I began this journey in the Wayback Machine trying to remember what the Cubs from thirty years ago had done.  At this point in my life, I was an eight-year-old Cubs fan. The only time I watched games were on the weekends with my grandpa.  The initial thought turned into “I wonder if this was Sammy’s first year as a Cub?” (It wasn’t but I’ll get to that) Looking back at it, thought, turned into an interesting journey.

Ryne Sandberg, like many, was my favorite player at the time.  Unfortunately, the start of his season would be delayed after being hit by a pitch during a Spring Training game breaking a bone in his left hand.  He would go on to have an OPS of .772 and a batting average of .309.  Ryno would hit 9 home runs on the season which was his fewest in ten years.  1993 was his last full season  before retiring in June 1994 and returing to the Cubs in 1996.

Mark Grace was out there being Mark Grace.  With an OPS of .867, Grace led the team in batting average (.325), hits (193), doubles (39), and runs batted in (98).

The Shawon-O-Meter was turned off for the year. Dunston found himself injured for a second straight season. Rey Sanchez replaced Dunston at short again.

1993 found the Cubs without their ace pitcher.  1992 Cy Young Award winner, Greg Maddux had left for Atlanta in free agency.  A move that would haunt the Cubs for the rest of the 90’s. The Braves would go on to win the National League West division (yes, the West) and the Cubs while winning 84 games would finish 13 games behind Philadelphia in the East.

Andre Dawson was gone. He had left for Boston after roaming right field for the Cubs for previous six seasons. His replacement would be the youngster the Cubs traded for in 1992. His name: Sammy Sosa. The future All-Star burst on the scene in 1993, announcing his presence as a power hitter.  Sosa played in 159 games that season, hitting 33 home runs.  Sammy replaced Dawson very well, out-producing The Hawk in multiple categories.

The biggest surprise I found, however, was catcher Rick Wilkins.  For me to hear Wilkins’ name just makes me think of all of the other Cubs catchers of my lifetime outside of Willson Contreras. Nothing special.  1993 was special for the Cubs catcher.  Wilkins had the season of his career.  He had led the team in OPS with .937.  Wilkins was second in home runs with 30 (behind Sosa’s 33) and fourth in RBI (73). His batting average of .303 was third behind Grace (.325) and Sandberg (.309). Wilkins had never shown this type of production prior to 1993 and didn’t come close throughout the rest of his career.  In fact, he only played in 100+ games in a season two more times (1994 and 1996) before retiring 2001.

Several players on the 1993 roster had a solid year. This wasn’t a special team though. Under today’s rules, they might have snuck into the postseason as a Wild Card team. It was fun, however, to think back to all of these names from my youth. And just like, I’m back on my grandparents’ couch, watching with my grandpa, listening to Harry Caray while my grandpa is yelling “Send them all back to Iowa!” at the tv.  Those were the days.

Featured Image: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

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