Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
The complete title is “Banks To Sandberg To Grace – Love and Frustration with the Chicago Cubs”, Compiled by Carrie Muskat, Foreword by Bob Verdi. It was published in 2001 (the year I retired).
The front cover features a beautiful photograph of the Wrigley Field outfield wall with thick, plush midsummer ivy, and the bleachers and the center field scoreboard, taken from the right field warning track (at the 368 foot marker).
The back cover has a paragraph from Hank Sauer talking about the fans at Wrigley Field. He thinks very highly of them, and apparently the feeling is mutual. Here’s a piece of that paragraph:
- “….That’s how great the people of Chicago were. They were the kind of people who just knew. If you give them 100 percent, you’ll never get booed. If you screw up, you let up, they’ll boo. And they’re right to do it….”
The book itself consists of about 70 short chapters, arranged by decade (the 1940s through the 1990s), each told in the words of a different storyteller. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
- “When I was there, Wrigley’s philosophy was that you could come to the ballpark any day. There were no advance ticket sales. It was like going to a game in the playgrounds. You could come in, and watch the game, and have fun.” (Ralph Kiner)
- “Most people thought Leo didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. I never met a person I disliked. That’s my philosophy. The players didn’t know it, some of the fans didn’t know it, the media didn’t know it. It didn’t matter to me. He was the boss, he was the manager. That was his job. My message to players is whoever is in charge is the boss.” (Ernie Banks)
- “Cub fans are highly intelligent people who really think (about the game). They used to keep score here. When I first came, every fan – there weren’t that many – they used to keep score. It’s a thinking audience that understands and deals with logic and not make-believe stuff. (Ernie Banks)
- “So now, I want it to happen for me. I want my ashes to be spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out.” (Ernie Banks)
- “That’s one thing that the Cardinals organization did, they make you feel comfortable. They absolutely made you feel at home. In Chicago, it was more the ballplayers who made you feel at home and not the front office. The whole organization in St. Louis made you feel at home.” (Ernie Broglio)
- “Beck and I came up the same year. We had guys like Ernie Banks, and Billy Williams, and Ron Santo, and George Altman. These were great guys. Not just good players, but great guys.” (Don Kessinger)
- “I felt I wasn’t going to win a ring, regardless of the three or four Hall of Fame players on the team, unless they changed their philosophy. I found out after I left that I was right. I played on two of the greatest teams in history in Oakland and saw what you had to do to win. It took 25 guys.” (Ken Holtzman)
- “It’s so important to have proper equipment. They’ve got to have two gloves, two pairs of shoes, two shirts. They say, “I can’t afford it.” I say, “You got a car? Sell it.” (Jimmy Piersall)
- “All those guys that we got – Eckersley and all the different trades that we made – we basically thought about what kind of people are they inside. Not only their talent, but what can they bring to the table in terms of clubhouse, and rapport, and gamesmanship when it comes to tough times.” (Dallas Green)
- “To this day, I assume that’s where the philosophical differences became important to them. I’m sitting here and they’re still wondering what happened to the Cubs.” (Dallas Green)
- “But I always said I play the game one way and that’s all out. And if I can’t play all out when I’m out there, I’d rather someone else was out there.” (Andre Dawson)
- “When the people criticize me, I like it. That motivates me. That pushes me. That gives me more energy to do my job much better.” (Sammy Sosa)
“Banks To Sandberg To Grace” is a great book. It’s not new (having been published in 2001) but it is of historical significance. There are 69 or 70 individual points of view, reviewing over 60 years of Cubs history. First hand analyses from the people who were there. I loved it.
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