Rumors started in mid-October 2011 that the Cubs were going to bring in their first long-term first baseman since, Derrek Lee in, 2003 during the off-season. Fast forward to January 6, 2012. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in town and still getting acclimated to their new task of ending the draught on Chicago’s north side. They go home to make a small splash and bring Anthony Rizzo west to Chicago with them.
Before I continue about Tony there was another former Red Sox player who some thought the Cubs would bring in to play first base. I have a close friend who is also a die hard Cubs fan. Around Christmas in a conversation about moves the Cubs would make he said, “Here comes David Ortiz!” My initial reaction was, “While that would be nice he will not be playing for more than five years. Theo and Jed want someone here for at least ten years.” I would have been correct about David only playing five more seasons because he retired after the 2016 season. As it turns out Tony was here for most of 10 seasons after making his debut on June 26, 2012. This means I was mostly correct about Theo and Jed wanting a staple at first base.
My early memories of Tony are very few and far between because I was finishing college and not following sports too closely at all. The one thing that I will always remember is he chose 44 as his jersey number and my fathers was born in 1944. My father died six months after Rizzo made his debut so every highlight that Tony was involved in as a Cub caught my attention even when I was not paying too close of attention. For those who are saying Rizzo was my favorite Cub during the Theo regime you’d be correct only to be tied with Jon Lester. Rizzo is a class act who knows how to be a leader and the Cubs needed a leader in that clubhouse when he came over.
Without Tony I see no way David Ross comes to the north side back in 2015. There have been a few different versions of the story which I’ve read the last few years about Tony calling a meeting with the top men in the organization and telling them the team needed to go get Rossy. As if Theo and Jed did not know the class act and leadership qualities David would bring to the table.
Thanks to the stories about Tony getting management to bring Rossy to Chicago my number one memory of Rizzo as a Cub will forever be him handing Tom Ricketts the ball that recorded the final out of the 2016 World Series allowing the Cubs to win it all!
With that… it’s time to play ball!