Willson Contreras overcome with emotion as he soaks in final 2022 moments at Wrigley Field
One word came to mind as Willson Contreras reflected back on his time in a Cubs uniform:
Pride for all he has accomplished in his career, including three trips to the All-Star Game.
Pride for how he handled this season, blocking out the noise to turn in a successful year on the field while also stepping up as a leader and role model for young teammates.
Pride for fulfilling a promise he made in 2016 to then-manager Joe Maddon when he was first called up to Chicago.
“In 2016, I started with a goal for myself,” Contreras said. “That was reaching the big leagues as soon as I could. And once I got to the big leagues, I told Joe that he was never going to send me down to Triple-A because I’m gonna own this spot.
“Looking back, it makes me proud of the job that I’ve been doing for the last couple years. I know that I’ve put in the right work. I’ve put in everything to improve and I gave my team 100% every single day, even playing through injuries.”
But pride wasn’t the only emotion Contreras felt. He was also filled with gratitude — for the fanbase, the city, the organization, his teammates.
As Contreras stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 8th inning Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the fanbase showered him with appreciation once again. He ultimately walked and was replaced for a pinch-runner, eliciting another standing ovation from the crowd.
Willson Contreras receives a standing ovation at Wrigley. pic.twitter.com/ayF0xKW42f— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) October 2, 2022
It wasn’t the first time this season the fans have shown their appreciation for Contreras, as they also shared an emotional moment at Wrigley Field leading up to the trade deadline.
“He’s been a part of so much winning here,” David Ross said. “From early on and being a World Series starting catcher Game 7, I mean just that on your resume is pretty special. Then going through all that’s gone on here, it was nice for him to get some love.
“He’s got a lot of moments of love this year. It looked like he was taking those in. Those are special, special things that you don’t ever forget as a player when you get to do that.”
After the final out of Sunday’s win was recorded, Contreras sang “Go Cubs Go” with his teammates and then walked to home plate to soak in the moment with the fans who still lingered inside “The Friendly Confines.” Contreras greeted his family with hugs and tried to lock the memory in his brain forever.
“[The fan’s reaction] meant a lot to me. That’s why I wanted to come back and play this whole week because I don’t know what the future holds,” said Contreras, who was activated off the IL Tuesday at the beginning of the homestand. “I don’t know if it’s gonna be my last game with the Cubs or not.
“I enjoy every moment because I’ve been here a long time and I just wanted to take my moment out there. I appreciate where I’ve played for the last [seven] years.”
While Contreras won’t easily forget Sunday’s embrace from the fanbase, it’s the 2016 championship that will always hold a special place in his heart as his top moment with the Cubs.
“The World Series is everything to me and the group of guys we had here in 2016,” Contreras said. “I’m really thankful for those guys that were here in 2016. They guided me the right way and they held me accountable to everything.
“I learned a lot from them. 2016 was everything to me.”