Lately the trend in sports has been complying a Mount Rushmore of players to sum up an era or team with only four great players. The Chicago Cubs are a franchise filled with decades of history and great players. To scan through the record books and only choose four worthy icons is a difficult task. With only four spots to fill, how would the history of the Cubs be mounted and represented?
The first bust carved on the mountain has to be “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks. Banks is synonymous with the Cubs’ organization and is a living legend within the game, and not just in the city of Chicago. He is a two-time MVP, he still holds several team records to this day and is a Hall of Famer.
Banks was also honored with receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. Depending on the court of public opinion, he could also be considered the only Cub to legitimately hit over 500 career home runs. With all due respect to Cubs icon Sammy Sosa who could also make a case for this list, he is a player that was caught up in the PED cloud and steroid era. For that reason, Sosa is one of the many great Cubs left off of the mountain top.
Next up would be fan favorite within the city, Ron Santo. Santo was a great player for the Cubs winning batting titles, gold gloves and a multiple All-Star selection. He was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. An honorable mention can also be given to Billy Williams. Santo also became the radio voice for the team after his playing days which was comedy mixed with a little baseball. On the mountain, Santo would also represent the lineage of legendary broadcasters of the Cubs which includes Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse.
Filling the final two spots is where the task becomes difficult. In the 1980s and 90s, the Cubs suited up some pretty good players including Mark Grace and Andre Dawson. However, that era would likely be best represented by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
Sandberg was the 1984 MVP, a Hall of Famer and is one of the best at his position in MLB history. He was also a manager within the organization’s minor league ranks before moving over to the Philadelphia Phillies. Years after his playing days, No. 23 Sandberg jerseys are still widely popular inside Wrigley Field.
Finally, the next spot is reserved for one of the many pitchers that has toed the rubber for the franchise. The Cubs have the No. 31 retired by two of the game’s best pitchers: Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. Jenkins twice led the league in wins and had six straight seasons of at least 20 wins. Maddux is the modern-day crafty veteran. He did not light up the radar gun, but his resume certainly speaks for itself. Maddux will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year, and had he chosen to don the Cubs logo on his bust, it would have been the deciding detail for this list.
Rather, the final spot may sound out of the ordinary, but Kerry Wood would be on the Cubs’ Mount Rushmore for me. His career may not be Hall of Fame bound, but to modern era Cub fans, nobody represents the franchise better than Wood. He was “Kid K” when he broke into the league and won Rookie of the Year.
Wood’s 20-strikeout game is one of the most memorable Cubs games in the last two decades, and he was a class act on and off of the field. Wood ended his career by striking out his final batter and walked off of the field to a standing ovation. Since retiring, Wood is still a fan favorite among 21st century fans, and because of the way he represents the organization with his charity work, he makes the list.
To sum up, my Cubs Mount Rushmore would feature Banks, Santo, Sandberg and Wood. With this being the 100-year Anniversary of Wrigley Field, perhaps this could be a future promotional item? Unlikely, but trying to come up with four great names for any team is always a fun debate. In the words of the immortal Harry Caray, “Holy Cow!” How would your mountain look?
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.