Over at CubTracker I started a Friday series that looked at life and baseball and the Cubs from those who have actually played for the team. Thus far I have highlighted Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Billy Williams and Randy Hundley. Fergie is my first player spotlight for the VFTB. These excerpts are from Carrie Muskat’s superb compilation, Banks to Sandberg to Grace, a recommended read from your humble correspondent. You will find it at your favorite outlet for fine Cub literature. Next week: Ron Santo.
These youngsters today, they donít know how to pitch. You learn how to pitch in the minor leagues. You canít do anything about the weather, you canít do anything about the wind. The No. 1 thing you can do is you have to know what to do when youíre out there, and the composure of learning how to pitch should have been taught to you in the minor leagues.
In my estimation, you have to make the hitters swing at pitches. If you throw seven or eight pitches to each hitter, pretty soon the pitch count is going to be astronomical. I used to make guys swing at first or second pitches. I used to have five -, six ñ pitch innings. You donít have to strike people out to make them swing at the ball.
I enjoyed pitching at Wrigley Field. It was fun. I played in a small ballpark, and I learned how to pitch in a small ballpark. Itís a psychological thing, too. If you have a fear of mountains, you canít be a mountain climber. If you have a fear of pitching in small ballparks, you are not going to do well. I didnít fear Wrigley Field. I enjoyed pitching there.
In í69 we were close-knit. I donít think anyone was bitter about this guyís ability or that guyís ability. And by far we didnít make any money, so nobody was jealous of our salaries. We didnít make squat back in those days. It was terrible. I would rather have a million dollar contract than $65,000. I think everybody understood we were trying to win a championship for the Cubs and for the city. We got close but it just didnít happen.