Chicago Cubs: Who will have their number retired next?

Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa AFP PHOTO/John G. MABANGLO (Photo by JOHN G. MABANGLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP via Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa AFP PHOTO/John G. MABANGLO (Photo by JOHN G. MABANGLO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN G. MABANGLO/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have retired five numbers – covering six players – in their team’s history. Here, we look at five candidates for who may be next.

In a previous post, I discussed how the Chicago Cubs haven’t retired the numbers/uniforms of players from their early days, as Ernie Banks was the first player to receive that honor. Now, we’ll shift to more modern players. Who could be the next former Cub – who is now retired – to have their number retired by the team?

It’s a high honor, as the team has only recognized six players in their history in this way: Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Greg Maddux, and Ryne Sandberg. Here we look at five candidates who may be next:

Sammy Sosa (#21): I don’t think anyone doubts Sosa’s place in Cubs history if we’re talking about his stats. He’s the all-time franchise leader in home runs with 545 – and the fact that he played a considerable role in increasing the team’s popularity in the late 1990s. Yet some fans still hold his steroid use against him, while others are still bitter about how he ran out on the team in 2004.

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Indeed, there’s been little indication that Sosa and the Cubs franchise are interested in making amends anytime soon; it’s almost as if his accomplishments have been erased from history. He’s the most deserving player who hasn’t had his number retired, but it depends on if/when he’s invited back to Wrigley Field.

Mark Grace (#17): He was a fixture at first base from 1988 to 2000, collecting 2,201 hits, fifth in franchise history. His 456 doubles are second in team history, while he’s eighth in RBIs with 1,004. While in Chicago, he was a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner.

The fact that he was invited to be an analyst for the new Marquee Sports Network proves that his relationship with the team is good again, while the fans still adore him. If they do decide to retire his number #17, they’ll likely have to wait, as Kris Bryant is currently using it.

Chicago Cubs: Three more candidates

Kerry Wood (#34): He has meant a lot to the history of the franchise, as he was a vital member of the 1998, 2003, and 2007-2008 playoff teams. Many fans would be in favor of it because he’s so popular, but some would argue that the career stats aren’t there.

Though he’s third in team history in strikeouts at 1,470, he only collected 80 wins, only made two All-Star Games, and never placed in NL Cy Young Award voting. Due to injuries, longevity might not be there. If the team were serious about it, like with Grace and #17, they’d have to wait, as Jon Lester also wears #34.

Lee Smith (#46): Smith is the franchise’s all-time saves leader and is a key figure on the 1984 playoff team. The fact that he’s been elected to the Hall of Fame dramatically increases his chances, yet he only played eight (1980-1987) of his 18 years with the Cubs.

For this reason, some would be opposed to it. Yet a precedent was set when the team retired Maddux’s number, even though his best days were in Atlanta. Pedro Strop wore Smith’s #46 until last year, but he’s gone now, so that wouldn’t be an issue.

Andre Dawson (#8): Like with Smith, Dawson has been elected to the Hall of Fame but spent the majority of his career elsewhere. Dawson played 21 years, and only six (1987-1992) were with the Cubs. Yet he was an All-Star in five of those years and won the NL MVP Award in 1987. Dawson ranks 14th in team history in home runs (174) and 25th in RBIs (587). Again, it just depends on how much value the franchise puts on his career accomplishments as a whole.

Next. Some awkward homecomings. dark

Having a number retired by the Cubs is a high honor and one that should not be taken lightly. It’s good that the Cubs have been selective in doing this over the years, but hopefully, they will at least bring these players into consideration in the future.