Chicago Cubs: Which ‘modern’ teammates will have their number retired?

Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Javier Baez - Chicago Cubs (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Javier Baez - Chicago Cubs (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs list of retired numbers isn’t incredibly extensive, but who could be the next player to join the list?

When a professional sports team–especially the Chicago Cubs— retires a number or jersey, it can be the highest honor bestowed on the player that wore the jersey number aside from being inducted into the respective sport’s Hall of Fame. Currently, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, and Greg Maddux all have their flags flying above the outfield fences.

Maddux is the only member on the list who did not spend the majority of his career with the Cubs. Maddux played ten years for the Cubs across two stints in the Windy City, and spent 11 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, winning the World Series in 1995. Maddux also has his number 31 retired with the Braves, the only member of the Cubs’ retired number club with his name retired by a second team.

Other Cub legends should have their number retired, but haven’t gotten the honor yet, such as Andre Dawson (8), Lee Smith (46, also worn recently by long-time Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop) and of course Sammy Sosa (21). Dawson only spent five years of his twenty-year career with the Cubs, however, and Smith spent seven full years of his career with the Cubs. Sosa and the Cubs’ relationship has been strained for years, and it may be impossible to fix it.

An argument could also be made for Kerry Wood having his number 34 retired in a few years after Jon Lester is no longer a member of the organization. Wood is most famous for his 20-strikeout game in his fifth start ever in the Major Leagues, but could never really stay healthy after that, eventually becoming a relief pitcher and even closed games for the Cubs in 2008.

Maybe the Cubs will retire 34 for both Wood and Lester, ala Jenkins and Maddux. Both players are deserving in their own way.