Constable: Old Cub favorites get rings

 
 
Posted4/18/2017 5:36 AM
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  • This Glenn Beckert rookie baseball card is the only baseball card in my newsroom collection. I have used "Beckert" as my computer password, and once traded a coveted Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for a card featuring my all-time favorite Cub.

      This Glenn Beckert rookie baseball card is the only baseball card in my newsroom collection. I have used "Beckert" as my computer password, and once traded a coveted Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for a card featuring my all-time favorite Cub. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • These two great Cubs finished short of the World Series in 1969. But Glenn Beckert, left, and Ron Santo, shown here as roomies relaxing during a road trip to New York in 1969, both made the list to get 2016 World Series rings. Beckert will receive his Wednesday at Wrigley Field, and Santo, who died in 2010, will have his ring on display at The Friendly Confines.

    These two great Cubs finished short of the World Series in 1969. But Glenn Beckert, left, and Ron Santo, shown here as roomies relaxing during a road trip to New York in 1969, both made the list to get 2016 World Series rings. Beckert will receive his Wednesday at Wrigley Field, and Santo, who died in 2010, will have his ring on display at The Friendly Confines. Associated Press

  • The Cubs World Series rings aren't for everybody. But plenty of Cubs employees and former players will get some sort of jewelry.

    The Cubs World Series rings aren't for everybody. But plenty of Cubs employees and former players will get some sort of jewelry.

Just when you thought the Chicago Cubs were done celebrating last year's championship, they open the door to some former players who may have dropped out of sight but never out of our hearts. Chances are good that one of your favorite players from an earlier Cubs era will be back in town Wednesday to receive a World Series ring.

For me, that means Glenn Beckert, the Cubs' All-Star second-baseman who played from 1965 through 1973. Others who will be receiving alumni rings during the festivities surrounding Wednesday afternoon's game at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers include Randy Hundley (the catcher for the 1969 Cubs), Jose Cardenal (the popular playmaker of the Cubs teams in the 1970s), Lee Smith (the closer for the Cubs of the 1980s), Jody Davis (the catcher on those 1980s Cubs teams), Bob Dernier (the leadoff man for the 1984 Cubs), Steve Trout (the unconventional lefty who came from the White Sox just in time to pitch the Cubs into the 1984 playoffs) and Scott Sanderson (a starting pitcher who was part of the rotation during two playoff runs in the 1980s).

The Cubs already have given 2016 World Series rings to Hall of Famers who never made it to the championship arena as players, with presentations to Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg. The franchise awarded rings posthumously to fellow Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. But players who don't have those Hall of Fame numbers still can earn a top spot with fans, who remember warm, fun feelings even if we forget the cold, hard stats. How these players made us feel is the key.

"Every fan has their favorite players growing up, but Cubs fans are fortunate to have an ongoing relationship with these alumni, thanks to their continued involvement with the team through events like Cubs Convention, Cubs Caravan community tour, 7th inning stretch, ceremonial first pitches and more," emails Julian Green, the Cubs vice president of communications and community affairs. "The team considered number of years spent with the team during both a player's on-field career as well as their active post-career involvement, including number of Cubs Conventions attended, when awarding alumni rings."

For many fans old enough to remember the 1969 Cubs, Beckert was our guy. Actor Joel Murray, a brother of Bill Murray, says he was a Beckert guy. A second baseman for most of my baseball-playing days, I was such a Beckert fan that I successfully lobbied my high school baseball coach to give me Beckert's No. 18. My first computer password at the Daily Herald was Beckert, I once traded a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie baseball card for a Beckert rookie card, and a Beckert baseball card still occupies a spot in my newsroom cubicle.

At a 1993 baseball banquet featuring former ballplayers, I got to sit next to my idol. He couldn't have been nicer. When he was given a plaque with his first name misspelled as "Glen," I was about to make a fuss, but Beckert silenced me with a simple look and then explained that he didn't want to embarrass the organizers. Beckert got his chance with the Cubs because 1962 Rookie of the Year Ken Hubbs was killed in a plane crash after the 1963 season.

Beckert, 24, started the 1965 season as the Cubs' second baseman and held down that spot until he was traded to the San Diego Padres before the 1974 season. He rarely belted homers, hardly ever struck out, hit .342 in 1971 and won a Gold Glove for his fielding in 1968.

But many of my Beckert memories were made as a boy in our barnyard spending hours hitting rocks toward the barn, pretending to be him. In my pretend games, Beckert rarely launched a homer onto the roof, but he peppered the barn door with so many singles that our cows must have feared my kid voice proclaiming, "And now Beckert steps up to the plate."

An old Cub is a time machine to fun moments in fans' lives. That's worth a ring.

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