(This is part of a series on retired numbers, with somewhat of a focus on Retired Number Bandits — players who wore a number that was later retired at any point after the person for whom it was retired first wore it. See the introduction for more information and explanation on Bandits.)
The Chicago Cubs have retired five numbers in honor of six players. Four were Hall of Famers when the number was retired, and the other two have since been elected.[table “” not found /]
Ron Santo, 10
Santo played 14 seasons with the Cubs and later spent many years as a broadcaster for the team. Although his case for the Hall of Fame was strong, he topped out at 43.1 percent of the vote in his final year on the ballot in 1998. It wasn’t until 2012, the year after his death, that he was elected by the Veteran’s Committee.
The Cubs, thankfully, did not wait so long to honor him with the retiring of his number 10, which they did in 2003. Between his departure from the team in 1973 and the retiring 30 years later, his number was worn by Billy Grabarkewitz, Mike Sember, Dave Kingman, Leon Durham, Lloyd McClendon, Luis Salazar, Steve Lake, Scott Bullett, and Terrell Lowery.
Here’s a clip with some audio highlights from Santo’s broadcasting career:
Ernie Banks, 14
Banks his 512 home runs and won two National League Most Valuable Player Awards in his Cubs career. As a no-doubt Hall of Famer who spent his entire 19-year career with the Cubs, it is not surprising that they put his number 12 on ice as soon as he retired in 1971.
Banks was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977, and his number was officially retired in 1982.
Ryne Sandberg, 23
Sandberg is a very similar case to Banks, having spent all but the first six plate appearances of his career with the Cubs and retiring as one of the greatest second basemen of all time. When Sandberg hung up his spikes in 1997, the Cubs took his number out of circulation.
Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility in 2005, and the Cubs officially retired his number later that year.
Billy Williams, 26
Williams is also a Hall of Famer, but perhaps he was not quite such a sure thing when he retired. He hit 392 home runs in 16 years with the Cubs, who traded him to the Oakland A’s after the 1974 season.
By the time he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, his sixth year on the ballot, the Cubs had taken his number 26 out of the rotation, but not before they had allowed Larry Biittner and Fritzie Connally to wear it. They officially retired the number in August 1987.
Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux, both 31
Jenkins was similar to Williams in some ways: a probable Hall of Famer who didn’t play his whole career with the Cubs, although he spent more time away than Williams but also returned for his final two seasons.
By the time Jenkins was elected to the Hall in his third year of eligibility in 1991, the Cubs had already given his number to Maddux, who was just starting to hit the gas on his own Hall of Fame career.
Once Maddux was retired, the Cubs did a double retirement ceremony and retired number 31 in honor of both Hall of Fame pitchers in 2009.
Between when Jenkins first wore 31 and when Maddux last wore it, it was also worn by Darold Knowles, Tom Dettore, Joe Coleman, Jim Todd, Davey Johnson, Ray Fontenot, Kevin Foster, Bobby Ayala, Brad Woodall, Mike Fyhrie, Donovan Osborne, and Mark Guthrie.
There have been petitions to have other numbers retired, including Phil Cavaretta’s number 3, Andre Dawson‘s number 8, Mark Grace‘s number 17, Sammy Sosa‘s number 21, and Kerry Wood‘s number 34, but those numbers all remain in the regular rotation and were all worn last season.
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