The playoffs have arrived and the Chicago Cubs are ready to begin their quest to the World Series. With that, the Cubs have announced the special guests that be a part of Game 1 of the NLDS tonight.
Game 1 of the National League Division Series is just a few short hours away. The Chicago Cubs Twitter account announced some of the special guests/former Cubs that will partake in tonight’s game.
In typical Cubs fashion, Wayne Messmer will kick things off with the National Anthem prior to the start of the game. It’s no secret that Messmer is one of the best at what he does, but many Chicago fans will tell you that Jim Cornelison, the Blackhawks anthem singer, is better. Cornelison has sung the National Anthem at Wrigley before, but it’s only customary that Messmer kicks things off.
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Another familiar face with throw out tonight’s first pitch, as former Cub Billy Williams will have that honor. Williams spent 16 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He was a six-time All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year award in 1962, and had his number 26 retired in 1987. Nicknamed Sweet Swingin’, Williams is one of the many honored and well-respected Cubs players in franchise history.
Mike Ditka will yell the words “Play Ball” before the start of the game. Ditka has had some ups and downs over the last few years across Chicago. Ditka wore a Packers jersey in a McDonald’s commercial a few years ago that sparked controversy in Chicago.
He also infamously sung the Seventh Inning Stretch for the Cubs in 1998. Those that remember that day saw Ditka barely make it into the Cubs broadcast in time to sing the stretch. He then proceeded to sing the stretch faster than anyone has ever seen. Even Cubs’ organist Gary Pressy couldn’t keep up with him.
Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster will perform tonight’s Seventh Inning Stretch. Both of these former Cubs have been a part of the franchise since their retirement. Both pitchers had up and down careers for the Cubs, with Wood’s mainly plagued by injuries. Despite injuries and struggles during the NLCS in 2003 against the Marlins, Wood was able to revive his career as a reliever for the Cubs in 2008. That helped the Cubs get the playoffs that year. He then returned to the Cubs in 2011 before retiring a Cub in 2012. Wood is still actively involved with the Cubs team, doing some coaching in Spring Training.
Dempster, also famous for struggles in the playoffs, had several solid years with the Cubs as well. Dempster is known for his Harry Caray impressions and is frequently seen in Spring Training or other Cubs events. The Cubs traded Dempster to the Rangers in 2013 and received Kyle Hendricks in return. Hendricks has put together a Cy Young caliber season and is a big part of the Cubs success this season.
It should be a fun start to the NLDS and we will see what the Cubs have in store for Saturday’s game. Hopefully, there will be many more games at Wrigley this season.