Cubs unveil Fergie Jenkins statue, Hall of Fame pitcher ‘humbled’

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Fergie Jenkins 'humbled' as Cubs unveil statue of HOFer originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

They were chanting his name at Wrigley Field once again on Friday.

And now, Cubs fans will be able to pay tribute to Fergie Jenkins anytime they visit the Friendly Confines. The Cubs unveiled a Jenkins statue Friday, forever memorializing the Hall of Famer at Wrigley.

The Jenkins statue was unveiled as part of the new “statue row” at Gallagher Way outside of Wrigley. It’s flanked by statues of fellow Cubs Hall of Famers and Jenkins’ former teammates: Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.

“Now this statue is sitting beside my fellow teammates, Ernie, Billy and Ronnie,” Jenkins said during the ceremony. “Believe me, I am humbled.

“I stand here a proud man, but also humble.”

Jenkins was joined by his family at the ceremony, and along with Williams, Cubs legends Kerry Wood, Andre Dawson and Lee Smith also were in attendance, and CC Sabathia.

Jenkins spent 10 of his 19 big-league seasons in a Cubs uniform, going 167-132 with a 3.20 ERA and 2,038 strikeouts in 401 games (347 starts).

He’s first in Cubs history for WAR among pitchers (per Baseball Reference), first in strikeouts and starts, third in innings pitched (2,673 2/3) and fifth in wins.

“Let’s cut right to the chase,” Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes said during the ceremony. “Fergie Jenkins is the greatest pitcher in the long and legendary history of the Chicago Cubs.”

Jenkins, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, finished his career with 284 wins and a 3.34 ERA in 664 games/594 starts between the Cubs, Phillies, Red Sox and Rangers. He struck out 3,192 batters (12th-most all-time) in 4,500 innings (27th)

“I thought Fergie deserved this a long time ago,” Williams said. “Better late than never.”

Jenkins is 11th in Cubs history in complete games and fourth in shutouts. He retired with 267 career complete games and 49 shutouts.

“The man has got more complete games than I’ve got wins in my career,” said Sabathia, who won 251 games and called Jenkins a “great friend” and “mentor” to him.

Jenkins’ statue is now the fifth at Wrigley; Harry Caray’s remains on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland Aves.

What does he think of how it turned out?

"That's me," Jenkins said, chuckling. "It looks like me. I think that was [from] an afternoon ballgame, a 'Game of the Week.' They used the Sports Illustrated cover.

"That was the pose because they wanted to show the Cubs logo on the chest and also on the hat."

Jenkins called Chicago his “second home” and heaped praise on “the best fans in baseball.”

“My whole career was day baseball,” Jenkins said. “Coming here, driving to the ballpark. When we were winning, you saw [fans] lining up on the outside, coming into the bleachers.

“It was always good to know that I had that support. They cheered for me if I pitched bad. I lost ballgames, too.

“You could lose but the fans appreciated your performance.”

Jenkins recalled a conversation he had with manager Billy Martin during his time with the Rangers between his two stints with the Cubs. Martin told Jenkins, “I heard you can’t win anymore.”

“And I said, ‘Skip, you give me that ball every fourth day, I’ll win you some ballgames,’” Jenkins added.

Jenkins played under Martin in Texas from 1974-75. He won 42 games between those two seasons.

“Fergie was an iron man,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “He did more than just endure. He prevailed.”

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