Ross reflects on Cubs' title, life in retirement

November 13th, 2016

CHICAGO -- He's never been asked to pose for so many selfies. A woman at a sandwich shop in a suburban mall on Sunday couldn't wait to hug him, calling him, "Grandpa." Fans camped out overnight at a sporting-goods store just to get an autograph. All the giddiness was for backup catcher , who is trying to get his life back to normal after helping the Cubs win a World Series championship.

"Life's still going," Ross said. "There hasn't been a big lull for me. I ended it the best way I could. It's a storybook and a dream. I was saying to my wife, 'This offseason' -- and she said, 'It's no more the offseason; this is life.'"

Shop for World Series champs gear

Ross, 39, was back in Chicago on Sunday, and he provided an update on life after helping to end the longest championship drought in North American professional sports. He's still spraying champagne. Daughter Landri wanted to celebrate like the players did, so on Saturday, she and her friends got their goggles and swimsuits, and Ross doused them with bubbly in the backyard. Then it was time for pizza and a movie. Next up is boy's night out with son Cole.

"For me, it's nice to be back in Tallahassee, [Fla.], where it's a little slower paced," Ross said Sunday. "Home is home. You can't replace home.

"I just want to be 'Dad,'" he said. "The kids are just super-excited. They're jumping around and the energy level when I got home was through the roof. It's nice to get in the car and go as a family to dinner or a movie or whatever. It just makes it fun."

This World Series is special because it came in Ross' final season. He is technically a free agent, but don't expect him to sign with another team. He leaves on an incredible high, picking up his second championship. Ross also won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, beating the Cardinals in six games. Winning with the Cubs was different.

"It's another level, because of the history aspect here," Ross said. "I didn't realize how many Cubs fans there are. I'm watching the Tampa Bay and Bears [NFL] game and there's a 'W' flag in the background [in the stands].

"With Boston, it didn't soak in for a while, and that's the same now," he said. "I'll have moments, where I'm like, 'Holy cow -- wow. We won the World Series with the Chicago Cubs and with that group.' That's the fun thing for me, is the guys. I had such a bond with the guys in Boston -- when you do things like that, you're brothers for life. With this young group, it's even cooler for me."

Ross packed up his gear in Chicago, which included such retirement gifts as the scooter he got in Spring Training, but has yet to watch a replay of Game 7 or any of the Cubs' other playoff games.

"I want to watch Game 5 [of the World Series], for sure," he said of the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Indians at Wrigley Field two weeks ago. "That was a fun one -- that was the one that stood out for me. [Game 7] was more stressful for me. I'd never been part of a Game 7. Trying to stay calm, and I had all the nerves, and I'm trying to be the calm one in the dugout."


Ross had some quality time with teammates and when the trio appeared on "Saturday Night Live," which included a sketch in which they sang "Go Cubs Go" with comedian and Cubs fan Bill Murray.

Ross flew to Los Angeles with and coach Mike Borzello, and they discussed who was coming back to the Cubs next season, how important it will be to get in the lineup, and how is a leader on the club.

Heyward may have saved the World Series for the Cubs in Game 7 when he called a players-only meeting in the weight room during the rain delay prior to the 10th inning. The Indians had tied the game at 6 in the eighth.

"It reminded me of calling us in the dugout in St. Louis in Game 4 [of the World Series], and [Ortiz] told us to just be ourselves, have fun, let's play," Ross said. "Jay-Hey, I know him better than a lot of the guys here know him, and he's that guy. He's not afraid to speak up when something needs to be said. I think that will be important moving forward."

Ross was a mentor to Heyward when the outfielder was called up to the Braves. In his first year with Chicago, Heyward batted .230, and hit a career-low seven home runs, but he never showed any frustration in the dugout or on the field.

"He was going to be professional no matter what and go about his business," Ross said. "That's why so many guys want him in the lineup and love him whether he's hitting or not.

"For me, when Jason Heyward is in the lineup, we win," he said. "We're not all perfect -- we can't all be [Bryant] or Rizzo. I wouldn't have had the career I had if hitting was that important. It was nice for me to have that moment with Jason. I know who he is and what he's all about."

Heyward will be back with the Cubs. Ross isn't sure what he'll be doing next year. One thing on his wish list is to rent a house on the beach so he and his family can vacation together for a couple weeks. At some point, Ross and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein will talk about a possible role with the team. They postponed that chat until after Thanksgiving so both can catch their breaths.

"I still want to stay in the game and do something," Ross said. "I want to stay in it somehow, some way, and be connected.

"I have some priorities," he said. "I want to discuss it with my wife and kids. 'Hey, dad's going to do this and this many days, and this is how dad can make money.' I've made great money, but I can't just go off into the sunset."

Next weekend will be a retirement party in Florida with family and friends.

"I just want to be around the guys who helped influence me and who I am," he said. "I can't wait for that."

Ross has been so busy, he hasn't reflected on his career, or that his playing days are over.

"It hits me at times," Ross said. "But for me, other than cleaning out my locker, there hasn't been a huge emotional day."