Photo by TheMajors.net
By Rich Mancuso
THE FIRST OF THE LATINO BALLPLAYERS WHO HAD A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE CHICAGO CUBS WORLD SERIES VICTORY
In his second season with the Chicago Cubs 33-year old Miguel Montero played a role in helping his team end a drought since 1908. The two-time All-star signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks is in the history books as of of three catchers on the same same team to hit home runs in the postseason.
The Caracas Venezuela born Montero and Wilson Contreras combined 12-for-51 at bats in the postseason with two home runs, and 10 runs batted in with five runs scored.
Perhaps, the biggest hit of his career came in the 10th inning Wednesday night after that momentum builder rain delay in Game 7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. After an intentional walk to Addison Russell that loaded the bases, Montero went after the pitch and hit a single to left that drove in the final Cubs run that led to their historic 8-6 win.
Manager Joe Maddon used his bench to perfection. Montero, the veteran did not get much playing time in October and in early November, but when he was asked to deliver there were never any doubts about his capability to play a major role.
“Go Cubs Go,” and he heard the chants at Progressive Field. The Cubs fans were embellishing the eventual win and all those years of frustration were over. He was the first to be introduced on the stage Friday afternoon at Grant Park after the Cubs victory parade that was attended by an estimated 5 million fans during the 7-mile parade route.
Montero was introduced and danced to the front. He was cheered, not as loud as the ovations granted to World Series MVP Ben Zobrist and free agent to be Dexter Fowler. Regardless, it has been a journey for Montero who gets a ring and the dream of playing and contributing in a Game 7 of the World Series is why you play the game.
And way before Game 7, there was that pinch-hit grand slam home run at Wrigley Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 8th inning in Game 1 of the NLCS, the third of that kind in postseason history. So, in all aspects, Montero made history with limited playing time and looks to do it again next season final as he is signed thru 2017.
Unless the Cubs feel there is no need to carry three catchers, Montero is staying put. And there is every reason to believe he returns with the retirement of catcher David Ross who hit one of three Chicago home run balls in Game 7.
“Do you guys remember my BA in the regular season, who cares?” was the tweet that Montero sent with a gesture of enjoyment afterthe victory celebration was over when the Cubs arrived in Chicago Thursday morning.
He was not sarcastic, or rubbing it in as they say. Montero hit .216 during the season and is not known for the long ball with 120 home runs in and a .262 career hitter. But that does not matter because getting the big hit and at the right time makes a player that more valuable.
He said after that grand slam home run, “Obviously you always dream of the situations. And that’s what you live for. It’s easy to hit a grand slam in the first inning when nobody is actually screaming at it, and this one is a lot more special because it’s in front of this special crowd that we have, and you’re always looking for that. “
It was as Montero said, “Something I will keep searching for.” That search came at the right time and the Game 7 hit was that time.
But nothing is more special that a Game 7 hit, one that Montero can never forget because it was a part of the history books for the Chicago Cubs and overall for the game of baseball.