As trade deadline approaches, Ian Happ reflects on time with Cubs: ‘It goes quick’
Ian Happ will never forget the life-changing call.
He was 20 years old and had just finished up his junior season at the University of Cincinnati when the Cubs called to let him know they had selected him 9th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Fast forward seven years and Happ is now staring down the possibility that he may play his last game in a Cubs uniform over the next week.
The trade deadline is next Tuesday and while Happ is still under team control for next season, his name has been mentioned in trade rumors this summer. So he understood the gravity of this week’s 2-game series against the Pirates at Wrigley Field before the team hits the road for a West Coast trip.
“I don’t want to leave here without absorbing it and taking it in,” Happ said before Monday’s game. “I’ve been here since 2015 and grew up here and never think twice about coming here and calling this place home.
“I’ve made so many good relationships in the city and the organization and all over the place, so it’s crazy to think that you could wake up one day and not be here.”
It is certainly not a guarantee that the Cubs will trade Happ, though his value is high as a switch-hitting outfielder who is coming off his first All-Star nod and is enjoying a career season (2.9 WAR).
He knows he would have regretted it if he didn’t spend Monday and Tuesday soaking in the scene at Wrigley Field.
He has bonded with the fans in the left field bleachers — a group that gave Happ a signed baseball Tuesday afternoon as a gift.
After the win, Happ waited in the dugout to share a special moment with Willson Contreras:
Willson Contreras and Ian Happ were the final two players in the dugout. They shared this embrace. pic.twitter.com/Y6GIvRMvqh— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) July 26, 2022
“We’ve played together for a long time and being able to be out there for him and give him a hug — those are special moments that you don’t really forget,” Happ said.
Happ also made sure to take a moment for himself at Wrigley Field.
“There’s nothing quite like a W at Wrigley Field after that song plays and you see the W flags around and the people stay and enjoy it,” he said. “I wanted to be out there and take that in.”
After receiving a nice ovation from the crowd before his 1st-inning at-bat Tuesday afternoon, Happ responded with a 2-run double and later scored on a Nico Hoerner double.
Happ made his intentions clear before the brief homestand kicked off.
“It goes quick,” he said. “…I don’t want my Cubs journey to end. I don’t want to stop putting the uniform on and coming here everyday.”
Happ has been the Cubs’ representative for the MLB Players Association the last couple years and he understands the business side of the game.
He also tries to keep everything in perspective and appreciates how lucky he has been to call a place like Wrigley Field home.
“After ’20, one of the most emotional moments of that half year is talking about some of the vendors that were lost in the pandemic and the years that they spent here and how much they care every single day,” Happ said. “When you’re walking to the stadium and you see people that have been here for 30, 40 years and every time, they’re excited to tell you, ‘good game,’ or, ‘get ’em tomorrow.’
“This place has such a special sense and order to it and it’s built by people. We get to come here and enjoy it and reap the rewards of playing at this special place everyday but it’s built by fans and the vendors and the people that come work here everyday and love it. So I don’t take that for granted.”