Results tagged ‘ Billy Williams ’

1/15 Remembering Ronnie

The Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Chicago was packed Saturday as Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, plus Randy Hundley, Jose Cardenal, Glenn Beckert, and Milt Pappas shared stories about Ron Santo. There were lots of laughs during the hour-long segment, clearly the most popular of all the events at the Cubs Convention. Beckert said when he first joined the Cubs, he was thrilled to learn he would room with Santo on the road. “About a year later, I found out nobody else on the team wanted to room with him,” Beckert said.

Banks recalled Santo’s competitive spirit, saying “Billy would hit a home run and Ronnie would want to hit a home run.”

“He was like a brother to me,” Banks said. “I always think about him — he’s my friend.”

Santo died Dec. 3 from bladder cancer. He was 70. The Cubs will honor him with a No. 10 patch on their uniforms and also dedicate a bronze statue outside Wrigley Field.

– Carrie Muskat

1/15 Ramirez comes through

Aramis Ramirez was victimized by counterfeit tickets during an autograph session Saturday at the Cubs Convention. Ramirez was scheduled to sign, starting at 12:30 p.m., although it was only for lottery winners. Apparently, someone made fake tickets, and Ramirez left the session before everyone in line was able to get their souvenirs signed. That included people with legitimate tickets. Hall of Famer Billy Williams also had the same problem and left his autograph session as well. The Cubs were able to take care of the people who had legitimate tickets for Ramirez, who did sign items later in the day.

This was the first Cubs Convention for Ramirez, who took part in an entertaining seminar titled “The Dominican Way of Life” with teammates Carlos Pena and Starlin Castro. Ramirez admitted his father didn’t want him to play baseball but wanted him to be a doctor. He didn’t start playing until he was 13 years old. Ramirez went to one tryout in the Dominican Republic, and the Pirates wanted to sign him immediately. But his father made him finish high school before he could turn pro.

– Carrie Muskat

1/12 Cubs radio update

The Cubs and WGN Radio will not announce Ron Santo’s replacement as color analyst at the weekend Cubs Convention. Interviews are currently being conducted and an announcement was expected sometime before Spring Training games begin.

Santo died Dec. 3 at the age of 70. The Cubs will celebrate him during the Convention in a seminar called “Remembering Ronnie,” to be held Saturday at the Hilton Chicago. Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins plus Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Milt Pappas and Jose Cardenal will share some of stories about their teammate.

Who will take over for Santo? It most likely will not be Mark Grace or Rick Sutcliffe, two fan favorites. Grace is currently an analyst for the Diamondbacks and does work for FOX TV, while Sutcliffe signed a new contract with ESPN. The Cubs and WGN Radio are looking for a former Cubs player to do the job, but they want someone who can commit to the full 162-game schedule.

– Carrie Muskat 

1/6 Cubs convention schedule

Want to ask Greg Maddux a question about his job with the Cubs? Maybe you’d like to talk to the Ricketts family? How about hearing Kerry Wood or Andrew Cashner discuss pitching? Or maybe you’d like to reminisce about Ron Santo? Those are some of the seminars scheduled for the 26th Cubs Convention, to be held Jan. 14-16 at the Hilton Chicago.

One of the best sessions may be Jan. 15 when Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins plus Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Milt Pappas and Jose Cardenal share some of their favorite stories in “Remembering Ronnie.” The former Cubs will celebrate Santo, who died Dec. 3 at the age of 70.

The Jan. 15 schedule opens with the “Ricketts Family Forum,” giving Cubs fans a chance to ask ownership about their plans. Maddux, a special assistant to GM Jim Hendry, will join Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush and manager Mike Quade in a “Meet Cubs Baseball Management” session.

Other seminars include:

* “Pitching Evolution:” Wood, Cashner, Randy Wells, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija and new pitching coach Mark Riggins will explain the art of being a starting pitcher, set-up man and closer, the differences between the roles, and the pressures and rewards that come with each.

* “The Q Factor:” Quade and his coaching staff, including Riggins, Rudy Jaramillo, Lester Strode, Ivan DeJesus, Bob Dernier and Dave Keller, will discuss their techniques and philosophies heading into the 2011 season.

* “The Dominican Way of Life:” Aramis Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Carlos Pea and player development director Oneri Fleita will talk about their transition from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Fleita also will discuss how the organization scouts and develops international players to the U.S.

* “Down on the Farm:” Fleita and scouting director Tim Wilken will discuss future Cubs on Jan. 16. They will be preceded by a seminar featuring Tyler Colvin, James Russell, Darwin Barney and Scott Maine, who will talk about making the adjustment from the Minors to the big leagues. Both sessions will be completed in time to watch the Bears’ playoff game.

– Carrie Muskat

12/10 Celebrating Santo

It was an impressive turnout Friday at Ron Santo’s funeral at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Among the guests to pay respects to the broadcaster and third baseman were Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams, as well as Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley. The casket was first escorted up the steps of the church by Cubs traveling secretary Jimmy Bank, WGN Radio engineer Matt Boltz, and some of Santo’s radio partners, including Andy Masur, Cory Provus and Judd Sirott.

“It was our last pregame show together,” said Masur, now a broadcaster with the Padres.

