Kyle Schwarber’s message to Cubs fans in return to Chicago
It was a moment that Kyle Schwarber couldn’t wait for.
After playing what turned out to be the last of his six seasons in Chicago with no fans in attendance, Schwarber was anxious to see some fans back at Wrigley Field.
“It’s gonna be nice just to go back there, interact with them, let them know that I appreciate them for all the support they gave me through the last six years and know that they’re held close to my heart,” Schwarber said prior to Monday night’s series opener.
That’s why the 15 steps he took from the on-deck circle to the left-handed batter’s box in the 1st inning were so special.
Schwarber strolled up to the plate and before he got to the box, Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras stepped in front of the plate so the game could stop, giving the 11,144 fans at Wrigley Field a chance to give their thanks and applause to Schwarber.
He returned the love, taking off his helmet and tipping his helmet to the crowd who cheered on and on for the beloved former Cub.
“This is the place I grew up, where I learned to be a big leaguer,” Schwarber said. “To get a tribute is great and I appreciate that and I just wanna be able to give a hat tip to the fans here and say thank you as well.”
It wasn’t just the fans that gave Schwarber some love. His former teammates in the dugout and on the field applauded Schwarber and joined the crowd in praising him.
“You play with him for five or six years and you create these memories,” Anthony Rizzo said prior to the game. “You build real friendships. You wish nothing but the best.”
Prior to the game starting, the Cubs played a tribute video to Schwarber on the left field videoboard, which featured plenty of memories from his time donning the Cubs’ pinstripes. There were the highs, like his home run that landed on the scoreboard in the 2015 NLDS against the Cardinals.
“It’s really cool, especially for how much history this field has,” Schwarber said. “It’s an honor for it to still be up there.”
There were the lows, too, like when he tore his ACL at the onset of the 2016 season in Arizona. But ultimately, the video encapsulated the memories and joy that Schwarber brought to Cubs fans in his time in Chicago.
“I made a lot of moments here and had a lot of cool things happen,” Schwarber said.
It was the type of night that would make even swinging a bat hard.
“I’m gonna try and keep my emotions in check just in terms of not getting too excited and going out there trying to hit a 9-run homer, things like that,” Schwarber said. “But it’s definitely gonna be fun.”
He kept those sentiments at bay, crushing a 2-run home run in the 4th inning off Adbert Alzolay. That showed his persona. It was all nice feelings until it was time to play. Then, it was business.
“He’s a competitor, man,” David Ross said. “Talk about a guy that competes and wants to beat you at everything – Kyle Schwarber is the definition of that. That guy wants to win at it all and is the ultimate competitor.”
Because after the tributes and praises, it was time to get down to business. And both the Cubs and Schwarber and his new team had the same thought process Monday: get a win.
“I’m happy to be a Washington National and I’m happy to go out there and I’m happy to try and go help this team, this club go out there and try to win ball games,” Schwarber said. “That’s what I’m about at the end of the day. I’m about winning.
“A lot of the characteristics of myself that I learned throughout playing baseball and being a Major League Baseball player [are] rooted in Chicago.”