10 players you forgot were once Cubs

December 1st, 2021

CHICAGO -- When it is all said and done and calls it a career at some point down the road, the veteran pitcher will be celebrated for his work both in Boston and Chicago.

Lester won a World Series with the Red Sox and then did the same with the Cubs -- the latter championship ending sports' most famous drought. And while fans may recall Lester's other stop right now, there will probably be plenty of people who scan Lester's career ledger years in the future and do a double take. Wait, he pitched for the A's?

Many star players become known for their stints with a particular team or two. But, whether it's due to a winding-down career or trades made in the name of instant returns, there are also many famous athletes who had brief, easy-to-forget stops elsewhere along the line.

You probably have a handful that jump to mind. Here are 10 players you might have forgotten suited up for the Cubs:

Joe Carter, 1983
Carter is best known for jumping around the SkyDome basepaths in 1993, when he launched the clinching home run for the Blue Jays in Game 6 of the World Series against the Phillies. Before becoming a Toronto legend, Carter cut his teeth Cleveland. This is where we remind you that Carter was actually a Draft pick by the Cubs (No. 2 overall in '81) before being dealt to the Tribe in '84 in the blockbuster deal that brought Rick Sutcliffe to Chicago. Sutcliffe, of course, went 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA with the Cubs en route to the '84 National League Cy Young Award, and the Red Baron became a hero on the North Side. So, there were winners on both sides of that deal.

Dennis Eckersley, 1984-86
Eckersley suited up for the Cubs in parts of three seasons, but it's easy to forget that due to what took place after he was traded away. In 82 games (81 starts) with Chicago, the future Hall of Famer was an underwhelming 27-26 with a 3.63 ERA. In 1987, he was dealt to Oakland, where manager Tony La Russa (more on him in a minute) turned Eckersley into a late-inning weapon and helped reinvent bullpen usage. Eckersley ended with 390 career saves and picked up American League Cy Young and MVP honors in '92 with the A's.

Cliff Floyd, 2007
Floyd is something of a local legend around Chicago, given that he played for Thornwood High School in South Holland, Ill., in the city's south suburbs. He won a state championship in 1991, was taken 14th overall in that summer's Draft by the Expos and became a World Series champion with the Marlins in '97. Injuries kept Floyd from fully reaching his ceiling, but he earned a reputation as a leader throughout his 17-year career. That included one season in his home city in 2007, when he appeared in 108 games for the NL Central-champion Cubs.

Terry Francona, 1986
When baseball fans think of Francona, they picture the manager who helped end Boston's World Series drought (winning titles in 2004 and '07) and has now overseen one of the great eras in Indians history. He brought Cleveland to the brink of a World Series victory in '16, but Cubs fans will gladly tell you how that turned out. Francona, who ranks 22nd all-time with 1,574 managerial wins going into '19, appeared in 86 games for the Cubs in 1986. It was the only season within a 10-year career that he suited up for the North Siders.

Rich "Goose" Gossage, 1988
Gossage is a Hall of Famer and was a nine-time All-Star and a World Series champion (1978 with the Yankees) over the course of a 22-year career. He was one of the most durable relievers in baseball history, amassing 1,809 1/3 innings in 1,002 games. Gossage ended with 310 saves, including 13 with the Cubs in '88. The right-hander worked 46 games and turned in a 4.33 ERA that summer. It's fair to say that the other 21 years played a larger role in his Hall of Fame credentials.

Tony La Russa, 1973
On April 6, 1973, La Russa came off the bench for the Cubs in the ninth inning, replacing Ron Santo as a pinch-runner. He wound up scoring on a two-out, bases-loaded, walk-off walk by Rick Monday. That lone pinch-running assignment accounts for La Russa's entire career as a member of the Cubs. La Russa, who spent parts of six years in the big leagues, was then sent to Triple-A Wichita and never reached the Majors again. Well, as a player. As a manager, he won 2,728 games (third all-time) and three World Series en route to a place in the Hall of Fame.

DJ LeMahieu, 2011
The Yankees made headlines this offseason by inking LeMahieu to a two-year contract worth $24 million. Over the past seven years, the infielder made a name for himself with the Rockies, winning three Gold Glove Awards and making two NL All-Star teams. It was the Cubs who selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 Draft -- only to deal him away to Colorado in December 2011 for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers. LeMahieu only appeared in 37 games for Chicago. Stewart hit .201 in 55 games for the Cubs in '12 and Weathers never reached The Show.

Kenny Lofton, 2003
The joy of 2016 for Cubs fans washed away much of the lingering pain of '03, when the Marlins defeated Chicago in the NL Championship Series before capturing the World Series. That Cubs team pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Pirates in July to bolster the lineup. The headliner was third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who went on to spend nine years on the North Side. The average fan might forget that a center fielder also joined the Cubs in that deal. Lofton, who rose to stardom in Cleveland to ignite an impressive 17-year career, played a key role for the Cubs, too. He hit .327 with an .852 OPS and 12 of his 30 steals on the year in his 56-game stop with Chicago.

Fred McGriff, 2001-02
The Crime Dog enjoyed 10 seasons with 30-plus homers and eight with at least 100 RBIs over the course of a 19-year career. McGriff, who ended with 493 career homers and a case for Hall of Fame enshrinement, was most known for his stops with the Braves, Devil Rays and Blue Jays. Late in his career, though, McGriff had a brief tenure with the Cubs. His '02 showing on the North Side marked the final 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign, too. He only hit 15 homers across the next two seasons before retiring.

Joe Nathan, 2016
During his time with the Twins and Rangers, Nathan was one of baseball's elite closers. Over the 2003-13 seasons, the right-hander spun a 2.24 ERA with 340 of his 377 career saves. Nathan spent 16 years in the Majors and had stints with five teams, reaching the playoffs six times, but never experiencing World Series glory. However, Nathan does have a World Series ring. In '16, which was Nathan's last season, he spent a total of three games with the Cubs. They went on to capture the World Series without him, but their victory netted Nathan a nice souvenir to cap off a distinguished career.