Results tagged ‘ Billy Williams ’

3/17 Extra bases

There’s usually a surprise player in every spring camp. Manager Joe Maddon is looking for the mystery man in Cubs camp. Maddon hasn’t set the regular season lineup but said Tuesday that the No. 2 batter has been tough to project.

“The two hole is like a mystery,” Maddon said.

Last year, 11 different batters hit second for the Cubs, with Javier Baez getting the most at-bats there with 213. But he posted a .227 on-base percentage. Someone like Tommy La Stella or Chris Coghlan might be a better fit.

“At the end of the day, it’s about feeding the RBI guys — who has the knack to drive in points,” Maddon said. “You would think on the surface guys like [Anthony] Rizzo, [Jorge] Soler and [Kris] Bryant would be classical RBI guys.”

* Looking ahead, Travis Wood will start Friday, Jon Lester on Saturday, and Jason Hammel on Sunday for the Cubs.

* Matt Szczur and Joe Maddon have established the prize in their friendly wager on Villanova vs. Lafayette in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s a sweatshirt — actually, a hoodie — and the loser will have to wear the winning school top for a day. ‘Nova is a 22-point favorite.

* Nice to see Hall of Famer Billy Williams in uniform in camp Tuesday.

— Carrie Muskat

1/31 “We’re here to thank God for Ernie Banks”

Instead of mourning Ernie Banks on Saturday, his teammates, family and friends urged everyone to celebrate the life of Mr. Cub on what would’ve been his 84th birthday.

“We have come here to thank God for Ernie Banks,” Rev. Shannon Kershner said in her welcome statements.

The Fourth Presbyterian Church was nearly full for Banks’ memorial service on Saturday, and the crowd included former Cubs teammates Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, and George Altman, plus Hall of Famers such as Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Lou Brock and Andre Dawson. Also in the crowd were Kerry Wood, Anthony Rizzo, Sean Marshall, Jon Lieber, Minnie Minoso and Scott Sanderson.

Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper, Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer attended, as well as former Chicago Bulls great Bob Love, Blackhawks executives John McDonough and Jay Blunk, White Sox general manager Ken Williams, and former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were there, as well as Joe Torre, who represented Major League Baseball.

Banks’ twin sons, Joey and Jerry, each delivered personal tributes. Joey thanked his dad for letting them come to Wrigley Field, calling it “the best playground ever.”

“Move over Honus Wagner, there’s a new shortstop in heaven,” Joey Banks said.

Jerry wished his father happy birthday, and said the Wrigley family’s decision to purchase Banks’ contract from the Kansas City Monarchs was “the best $10,000 ever spent.”

“Who would’ve imagined you would become the icon of the great city of Chicago, representing not only Chicago but giving the fans love and devotion,” Jerry Banks said. “We’ve heard countless stories of interactions with fans. It makes our mourning his passing easier. For every tear we shed comes ten stories of laughter followed by, ‘That sounds like dad.'”

Jerry then shared three of his father’s favorite sayings to his children:

* “You learn more from losing than winning.”

* “I feel like Tony the Tiger. I feel great.”

* “How do you feel? I feel like I can fly.”

Following the nearly two-hour memorial service, a motorcade carrying the casket passed Banks’ statue in Daley Plaza and then headed north to Wrigley Field. The procession paused outside the ballpark’s marquee at Clark and Addison streets and fans applauded. The crews doing the renovation work at the 100-year-old ballpark also lined the streets to salute Banks one more time.

“He just had an amazing outlook on life,” radio broadcaster Pat Hughes said. “I think he woke up every day trying to make new friends. ‘I’m going to meet as many new friends as I can, I’m going to make as many people happy as I possibly can. he was a rare person.'”

Billy Williams paid homage to Banks by delivering a message for this year’s team.

“I know Ernie would put his stamp of approval on this — ‘The Cubs will win as a team in 2015,'” Williams said.

— Carrie Muskat

1/9 Sosa receives 12.5 percent in HOF vote

Sammy Sosa was in his Miami office on Wednesday, working on his new business ventures. For him, it was a normal work day on a day that was anything but normal for baseball’s Hall of Fame. For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect anyone into the Hall of Fame. Sosa, the former Cubs slugger who belted 609 home runs in his career, received 71 votes (12.5 percent). A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible BBWAA members to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio was the highest vote-getter in the results announced Wednesday, receiving 388 votes (68.2 percent). Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received 272 votes (47.8 percent).

