Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs great Williams to get Wrigley statue

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It's not the first move the Ricketts family has made since buying the Cubs last fall, but commissioning a statue of Cubs great Billy Williams is easily the most popular one so far.

Williams, a Hall of Fame outfielder who once held the National League record with 1,117 consecutive games played, got the news during an annual team gathering Tuesday night.

The life-size statue is to be unveiled Sept. 7 outside Wrigley Field, two seasons after teammate Ernie Banks' statue was erected near Clark and Addison. The location for Williams' statute has yet to be determined.

``This is the ultimate, ultimate honor for a player,'' said Williams, now a senior advisor in the front office who also spends spring training in uniform working with the players.

``It's great for me, and it's great for the family,'' he said, ``because the kids, the grandkids, the great-great grandkids take their friends out [to see it] and it'll be there forever.

``Just in Chicago it gets kind of cold. Hopefully, it don't freeze up. I knew Ernie was kind of cool out there in [the winter].''

Williams' will be the third statute outside of Wrigley, also joining Harry Caray's near Sheffield and Addison.

Wherever it is, Williams said, ``I know it will be a meeting place for a lot of people. It will be in the conversation every day. Like they say now, `I'll meet you by Ernie Banks' statue. There's no Clark and Addison anymore. It's, `I'll meet you by Ernie Banks' statue. And after Sept. 7, they'll say, `I'll meet you by Billy Williams' statue.''

General manager Jim Hendry, who has worked with Williams in the organization since 1994, got emotional when talking about Williams, who is as beloved and admired as a mentor and friend to many in the organization as he is revered for his baseball career and knowledge.

``He's not only one of the greatest Cubs ever but one of the greatest influences on Cub players and employees,'' Hendry said, his voice halting at times. ``I'm very privileged to have been around him. My children have been around him... As we grow older in life, we'll be very appreciative that we got to spend the time we did with him.''

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Sweet swingin' Billy Williams! He was so fun to watch play the game and he's a great guy like Ernie!

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 31, 2010 12:18 PM.

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