Fergie Jenkins to get statue outside Wrigley

April 6th, 2021

CHICAGO -- is a towering figure in Cubs history. Now, a likeness of the legendary pitcher will stand tall for decades to come outside Wrigley Field.

On Tuesday, which marked the 50th anniversary of Jenkins' classic Opening Day duel with Bob Gibson, the Cubs announced plans to erect a statue honoring the Hall of Famer. The sculpture could be unveiled as early as 2022.

"It just brings a smile to your face," Jenkins said on Tuesday, "knowing that you're going to be immortal with a statue. I'm looking forward to it. It should be a great day."

The Jenkins statue will be the fifth to be placed around the Friendly Confines, joining Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, as well as broadcaster Harry Caray. The location of the new addition and the date of the ceremony are to be determined.

Jenkins also has his No. 31 retired by the Cubs, who have it flying on a flag atop a foul pole during each home game.

"When I got my number retired, I thought that was the ultimate," Jenkins said. "But now, a statue, I'm even more surprised, happy. My family is also happy, too."

Jenkins suited up for the Cubs in parts of 10 seasons from 1966-73 and then again in 1982-83. The former right-handed workhorse is the franchise's all-time leader in starts (347), strikeouts (2,038) and WAR (52.9, per Baseball Reference). He ranks third in team annals in innings (2,673 2/3) and fourth in shutouts (29).

In 401 career games for the Cubs, Jenkins had a 3.20 ERA and collected 167 of his 284 career wins with Chicago, ranking fifth in team history. He was a six-time 20-game winner for Chicago, doing so in six straight seasons from 1967-72). Jenkins topped 200 strikeouts five times for the Cubs, making three All-Star teams along the way.

Jenkins was part of a beloved Cubs core in the '60s, when he played alongside Banks, Santo and Williams. They were part of Chicago teams that never reached the playoffs, but featured a lovable line of characters and Hall of Famers.

"I had a pretty good career with the Cubs," Jenkins said. "Ten years of pitching and having fun with the players [like] Ernie, Ronny and Billy."

In his 1971 Opening Day battle with Gibson, Jenkins went 10 innings to begin what developed into a National League Cy Young Award-winning campaign. In that historic year, Jenkins won 24 games, logged a 2.77 ERA and had 263 strikeouts against 37 walks in 325 innings. He made 39 starts, completing 30 with three shutouts.

The 78-year-old Jenkins grew up in Chatham, Ontario, in Canada, breaking into professional baseball when the Phillies signed him in 1962. Four years later, the Cubs landed a future ace in a trade with Philadelphia. And it did not take long, as Jenkins finished as the NL Cy Young runner-up in '67.

Following his 19-year career -- one that included stops with the Rangers and Red Sox as well -- Jenkins was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1991. He received 334 votes, which fittingly matched his 3.34 career ERA.

Jenkins was on hand for the statue unveilings for Williams, along with the late Banks and Santo. The pitcher is looking forward to having Williams there by his side for the next celebration of one of the great eras in Cubs history.

"It would be nice to have Ernie here and Ronny still here," Jenkins said.

Jenkins does not have one particular pose in mind yet for the image frozen in time. He said he has a few photos he may show as suggestions.

"Probably a follow through," Jenkins said. "Pitching in a home uniform there at Wrigley Field."