“There was just too much controversy, in my mind, and it hurt guys like Biggio,” Hall of Famer Billy Williams said of the balloting. “[Biggio] had the numbers — you talk about 3,000 hits.”

The controversy revolved around players suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. According to a New York Times story in June 2009, Sosa allegedly was among 104 Major League players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Sosa never was found guilty by an official MLB entity.

“I’m like everybody else — you don’t know enough about it,” said Williams, 74, who was inducted into the Hall in 1987. “We, as outsiders, don’t know. We can only look at the numbers they put up. I was just telling [my wife] Shirley, and remembering that they talked about the people who were on steroids [in the New York Times report], that there were 103 people. We don’t know who was on that list. We don’t know who the 103 were. There’s not enough information to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay.'”

Williams said he would not want any player who did take steroids to be elected to Cooperstown.

“If he took steroids to make himself a better ballplayer, he altered himself as a ballplayer by taking drugs like that,” Williams said. “If he did this, and I was thinking to myself, if a guy did this on a Major League level, and hit home runs, not only did he hurt the Major Leagues but he hurt baseball. There’s hitting and running and stealing bases that make you a baseball player and that makes the game good.

“Eventually, some of these guys will go in [the Hall] when it dies down a little bit,” Williams said. “I think there was too much controversy with this election. Look at Lee Smith. Here’s a guy who was the all-time saves leader for a long time and he’s getting 50, 55 [percent of the] votes every year. He led the league in saves for a long time.”

Williams will be at the ceremony in Cooperstown on July 28. He doesn’t expect the heated and lengthy debate over the Hall of Fame ballot next year because of the players who will be eligible.

“[Tom] Glavine and [Greg] Maddux will overshadow the steroid talk,” Williams said. “You’ve got some great players coming up next year — Frank Thomas, too. We’ll see.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/14 Extra bases: Santo, DeJesus, Campy & more

Ron Santo’s wife, Vicki, his son, Ron Santo Jr., and former teammates Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, and Billy Williams talked about the late third baseman, who was elected into the Hall of Fame in December. The session at the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton was standing room only. All agreed they were sad that the news came after Santo had passed.

“Ronnie would’ve been happier than anybody who’s ever been elected to the Hall of Fame,” said WGN Radio’s Pat Hughes, who was Santo’s partner for 15 years, and the emcee.

Vicki Santo will deliver the speech in honor of her husband in the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown on July 22.

* Extra bases: David DeJesus is the leading candidate to leadoff for the Cubs but Dale Sveum said he’s considering using Tony Campana in certain matchups. … During a Q&A session in which kids were the reporters, Campana was the star. Nearly every question was directed to the speedy outfielder, which prompted Reed Johnson to ask the kids if they did that because the 5-foot-8 Campana was the same size as they were. … Campana, by the way, would have liked to be an astronaut if he wasn’t playing baseball. …  New pitching coach Chris Bosio said he expects the pitchers to be prepared, dictate the tempo of the game, and throw strikes. “We’re going to turn Wrigley Field into a homefield advantage, hopefully like they’ve never seen before,” he said. … The Cubs have not asked for more night games but would like more flexibility with the schedule so they could have a late game on Friday after a road trip, Tom Ricketts said. No plans for a video scoreboard.

— Carrie Muskat

11/8 Cubs convention passes on sale Wednesday

Fans can hear what new Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have to say at the 27th Cubs Convention, Jan. 13-15, at the Hilton Chicago. Weekend passes go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT. Fans can purchase up to six passes per person while they are in supply. Each weekend pass is $60 plus convenience fees, with proceeds benefitting Chicago Cubs Charities. Passes will be available for purchase by visiting Cubs.com or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS.

Besides seminars with Epstein and Hoyer, fans will see Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins at the event.
The 2012 Cubs Convention will feature enhanced layouts and new exhibits, such as an interactive baseball area hosted by the Illinois Baseball Academy, a new electronic gaming zone and the LEGOLAND® Discovery Zone. A weekend pass will include access to those features, as well as autograph/photo opportunities, question and answer sessions, and a variety of memorabilia and vendor booths.

— Carrie Muskat

8/10 Santo’s passion

Everyone has their special memory of Ron Santo. Mike Quade got a chance to interact with the late third baseman and broadcaster daily, and that relationship developed when he got the manager’s job last August.

