CHICAGO – Whenever a member of the last era of the Cubs makes a return to Wrigley Field, it’s always a cause for celebration for fans who remember their contributions to the franchise.
That’s been the case quite often as a number of the members of the 2016 World Series championship team have returned over the past few years. Many of them have done so on opposing teams after the team’s selloff at the 2021 trade deadline.
Arguably the best pitcher of that era, however, did so as a fan on Sunday.
Jon Lester was at the game as a fan watching the team from the stands on Sunday as the Cubs took on the Brewers at Wrigley Field. This comes after he officially retired from the game of baseball back in January after 16 MLB seasons.
Lester was put on the video board in the middle of the third inning and immediately drew a huge ovation from the fans as he waved back at them. Marquee Sports Network also showed the moment on their broadcast on Sunday afternoon as the fans saluted the five-time All-Star’s return to the Friendly Confines.
“Jon’s great, man,” said Cubs manager David Ross, who was the pitcher’s primary catcher in Chicago in 2015 and 2016. “We’ve been waiting for him to get back in the building. So it’s nice to see him.”
While in attendance, Lester was there to watch a young Cubs’ lefthander continue his recent string of success as Justin Steele didn’t allow an earned run for the fourth time in his last five starts over six innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead in a 5-2 defeat to Milwaukee.
Signed ahead of the 2015 season, Lester is one of the more significant free agent signings in the history of Chicago sports. He signaled the Cubs’ intention to begin to compete for a championship after three years of rebuilding under then team president Theo Epstein, and Lester helped them do that.
The left-handed starter was 77-34 with a 3.64 ERA in six seasons from 2015-2020 in the regular season, was named an All-Star twice, and was the Cy Young Award finalist in 2016. During that season’s playoffs, Lester went 3-1, allowed nine earned runs in 35 2/3 inning, was named the NLCS Co-MVP while helping the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years.
In the end, Lester would make the postseason in five of his six years in Chicago in what some may argue is the greatest stretch of success in franchise history.