At the beginning of the 2017 MLB season, the Chicago Cubs handed out World Series rings to the team and personnel. They also gave rings to a handful of former players who had never won a World Series during their career with the Cubs—after all, the Cubs hadn’t been to the series since 1945!
Who were the players? We’ll cover that here, along with a list of some of the greatest players in the history of the game who also never won a World Series.
Some of the names that follow might surprise you.
Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers) Most fans would assume that Ty Cobb won at least one World Series crown in his 24-year MLB career, which featured nearly 4,200 hits, 12 batting titles, and two seasons batting over .400. But, no such luck. Cobb appeared in three straight World Series, 1907-1909, but the Tigers lost all three, and Cobb averaged just .262 in them. He was 22 years old during the 1909 Series, his last, never reaching the Series for the next 18 seasons, retiring at age 41.
Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox) Probably the greatest pure hitter who ever lived, Williams made it to the World Series just once in his 19-year career with the Boston Red Sox, another of the “cursed” baseball teams for decades. But does anyone think that tarnishes his career? Williams hit 521 home runs, had a .344 lifetime average, and was the last batter to hit over .400. Ted and the Red Sox faced the Cardinals in the ’46 World Series. Boston tied Game 7 3-3 in the top of the 8th inning, but the Cards scored a run in the bottom of the inning on a close play at the plate to take the lead for good. Williams hit only .200 in the series.
Other Ringless Red Sox Hall of Famers.Of course,justlike the Cubs, the BostonRed Sox had a long World Series drought that lasted 86 years, which they finally erased with their 2004 World Series win over the Cards. Here are three Hall of Fame Red Sox players who, therefore, never won a ring.
- Carl Yastrzemski 23 seasons, all with Boston
- Carlton Fisk 11 seasons with Boston
- Jim Rice 16 seasons, all with Boston
Tony Gwynn (San Diego Padres) “Mr. Padre” played 20 years with San Diego. Gwynn ranks as one of the greatest pure hitters ever, much like his idol, Ted Williams. Gwynn had a .338 lifetime avg. and batted .394 in 1994, a strike-shortened season. He won eight batting titles and was a 15-time All-Star. He made it to the World Series twice, in ’84, where they lost in 5, and in ’98, where they were swept.
THEY NEVER HAD A CHANCE
Here are two greats who never made to the World Series during their exceptional careers.
Rod Carew (Minnesota Twins, California Angels) Carew was the perennial batting champion of his era, winning the batting title seven times. He was an 18-time All-Star, collected more than 3,000 hits, and wound up with a career .328 average. He flirted with .400 in the ’77 season, batting .388! He made it to the playoffs three times in his career, but he never made it to the Fall Classic.
Ken Griffey, Jr. (Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds) “Junior” Griffey, 2016 Hall of Fame Class, is one of our more recent MLB superstars—he was a number one overall draft pick, Rookie of the Year, 13-time All-Star, and 10-time Gold Glove winner. He hit 630 career home runs, and 56 homers in 1997 and ’98. But in three trips to the postseason during his 22-year career, Griffey only made it to the ALCS once, and lost in six games.
As mentioned before, the Cubs hadn’t made it to the World Series for more than half a century, until their WS win in 2016…which means there are hundreds of Cubs players who never played in a World Series, let alone won a WS ring.
There were three living Cubs Hall of Fame players who received an honorary, but official, World Series ring at the beginning of the 2017 Season. Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ryne Sandberg.
- Ferguson Jenkins was a 300 game-winner
- Ryne Sandberg was one of the best NL second basemen of all time
- Billy Williams collected over 2,700 hits and hit 426 home runs
The Cubs also had World Series rings made for two Cub Hall of Famers, now deceased:
- Ernie Banks: “Let’s play two.” That’s the quote that the great “Mr. Cub” was best known for. He was a two-time MVP, an 11-time All-Star, hit 40 homers or more five times, with 512 in his 19-year career.
- Ron Santo: Santo played 16 years in the NL, finished with 342 homers, and had a 5-year stretch where he averaged nearly 20 homers and 105 RBI a season.
GIANTS OF THE GAME
Willie McCovey (San Francisco Giants) He was “the most feared hitter in baseball,” so said Sparky Anderson. The late Willie McCovey was a Rookie of the Year, played 22 seasons, won three home run titles and sent 521 balls out of the park. “Stretch” had his chance to get a ring in 1962, but the Giants lost to the New York Yankees in seven.
- Two other Giant Hall of Famers who never won a World Series are 300-game winner Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal, one of the best right-handed pitchers of the 1960s.
TWO CURRENT PLAYERS WITHOUT WORLD SERIES RINGS
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels have been two of the best players the past several years, and are certain Hall of Famers.
- In nine remarkable seasons, Trout been named AL MVP three times; however, he has made it to the postseason once, but not the World Series.
- Kershaw, a 3-time Cy Young Award winner, has made it to the World Series twice in his twelve-year career with the Dodgers; however, he came up on the losing side both times.