With the retirement of the Bears' Brian Urlacher the other day, CSN Chicago's John Mullin wrote this article, inspired by a similar piece at Pro Football Talk, on who he'd put on the Bears' "Mount Rushmore" -- in other words, who are the four most influential figures in the history of the franchise?
This got me thinking, naturally: who would go on a similar Mount Rushmore for the Cubs?
This isn't as easy as it looks, especially given the 137-year history of the Chicago National League ballclub, and its great success up until 1945. It's very easy, especially for all of us here, most of whom weren't alive then, to skew this toward modern figures that we all know and love.
Unfortunately, the poll apparatus here doesn't allow for multiple selections, so I can't post a poll. What I will do is ask you to select your four, post in the comments, along with some reasons why you picked those men.
Here are my four (not in any particular order), and my reasoning:
This one's a gimme -- "Mr. Cub" would have to go on any list of the most important people in Cubs history; in addition to his sunny image, his statistical achievements tower over just about anyone who's ever played for the Cubs. What many don't remember is that Ernie suffered a couple of serious injuries, one to his wrist, the other to his knee; before that he was likely headed to a career similar to that of his peers Willie Mays or Hank Aaron, two of the best players in the history of the game. It's a credit to Ernie that he put up the numbers he did, in the face of those injuries.
Santo had two Cubs careers -- as a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner at third base, putting up excellent offensive numbers in a pitchers' era, and as a beloved radio broadcaster for more than two decades. There's no one who loved being a Cub more than Ron, although at the time he departed by trade, there were many Cubs fans happy to see him go, as there were parts of his playing career that were somewhat controversial. Even if you didn't like his broadcasting style, you had to love his love for the team, and admire his dignity and perseverance in the face of devastating health isssues.
Though Chance didn't play very long -- nor manage the team for as long as he might have, given health issues that caused his death at the age of just 48 -- his influence on the Cubs of the first decade of the 20th Century can't be overstated. In addition to being a fine player -- he averaged .306/.404/.410 with a 146 OPS+ from 1903-1908, in the deadest of deadball years -- he was a fine manager and leader of men, who averaged 96 wins a year in his eight years as leader of the team. He's the only man to win a World Series as Cubs manager, and his 768 wins still ranks third in team history, behind Charlie Grimm and...
This was the toughest call of all. Anson had his issues, which are well documented, but his dominance over baseball in the 19th Century has him towering over any other player or manager in baseball before 1900. He was the first player to register 3,000 hits; he managed the Cubs for 19 seasons, winning 1,282 games in seasons far shorter than today's 162-game schedule. Anson was one of the best-known men in Chicago, not just in sports, in his day; he was once elected Chicago City Clerk. He's been gone for 91 years, but his legacy still towers over the franchise.
Among others I considered (remember, you can only choose four, and it wasn't easy to eliminate some of these men): Ryne Sandberg, Charlie Grimm, Phil Cavarretta, Gabby Hartnett, William Wrigley, Charles W. Murphy, Mordecai Brown.
All right, it's your turn. Have at it.