Cubs’ Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins never feared the billy goat

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Hall of Fame pitcher and former Cubs team member Fergie Jenkins talks about his excitement for the World Series-winning team, his memories of his own era and the myth of a curse. Video edited by Justin Scuiletti

If you’re a Cubs fan — or just a longtime baseball fan who’s not sick of hearing about the Cubbies and their celebrated season — some of the sweeter (and maybe bittersweet) moments this postseason are the ways the Cubs have recognized their former great players who never got a chance to play in a World Series.

READ MORE: Why I’m teaching my kids to love the Cubs, against my better judgment

Fergie Jenkins is one of those guys: A Hall of Fame pitcher, Jenkins was in the majors for almost two decades and played with the Cubs for over half of his career. Jenkins was part of a Cubs team in the late ’60s that had great talent — including Ernie Banks and Ron Santo — and seemed like it was going to go to the World Series in 1969. Instead, they collapsed that September as the Mets overtook them to win the division.

A Cy Young winner that year, Jenkins was one of the more talented (but sometimes less recognized) pitchers of his day who threw hard and with a good curve ball. He had six straight seasons where he won 20 or more games. And though it may seem hard to believe in this day and age, Jenkins finished nearly 75 percent of his starts during a five-year run.

Jenkins’ connections to the Cubs have never ended. His flag flies above Wrigley Field. And he remains associated with the Cubs organization. He was there in 2012 when the Cubs drafted Kyle Schwarber, a talented young hitter whose first hits of the season came in this World Series after being injured almost all year. Last weekend, the Cubs asked him to throw out the first pitch at Game Four in Wrigley Field.

I had a chance to speak with him in Arizona before the parade and celebrations. It was a special treat for me since I lived in an apartment next door to Jenkins for a season when I was a kid. That’s when he came back to the Cubs near the end of his career. I didn’t even fully appreciate the full accomplishments from the height of his career when I was a kid. But his talent was still evident. And Jenkins’ decency and good nature was as evident to me as a young teen as it is today. And so was his dedication to the Cubs.

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Editor’s Note: Fergie Jenkins’ record was misstated — he won won 20 or more games for six straight seasons, not five.

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