be remembered forever for catching the final out that ended the infamous title drought.
Like many other players on this list, Zambrano represents an era of Cubs history. “Big Z” played for the Cubs for 11 years during a competitive era from 2001 to 2011, and while he may not have been their best pitcher during that time, he was a consistently good starter with a reputation as one of the best hitting pitchers. Zambrano represented the Cubs in 3 All-Star Games, won 3 Silver Slugger Awards, and played with emotion and flair that endeared many Cubs fans to him.
Jenkins is the pitcher who has found the most sustained success with the Cubs; he put together some of the greatest pitching seasons in history in a Cubs uniform. Jenkins played 10 years of his 19 year career in Chicago, including 8 years in his prime, and retired as a Cub. In that time, Jenkins won a Cy Young Award and put together 3 seasons with at least seven WAR. He only dipped below three WAR in a season for the Cubs when he was worth one win in his final season. Thanks to his excellent peak with the Cubs which lasted several years, Jenkins earns the final spot as the only pitcher on Mt. Cubmore.
Disagree with my selections? Have your own thoughts? Let me know on Twitter @ruhdolph !