If Chicago Cubs executives claim they haven’t given any thought to who will throw out the first pitch at their home World Series game, Theo, Jed and the Ricketts Family are pulling your leg. Yes, half a millennium has gone by since the Cubbies played in the World Series. But a team that entered the season as the odds-on favorite to play in late October had to give such ceremonial pomp and circumstance a lot of thought.
While the Northsiders would like to have each and every loyal fan toss the ball from the pitcher’s mound before the start of the game, for the sake of time and expedience, the Cubs must pare down the list. In case the series goes at least five games, here are three excellent ideas for honorees to throw out the historic first pitch.
Hall of Famers
For a team that hasn’t experienced much success in the past 60-plus years, the Cubs have more than its share of players in the Hall of Fame. We’d love to see the team round up all the living Hall of Famers who wore a Cubs uniform and, one by one, have them throw the ball from the mound to home. We would put them in two categories: those who played only for the Cubs and those who played for a number of teams, but starred for the Chicago National Leaguers.
Billy Williams, a wonderful left fielder in the ’60s, had more than 2,700 hits and played for the Cubs from 1959–74. Yes, he ended his career with Oakland, but for this exercise, we’ll ignore that. Williams bleeds Cubbies blue. Greg Maddux started with the Cubs and played for eight years; it would be cool to see him throw the ball to Kyle Hendricks, his alleged doppelganger. Andrew Dawson thrilled the Wrigley Field faithful for five years while Fergie Jenkins won a Cy Young with the Cubs in his eight–year tenure. Add Dennis Eckersley, Lou Brock, and Ryne Sandberg to the list, and you have a pregame show to remember.
City of Championships
The Cubs have not made it to the World Series since 1948, but Chicago still has its fair share of titles. Bringing out representatives from the Bears, Bull and Blackhawks would be a sign that the city is proud of its sports legacy. From the Bulls, it begins and ends with Michael Jordan. I saw him play minor league baseball, so I can assure you it’s wise to have him toss the ball from halfway between the mound and home plate.
From the Bears, we must mention Mike Ditka, who played tight end for six seasons with Chicago after the team drafted him in the first round in 1961. Iron Mike also led the 1985 Bears to a Super Bowl win. If Ditka walked to the mound with another Bears player, it must be Hall of Famer Dick Butkus. From the Hawks, we think team captain Jonathan Toews from the 2015 Cup-winning squad is the best choice.
The First Lady
Why Michelle Obama and not the President? For starters, he’s a White Sox fan. Second, Michelle just looks like she’s in such great physical shape that she could fire a bullet from the mound to home plate. Pro sports also run in the First Lady’s bloodline as her brother Craig (no, not the comedian) was an All-Ivy basketball player at Princeton before the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him and he opted to skip pro ball. Ms. Obama’s brother coached for Brown University and Oregon State before joining the coaching staff of the Milwaukee Bucks for the coming season.
If any of the honorees become no-shows, there’s a lengthy list of great fill-ins including John Cusack, Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, and Kanye West (just kidding).