“What a character,” Quade said of Santo, who will be honored Wednesday with a statue outside Wrigley Field. “Growing up as a kid and all of us who have watched him and the way he went about his business and the blue collar type of approach he had, all of that is near and dear to my heart as well as everybody else’s. The fact you can come to this ballpark and take a look at he and Billy [Williams] and Ernie [Banks] and some of the great players here on a daily basis with a statue out there is something special.”

The Cubs tweaked their batting practice schedule so the players could attend the ceremony on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. Santo’s passion for the Cubs and the game inspired catcher Koyie Hill to create the “PASS10N” t-shirts.

“It was nuts — his passion,” Quade said. “I don’t think I’ve met anybody who had passion like Ronnie did and it was sincere as the day is long. To ride on a plane with him after a loss — you could’ve won 10 in a row and you lose a game and he’s devastated and it was real. I think for all the things you remember about him — and back in the day when you could be with a club for years and years and years, he and Ernie and Billy meant as much to the city as anybody baseball wise, at least in my lifetime.

“We miss him. This is going to be a real good day.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/10 Williams & Santo together again

Billy Williams has shared a spot in the Cubs lineup with Ron Santo, and played with the third baseman in the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues. The Hall of Fame outfielder is more than willing to share his corner at Addison and Sheffield streets outside Wrigley Field.

On Wednesday night, the Cubs will unveil a statue honoring the late Santo, who died in December at the age of 70. The bronze will be placed on the same corner near the right field corner as a statue of Williams.

“I wish he could have been here for this,” Williams said of his former teammate. “I’m really thrilled about it. With Ernie and myself having been pillars of this organization, it’s only fitting for him to have a statue.”

Santo’s statue will be the third of a Cubs player, joining Banks, whose bronze is at the Clark and Addison corner, and Williams, whose statue was added last year. There also is a bronze of broadcaster Harry Caray at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland.

“We’ve been sharing third, fourth place all the time [in the lineup],” said Williams, who played for the Cubs from 1959-74, while Santo played from 1960-73. “We were in Double-A, Triple-A baseball together. Rogers Hornsby put his stamp of approval on us. It’s nice [the statues are together]. I like sharing the corner with the guy.”

Williams will join Santo’s former teammates Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Hundley and Glenn Beckert at the festivities, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. CT.

— Carrie Muskat

8/8 Santo statue dedication on Wednesday

The Cubs will unveil a statue of late third baseman and broadcaster Ron Santo on Wednesday at the corner of Sheffield and Addison streets outside Wrigley Field. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. CT, and guests scheduled to attend include members of the Santo and Ricketts families and several of Santo’s teammates, including Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, Milt Pappas and Billy Williams. In honor of the event, the Cubs will donate $10 from every ticket sold on Cubs.com using the special promo code “JDRF.” The Cubs play host to the Nationals that night at Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

3/18 Golf tourney raises $25,000

The inaugural Chicago Cubs Charities Celebrity Golf Tournament raised $25,000 for charitable organizations in Mesa on Friday. Proceeds will be shared between Chicago Cubs Charities, Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center and the Mesa HoHoKam Foundation. More than 70 golfers participated, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams, GM Jim Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush, radio broadcaster Keith Moreland, Major Leaguers Bill Buckner, Mariano Duncan, Jeff Fassero, and John “Blue Moon” Odom, and Phoenix Suns Tim Kempton and Eddie Johnson.

— Carrie Muskat

3/17 Get well, Luis Salazar

Blake DeWitt was watching the Braves’ Spring Training game on TV Wednesday, hoping for news about his former Minor League manager and hitting coach Luis Salazar. Salazar, who played for the Cubs from 1989-92, lost his left eye in a freak accident when he was hit in the face by a foul ball during a Grapefruit League game.

“He was a very good friend,” DeWitt said Thursday. “He was a great guy, fun to be around, loved the game. He was a joy to be around every day. It’s an unfortunate deal. I saw that he lost his eye. You’re also thankful he’s still alive. He’s definitely in my thoughts and my prayers are with him and his family.”

Are there things Salazar taught DeWitt that he still uses?

“He just loved the game,” DeWitt said. “He was full of energy, fun to be around, knowledgeable, willing to help anybody. It was a freak accident.”

Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams said he began this spring standing on the top step to watch the games. After the Salazar incident, Williams said he moved back behind the screens.

“You can’t guard against everything,” Williams said.

There aren’t many options to protect players and coaches in the dugouts unless they put screens over the entire thing.

“It’s just one of those things — you’re so close,” DeWitt said. “Sometimes you don’t have   a chance. Every once in a while, it happens [that someone is hit] and it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more.”

— Carrie Muskat

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