Pat Hughes, who was Santo’s partner for 15 seasons on WGN Radio delivered a tribute as did Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

“Ron was the fans’ broadcaster — he was the fan in the booth,” Ricketts said.

Others at the service included Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, and broadcasters Gary Matthews, Thom Brennaman, Len Kasper, and Bob Brenly. Several Cubs players, past and present, were, including Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Koyie Hill, Tom Gorzelanny, Justin Berg, Ted Lilly, Kevin Orie, Dave Otto and Scott Sanderson. Cubs manager Mike Quade, general manager Jim Hendry and the rest of the team’s front office also were present to pay respects.

“He’s the No. 1 Cubs fan ever,” Hughes said.

Santo got one last look at Wrigley Field as the funeral procession did a lap of the ballpark.

– Carrie Muskat

12/3 Sad news travels fast

Billy Williams was awakened Friday morning by a phone call with the news. His teammate and friend for more than 50 years, Ron Santo, was gone.

“I thought he was going to live forever after all the tragedies and stuff he’s gone through,” Williams said. “It’s hard to believe that all of a sudden you get a call this morning, a guy you’ve known for so long has passed away.

“In baseball, there’s so many ups and downs,” he said. “Man, it was sad to hear that.”

Santo, who was in Arizona, lapsed into a coma Wednesday, and died of complications from bladder cancer. He was 70.

Sitting on a white chaise near the pool at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus on the last day of a Cubs’ fan trip to the Dominican Republic, Williams reflected.

“This was really not a teammate,” Williams said. “He’s a friend — it’s like losing a family member. When I lost my brother, it’s the same reaction. We became friends in 1959 and through those years, going back and forth to the ballpark, sitting on the bench, talking about the Cubs. It’s just a sad day for the Cubs fans and baseball.

“People who listened to Ronnie and Pat [Hughes on WGN Radio], they’re going to miss that,” he said. “[Santo] kept a lot of people laughing through his radio analysis. He and Pat were there everyday at 1:20 [p.m. when the games started at Wrigley] listening to the game. When you listened to them, you didn’t have to know the score. If he’s in that mode [when he moans], you know we’re losing.”

The Cubs fans on the trip also were shook by the news. They’d lost their voice.

“It’s a crying shame he didn’t live to see himself in the Hall [of Fame] or the Cubs in a World Series,” said Don Parker of Warsaw, Ind. “It’s a bigger loss than most Cubs fans realize.

“The ’69 team was my favorite,” Parker said. “Santo was great not only because of what he did for the Cubs as a player and a broadcaster but what he’s done for the [Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation]. He’s a special dude.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 Postcard from Boca Chica

At the Cubs’ academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, fans were treated to pitching tips from Sean Marshall and Koyie Hill and some advice on hitting from Hall of Famer Billy Williams. At the end of the session, Billy even got into the batting cage to take a few swings — and he was still able to line the ball to right field with one of the prettiest swings you’ll ever see. He’s still got it.

– Carrie Muskat

9/15 Colvin hits 20th HR

Tyler Colvin became the fourth rookie in Cubs history to hit 20 home runs in a season when he connected on a three-run shot in the seventh inning Wednesday. Colvin homered off St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, hitting a 3-2 pitch into the right field seats.

Colvin joins Hall of Famer Billy Williams (25 homers in 1961), Geovany Soto (23 in 2008) and Walt Moryn (23 in 1956) to accomplish the feat for the Cubs. Williams and Soto both won National League Rookie of the Year.

– Carrie Muskat

9/7 Sweet swinging Billy

The Cubs unveiled a statue of Hall of Famer Billy Williams on Tuesday that captures the young outfielder as he’s coming out of the batter’s box after hitting a home run. The bronze is at the corner of Addison and Sheffield streets.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Williams, accompanied by his wife, Shirley, and several family members and teammates, including Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Hundley and Glenn Beckert.

On one side of the base of the statue are Williams’ No. 26, and on the opposite side is “Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams. He has spent 52 years with the Cubs as a player, a coach, a special assistant and now as a senior advisor.

“I’m living proof that perseverance really can make a dream come true,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

9/6 Williams statue to be unveiled Tuesday

Billy Williams has been tempted more than once to stop at Addison and Sheffield streets outside Wrigley Field and peek under the blue cloth covering the bronze statue of the Hall of Famer.

“I’ve thought several times about going there and taking it off to see it to make sure it’s all right,” Williams said Monday.

The Cubs will formally unveil the statue on Tuesday in a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. CT. Several of Williams’ family, friends and former teammates will be on hand, including Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

“I’m excited,” Williams said. “I’ve been excited since [Spring Training in] Arizona when it was first mentioned that a statue would be unveiled here on [Sept. 7]. I’ve been looking forward to it and anticipating. The closer you get, the more excited you get. [Tuesday] is going to be an exciting day, and not only for me but fans and friends and family. I look at it as a monumental thing.”

Williams and his wife Shirley did get a peek early in the process before the statue was installed on the corner outside of Wrigley.

“I don’t care how it looks,” Williams said. “Just to have a statue on the outer walls of the ballpark where you performed, where you had a great time playing the game, that’s something you don’t dream of.”

– Carrie Muskat

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