Chicago Cubs: Pat Hughes, the voice of some amazing memories
Chicago Cubs radio man Pat Hughes continues to be one of the best parts of loving this team – even after over two decades calling the game on the North Side.
The Chicago Cubs have boasted some outstanding broadcasters over the years. The iconic Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray, simply put, were the Cubs for years and years. Their legacy lives on today in so many ways – both at Wrigley Field and in the hearts of fans everywhere.
But down the road, when we look back at these recent years of Cubs baseball, there’s going to be a new name in their ranks in current radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes. The 2018 campaign will mark 40 years since he first called games for the San Jose Missions. Five years later, he was behind the mic for the Minnesota Twins.
In 1988, Hughes took a job with the Marquette men’s basketball team handling the play-by-play duties. Prior to joining Cubs radio, Hughes worked along side Bob Uecker calling games for the Milwaukee Brewers. After a 12-year stint with the Brewers, Hughes joined the Cubs’ broadcasting ranks in 1996.
In Hughes’ first season as Cubs’ radio man, the team posted a record of 76-86, finishing fourth in the National League Central. That year’s Cubs team was led by 32-year-old Mark Grace who slashed .331/.396/.455 with nine home runs and 75 RBI. Along with Grace, the 1996 Cubs also featured a 40-home run performance from a 27-year-old Sammy Sosa and a lackluster campaign from an aging Ryne Sandberg.
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With Hughes providing the call, the Cubs made the postseason in 1998, only to be swept in the division series by the Atlanta Braves.
Hughes had to wait until the 2003 season to call a division-winning season. Under manager Dusty Baker, the Cubs won 88 games, ultimately falling to the Florida Marlins in the NLCS (thanks Bartman … just kidding).
The Cubs made back-to-back playoff appearances in both 2007 and 2008, winning the NL Central crown both years. Chicago, however, lost via sweep in the first round in each of those seasons.
After that 2008 sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs didn’t make it back to the postseason until 2015. They failed to win another division crown until 2016. Through all the down years and constant fifth place finishes, Hughes pushed on, never getting too high or too low behind the microphone.
The postseason years
Beginning in 2015, the Cubs entered what fans hope to be a long window of winning on the North Side. And, like always, Hughes was the man behind the microphone. After a “warm-up” season in 2015 in which the Cubs won 97 games and made it all the way to the NLCS, many knew 2016 was the Cubs’ year.
The team did not disappoint, winning 103 games and eventually capturing their first World Series title in 108 years. Lost in the team’s historic run in 2016, Pat Hughes became the first Cubs’ broadcaster to call a Cubs’ World Series championship.
He did so with these words:
"“A little bouncer, slowly towards Bryant. He will glove it and throw to Rizzo – it’s in time! And the Chicago Cubs win the World Series! The Cubs come pouring out of the dugout, jumping up and down like a bunch of delirious 10-year-olds. The Cubs have done it! The longest drought in the history of American sports is over, and the celebration begins!”"
Joy in his voice every step of the way
In my mind, there are few people other than Hughes who deserved to see the Cubs win a World Series title. After so many losing seasons and not having much to cheer for over the last 20 years, Hughes finally got a moment to celebrate. Last year, he had this to say about the magical run in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.
"“Last year, I found that I was exhilarated to the point, in the postseason, where I never felt more alive in my entire career.”"
That feeling certainly will not subside as the Cubs seem to be set up for the long haul. Most of this club’s core remains under team control for several years – with one of the best in the business, Theo Epstein, running the show.
Decades in the business – hopefully many more to come
Hughes has been broadcasting sports for more than 30 years. In all that time, one would be hard-pressed to find a team better constructed than the Cubs of recent years. While he may not be able to be on the field playing, the excitement of being around a winning team has no doubt brought even more joy and fun to Hughes’ job.
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Most Cubs’ fans are probably used to Hughes’ voice from listening to him call games over the years. After 2016, not only will Cubs fans know Hughes’ voice but so will just about every baseball fan, because of one game.