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2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: 26 Days

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It's a Hall of Famer's turn today.

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I've written about Billy Williams here many times, and the Hall of Famer's career achievements are well known.

You probably also know that Larry Biittner and Fritzie (Yes, "Fritzie" was his actual given name) Connally wore No. 26 after Billy left the Cubs, before it was retired on the occasion of his Hall induction in 1987.

A couple of facts you might not know: the last player to wear No. 26 before Billy was Moe Drabowsky, who pitched for the Cubs from 1956-60 before going on (as so many did in those years) to better times with other teams.

Billy could have made another number famous. In 1959, on his first call-up, he was issued No. 4. The next year, also as a September callup, he wore No. 41.

But after clubhouse manager Yosh Kawano created his "system" of numbering players (catchers single digits, infielders 10-19, outfielders 20-29, pitchers 30 and higher), Billy was given No. 26 in 1961, the year he won the National League Rookie of the Year award. Billy's home-run and RBI totals in '61 (25 and 86) stood as Cubs team rookie records until Kris Bryant broke them in 2015.

Billy's 77 now and still in good health; he appeared at the Cubs Convention last week and is often at spring training and at Wrigley Field. His Cubs teams never made it to the World Series, but I know getting there and winning one would mean a great deal to him. Hopefully, this year.