From Left Field: Which baseball player did you idolize growing up?

From Left Field: Which baseball player did you idolize growing up?

As we countdown to opening day, NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs team is very excited to bring you a unique look at the 2018 season from the highlights and stories on the field to the players and their lives off it.

We'll work tirelessly to keep you informed from a statistical and analytical perspective, with plenty of opinions along the way. With that being said, please reach out to us on social media with any story ideas you may have. We would love to cover what you want to see.

The video above has Cubs players giving the players they idolized growing up. Following the Cubs lead, here's the players that helped us fall in love with the game.

David Kaplan - @thekapman

I grew up in Chicago and the 1969 Cubs were the first Chicago team that I really remember believing could win a championship. That team was loaded with stars (four players from that team are in the Hall of Fame) and while most fans were rooting for Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, my favorite player was third baseman Ron Santo. Ron was not only a great offensive player but he was one of the best defensive players of his era. But, it was the passion he played with that made him a natural fit as my favorite all-time Cub.

Kelly Crull - @Kelly_Crull

To Cubs fans this will probably be a huge disappointment, but I grew up north of Indianapolis where basketball was end all be all. So, when it came to baseball, my family often attended a handful of games a summer and it was split between Cincinnati & Chicago. With that explanation, the name I remember getting excited to go see as a teenager was Ken Griffey Jr.! His best years may have been behind him by the time he was with the Reds, but he was still an incredible and captivating athlete to see in person.

Tony Andracki - @TonyAndracki23

Derrek Lee. He was a great person and the clear leader of Cubs teams that gave a lot of joy to the fanbase all summer (before ripping their hearts out in the postseason). As a player, his batting eye was incredible, he struck an imposing presence in the field and at the plate and his 2005 campaign will go down as one of the most amazing seasons I've ever seen. He absolutely should've been the 2005 NL MVP, though I won many awards with him in MVP Baseball 2005 for PS2.

Siera Santos - @SieraSantos

The player I loved growing up was Randy Johnson. I was born in Seattle but moved to Arizona at a young age and was incredibly excited when the Big Unit landed with the Diamondbacks. He also sadly (but powerfully) exploded a bird.

Jon Graff - @JLGProd

Andre Dawson. The real "Hawk". 49 HR, 137 RBI for a last place team in 1987 and he won the NL MVP Award. He accomplished all that after signing a blank contract to play for the Cubs. His legendary stare and focus against opposing pitchers would strike fear into opponents, and the way he played the game made him my favorite player of all-time. His batting stance and his rifle for an arm in RF didn't hurt either.

Chris Kamka - @ckamka

My favorite player growing up was Carlton Fisk. He had a cool nickname (Pudge) and a unique number (72). He had the look; behind the plate with his catcher's gear or at the plate. He was awesome even into his 40s.

Scott Changnon - @ScottyChag

Sammy Sosa. Growing up in Champaign, Ill., only 181 miles from St. Louis and 141 miles from Chicago, you're either raised a Cubs or a St. Louis Cardinals fan. In a house dominated by basketball and football, it took polarizing players like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in 1998 to grab my 11-year-old self's attention. As the home run race heated up that summer, I instantly became a Cubs fan and have been a diehard ever since.

Eric Strobel - @strobes312

Sammy Sosa. In the summer of '98, Sammy's home run heroics and infectious personality captivated a nation and also the mind of my second-grade self. Sammy did things on a baseball field I'd never seen before; his mammoth blasts sent Wrigley into a frenzy time and time again, culminating in that epic September series against the Brewers where No. 21 made history. Quite simply, Sammy Sosa was the catalyst that gave rise to my love for baseball.

Nathan Poppen - @poppenfresh

Greg Maddux. The one that got away. No longer in his prime when he arrived back in Chicago, watching Maddux was still appointment viewing every start upon his return to the Cubs. I'll take a dominant pitching performance over almost any other baseball moment, especially one in which Maddux throws a complete game on about 80 pitches.

Matt Buckman - @BuckyBallgame

Kerry Wood - I was born in Texas. My favorite player as a boy was Nolan Ryan. As I got older and moved to Chicago, I was a young man in search of a new favorite player. In 1998, a young flame-thrower named Kerry Wood took the mound whose stuff reminded me of my childhood hero. His 20-strikeout game and NLCS Game 7 two-run home run are a couple of my favorite Cubs memories. Also, years later our daughters were briefly in Adventure Guides together, which was super cool.

Lou Melgarejo - @LousLand

Timing is everything. When you are a 7-year-old boy living in Edgewater and a player on your favorite team hits 48 home runs in a season, he quickly becomes your favorite. Dave Kingman was only with the Cubs for three seasons, but that magical 1979 season and in particular the three home runs "King Kong" blasted in the classic 23-22 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies have cemented his place as my favorite Cub growing up. 

Vinnie Duber - @VinnieDuber

My favorite player growing up was Nomar Garciaparra. Aside from being a great, great player during his time in Boston, he did that awesome thing with his batting gloves before every pitch, which was very fun to imitate while playing Wiffle ball in the backyard. The day he was traded to the Cubs in 2004 might be the happiest I've ever been as a sports fan.

Mike Piff - @Mike_PiFF03

When I'm asked about the players I grew up with and who got me into the sport of baseball, Frank Thomas was my Michael Jordan. I attempted to emulate his stance and swing from little league to high school ball. Then when we saw the Big Hurt make his acceptance speech into the Hall of Fame, my pops and I practically watered the grass with our tears in that Cooperstown field.

Jeff Nelson - @JJNelson2105

The player i grew up idolizing was Ryne Sandberg. He led the Cubs out of years and years of losing to their first playoff appearance in 39 seasons. He was great offensively, great defensively, and his non-showboating direct approach of playing the game was how I imagined I would be on my road to the major leagues... until I found out I couldn't hit a curve ball.

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark


Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: