Cubs

Statue's beyond Williams' wildest dreams

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Statue's beyond Williams' wildest dreams

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 201011:54 PM

By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com
Growing up in Alabama, Billy Williams would watch TV with his family and dream about playing professional baseball. As a young man working in the segregated South, he would be forced into dining rooms separate from the rest of his minor-league teammates.

I looked at the big picture, he said.

That perspective helped get Williams to where he was Tuesday night, standing beside his brand-new statue outside Wrigley Field at the corner of Sheffield and Addison. It is a monument to a Hall of Fame career, and 52 years in the Cubs organization.

Those deep connections brought the Ricketts family, seemingly all the high-ranking members of the front office and several beloved teammates from Ernie Banks to Ron Santo to Fergie Jenkins out to Tuesdays dedication ceremony.

He was not flashy or loud, Banks said, but he played the game the right way.

Others will draw attention to Williams, currently a senior advisor to the club. His No. 26 already flies from the right-field flagpole, a tribute to his 2,213 games, .296 average and 392 homers with the Cubs.

I got it done, Williams said. I didnt throw the bat in the air. I didnt try to show up the pitchers. I just went out and tried to do my job. As a matter of fact, you couldnt do it anyway, because guys like (Bob) Gibson and (Don) Drysdale (would) knock you down. But thats the way I was. (It) was a job to me.

Williams is still an old-school presence in Arizona during spring training, and when he found out his day was coming in September, it couldnt get here fast enough.

For generations to come, he wont be forgotten. The fans heading to Wrigley Field will begin to say: Meet me at the Billy Williams statue.

This is beyond my wildest dreams, he said.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: