A pitch-perfect idea: Cubs to add statue of Fergie Jenkins to Wrigley Field grounds
The Hall of Fame pitcher will join Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Harry Caray in bronze at the ballpark.
Move over, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Harry Caray.
Come to think of it, statues can’t really move, can they?
But a fifth statue is coming to Wrigley Field, to be unveiled sometime in 2022. This one will be of Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, the Cubs announced Tuesday.
Fergie forever — it has a heck of a nice ring to it.
“I think it’s going to be outstanding to join my fellow teammates,” Jenkins said.
“I had the distinct honor to have my number retired as a Chicago Cub. That was an honor in itself. And now this is going to be, as they say, the icing on the cake.”
A No. 31 flag flies — right below Banks’ 14 and Santo’s 10 — high up the left-field foul pole. As for Jenkins in bronze? The Cubs haven’t decided where on the ballpark grounds it will be placed. Jenkins, 78, wouldn’t mind being out front of Wrigley with Banks, his old roommate. Then again, being out back with Williams and Santo doesn’t sound bad at all.
“Wherever they erect it, it’s going to be an honor,” he said. “Believe me.”
The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany — the same company that produced the statues of Santo, Williams, Banks and Caray at Wrigley Field and the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center — will create the piece.
Assuming Jenkins gets a vote, he thinks he’d look pretty darn good in his long-limbed follow-through. There’s also a 1971 Sports Illustrated cover shot of him in his windup that might be a fine choice to recreate. Jenkins also mentioned the work of former longtime Cubs photographer Barney Sterling as a possible inspiration.
Again, though: Wherever, whatever.
“I’m quite happy with the situation,” he said. “I talked to [chairman Tom] Ricketts about a week ago, and he wanted to get my permission to have a statue made of me. And I said, ‘Go right ahead. I’d love to have one.”
Jenkins spent 10 of his 19 major league seasons (1966-73, 1982-83) with the Cubs. His six 20-win seasons tie him with Mordecai Brown for the most in franchise history. In 1971, he became the Cubs’ first Cy Young winner. As a Cub, he was 167-132 with 154 complete games, 29 shutouts and a 3.20 ERA in 401 games.
One might even say he was pretty good.
“With Santo, Ernie and myself, Fergie was a big, big part of all that,” Williams said. “I think a statue of Fergie is really appropriate by the Chicago Cubs. It will be beautiful. I look forward to being [at the unveiling] and really giving him my support. I’m so glad about my teammate and friend.”
It has been an especially sad stretch for the Hall and its members, with 10 legends dying since the start of 2020. Jenkins paused amid happy talk of his honor to reference Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Whitey Ford and others.
“It’s just incredible that our lives are numbered, as you call it,” he said. “We’re all getting older. You never can tell what illness is going to pop up all of the sudden.”
Jenkins is in wonderful health. You won’t find an ex-ballplayer his age who looks more as though he could still play. One hopes he will be able to enjoy this honor for many years to come.
“Wrigley Field was my home,” he said. “That’s where it all started. Even though I signed with the Phillies and I came up with [them], Wrigley Field is where I really had a chance to use my ability and have fun playing.”
Fergie forever — yes, indeed.