Every Friday we look back at some Cub history. Carrie Muskat compiled anecdotes from 60 different players and team officials in her book BANKS TO SANDBERG TO GRACE. Enjoy this feature every Friday (Ernie Banks was featured last week) and buy the book at your finest bookstore featuring Chicago Cub literature.
Don was the first Cub I ever met. I have always liked him because he was a Christian athlete before it was "cool" to be a Christian athlete.
Let me tell you truly, that group of guys -- I was so fortunate to come to the Cubs at a time when we had such great role models. I was a young guy. Beck [Glenn Beckert] and I came up the same year. We had guys like Ernie Banks and Billy Williams and Ron Santo and George Altman. These were great guys. Not just good players, but great guys. It was great for us to be around a group like that.
Beck and I used to go out early, especially when Alvin Dark was the coach that first year. We used to go out 20 minutes before other people to take ground balls and work on double plays; so yeah, we did become close, and I think we're good friends today. That whole group of guys were good friends. That's the thing that people don't understand. That was the great thing about that group that stayed together for so many years. We really cared about each other. There was a unique relationship between the players and between the players and the fans with that group of guys that in all my16 years we were never able to emulate. It was really a unique deal.
We were bad in 1965 and worse in 1966 and Leo took over and said "I guarentee this is not an 8th-place ballclub." He was right, because we finished 10th. we were bad. But then in 1967 we went from 10th to 3rd. In June or July of that summer, we won a ballgame that put us in first place, and from that moment on there was this deal with this group of people and the fans. 1968 was better. We were really good and we finished third again but we were good, and '69 was just a magical year that didn't end right. I don't know how it could've been more wild than having won it.