By Joseph Phillips
To kick off the 2020 Chicago Cubs Convention on Friday, January 17, the Crusader sat down with Cubs legend and Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to talk past and present Cub conventions, how the game of baseball has changed economically over the years, and his predictions for the 2020 Chicago Cubs season.
During the interview, Jenkins said he was very excited to see some of his former Cub teammates and alum in the building.
“The nice thing about (the Cubs Convention), is to come back and see some of the ‘69 Cubs, the ‘84 Cubs, the 2003 (Cubs), and the 2016 Cubs…the guys who won the World Series,” said Jenkins. “It’s (also) nice to come back to see the fans. (And being a Canadian citizen), Chicago (has) always been home for me.”
In spite of being a Canadian citizen, Jenkins said during his time as a Cub, he really enjoyed playing for the city of Chicago. He said that fans of the city not only remembered him as an athlete but as a person too.
Jenkins also noted that the game of baseball hasn’t really changed since the last time he played, but the economics of the game have increased, thanks to the people who run it.
“The game hasn’t changed, but the people who run it,” said Jenkins, who chuckled during the interview with the Crusader on how the game of baseball has changed. “The money (that the players make) is a big factor now. Equipment, facilities in ball parks, hotels are pretty much the same, (and) the travel is first class. (Now) I can say this, the people that run the game (from) general managers, to personnel, to owners, that’s the change that part of the game is all about.”
And with the new hire of first year manager and former player David Ross, Jenkins believes that the Cubs are primed to compete in the 2020 baseball season.
“Well they’ve got a new manager,” said Jenkins. “I think they have to work on their pitching. It’s not their personnel, I think they can still score runs. They’re in a great division with the (St. Louis) Cardinals, Milwaukee (Brewers), Cincinnati (Reds), and if they don’t have their act together, they’ll be a (second place team).”
According to his bio, Jenkins played the majority of his Major League baseball career for the Cubs. He was a National League (NL) and Cubs All-Star for three seasons, and in 1971, was the first Canadian and Cubs pitcher to win a Cy Young Award. Jenkins was also a 20-game winner for seven seasons, including six consecutive seasons for the Cubs.
Jenkins was also named NL leader in wins, in 1971, and the American League (AL) leader in wins, in 1974. He led the NL in complete games in 1967, 1970, and 1971 and was the AL leader in complete games in 1974. Jenkins also led the NL in strikeouts in 1969 and finished with over 3,000 strikeouts in his career.
In addition to the Cubs, Jenkins played for several teams throughout his 18 year Major League Baseball career. This included the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox. Jenkins’ career spanned from 1965–1983.
Jenkins also played basketball in the off-season for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1967 to 1969; and pitched two seasons in Canada for the minor league London Majors following his major league career.
In 1991, Jenkins became the first (and as of 2020, only) Canadian to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Joseph R. Phillips is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 15 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q & A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.