Sights and sounds: Fergie Jenkins Day at Wrigley Field
Fergie Jenkins will be forever immortalized outside Wrigley Field.
His statue was unveiled Friday morning at Gallagher Way, sitting alongside Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.
“When I was a little kid growing up in Chatham, Ontario throwing rocks at passenger trains, never did I imagine being a 20-game winner, being an All-Star, winning a Cy Young and being a member of the 3000-strikeout club or even being in the Hall of Fame,” Jenkins said in his speech. “But now this statue is sitting beside my fellow teammates — Ernie, Billy and Ronnie. Believe me, I’m humbled. I stand here a proud man, also humble.”
It was a momentous occasion at the “Friendly Confines” on an 80-degree day with a slight chance of rain that ended up holding off.
It was a bit windy, but that didn’t come as a surprise to Jenkins.
“I wish the wind would stop,” Jenkins said, laughing as the wind kept threatening to blow his papers away. “The wind’s blowing out to right field. Watch out, boys. Sheesh. I pitched many a day coming up Addison and turning onto the ballpark and going, ‘oh, the wind’s blowing out again today.'”
Several of Jenkins’ teammates were in attendance, including Williams, Lee Smith and Randy Hundley.
Other Cubs legends graced the ceremony like Kerry Wood, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson (plus Mark Grace on Marquee Sports Network).
There were also a couple of recent ballplayers in C.C. Sabathia and Adam Jones.
Sabathia and Jenkins became close when Sabathia was in the midst of his career. The southpaw won the Warren Spahn Award — handed out to the best left-handed pitcher in MLB — three times and would always see Jenkins at the ceremony in Oklahoma.
“We just kind of formed a relationship from there,” Sabathia said. “When I went from Cleveland to New York, he reached out and talked to me about pitching in a big city and pitching for that franchise and what it would mean for me. He’s always just been a great friend and a good mentor and I thought it’d be great for me to be able to come here and watch him get honored. It’s awesome.”
Sabathia — like many others — is in awe of what Jenkins was able to accomplish in his career.
The Hall of Fame righty racked up an incomprehensible 267 complete games in his career, with 154 of those coming in a Cubs uniform over the course of 10 seasons.
To put that in perspective, the Cubs have 143 complete games as a team since the start of the 1993 season.
Jenkins also had seven 20-win seasons in his career, including six straight from 1967-72.
“That’s what stands out to me,” David Ross said. “Those guys didn’t come off the mound and their mentality, it’s fun to listen to them tell stories. … I was looking at some of his stats — the 20-win seasons, it just jumped off the page to me. Like, what? Just what a big deal it is to get one of those in my playing days and my era and now it’s like he had [seven]. Pretty impressive.
“Kudos to him, the organization. Him being around I think is a great ambassador for our organization. I’m super happy for him and his family and he’s getting that recognition out there and historically gonna be here forever.”
Jed Hoyer called the row of statues a Mount Rushmore outside Wrigley.
“It’s amazing,” Hoyer said. “With all those guys, it’s been one of the most fun things for me over the years. Billy sits in the box next to us. We talk to him almost every night. There’s nothing more fun than talking to him about [Don] Drysdale or [Sandy] Koufax or having those conversations. It’s the same thing with Fergie. Unfortunately Ernie died pretty soon after we got here, so we only got to know him a little bit.
“It’s so valuable to have those legends back here. When you see those guys in Spring Training — add [Rick Sutcliffe] and Ryno into that group — it’s incredible to have these guys, to have Cy Young winners and MVPs and Hall of Famers to be able to look up to and to pick their brain and just to walk around among them.”
Watch: Fergie Jenkins joins Cubs Live!