5. Gary “The Sarge” Matthews Sr: 1984 – 1987.
When you think back to the Cubs’ wild 1984 season, names like the previously mentioned Sutcliffe and Ryne Sandberg get brought up as some of the critical pieces to that team. It would be easy then to overlook the impact of the team’s veteran outfielder: “The Sarge.”
Gary Matthews may very well go down as one of the most underrated Chicago Cubs players of all time, but that’s a list for a different day. Matthews had a somewhat short tenure with the team as well, but he made the most out of it, particularly in the 1984 season.
Matthews finished fifth in MVP voting in 1984, hitting for a respectable 129 OPS+ and being a prolific on-base guy. He led the league with a .410 on-base percentage, providing support for the other hitters in the team’s lineup.
As a nickname, “The Sarge” is one that you can only truly earn if you’re a competent, inspiring leader willing to take charge for your team. Matthews saw it as his job to lead by example and take charge when it came to manufacturing runs for the Chicago Cubs.
I love the nickname and believe that earning such a moniker can help to motivate teammates looking for a veteran presence to guide them and demonstrate how to play the game of baseball with as much fire as possible. Matthews was a sort of spark plug for the team, and I can’t imagine the challenge pitchers faced knowing “The Sarge” was about to kick things off for his squad.