Cubs players bid an emotional farewell to Jim Hendry
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2011 5:00PM
Chicago Cubs' Carlos Pena, left, scores past St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina off a double by Geovany Soto during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: August 19, 2011 10:19PM
An extra inning 5-4 victory over the rival St. Louis Cardinals before the largest Wrigley Field crowd in 33 years should have meant only jubilation in the Cubs clubhouse Friday afternoon.
But most were somber thinking about the Jim Hendry, the fired general manager who brought all of them — players, coaches and training staff — to the team.
“He’s responsible for every single person in here,’’ pitcher Ryan Dempster said. “It’s a tough day for everybody because he’s a really, really good man and person who loses his job because we don’t do ours. He’s been a big part of my life. But it’s about wins and losses whatever position you’re in. He did a lot of great things, winning [three] divisions and going to the playoffs. We’ll be friends long after baseball is over.’’
Hendry first met Dempster when both were with the Florida Marlins. Dempster had Tommy John surgery in August, 2003 after playing for Cincinnati. Hendry signed him after the surgery. “He signed me when I was broken and still trying to get fixed,’’ Dempster said. “He took a flyer on me and I’m happy I was able to do well by him.’’
Hendry signed pitcher Kerry Wood as an 18-year-old first-round draft pick in 1995. “It’s a sad day for me,’’ he said. “It caught us off guard. But he said his piece and it was good to hear from him. Our relationship isn’t going to be over.’’
Players said Hendry was emotional during his talk. “He got through it,’’ Wood said. “Any of us in a position that long and addressing what he had to, he got through it. I think it was important for him to talk to us.
“He’s not a typical GM,’’ said Wood, who said Hendry was up front with him after the 2008 season saying he probably couldn’t be re-signed. Wood returned to the Cubs in the off season after meeting again with Hendry, signing a one-year deal.
Pitcher Randy Wells, who started Friday and worked seven innings, said he wasn’t prepared for what happened before the game.
“I didn’t know what to think. We had a team meeting and I thought it was something [manager Mike] Quade would be addressing the team. All of a sudden, Jim was talking.
“I like him more as a person than anything,’’ he said. “To see him choked up, I won’t lie that it choked us up. To see him go like that is tough.’’
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, a potential free agent after the season, said Hendry “did a good job. But in 2009 and last year and this year, we didn’t get it done. You can’t release 25 guys.’’
He said his own future with the team is unclear. “I don’t know what direction they’ll go,’’ he said.
Alfonso Soriano, signed by Hendry to the $136 million, eight year deal in 2007, said Hendry was honest with players. “You don’t see many owners and GMs who are honest with the players.”
A day of many
The Cubs remained perfect at 6-0 in extra inning games with the 10th-inning victory that came when pinch hitter Tyler Colvin singled off Octavio Dotel (0-2) to score Geovany Soto from second. The Cubs came back from a 3-0 deficit. The crowd of 42,343 was the largest at Wrigley Field since the April 14, 1978 opener against Pittsburgh that drew 45,777.