The Cubs announced Wednesday that No. 31 will be the fifth number to be retired by the team. The list already includes No. 10 (Ron Santo), No. 14 (Ernie Banks), No. 23 (Ryne Sandberg), No. 26 (Billy Williams) and No. 42 (Jackie Robinson, retired by Major League Baseball).
"Both of us had pretty good careers wearing that uniform number," Jenkins said Wednesday. "[Maddux] won quite a few games, a few more than I did. Most of the fans remember your number and that's what this is for, the fans."
Both pitchers won their first Cy Young awards while with the Cubs (Jenkins 1971, Maddux 1992). Jenkins pitched for the Cubs from 1966-73 and 1982-83, while Maddux was with the team from 1986-92 and again in 2004-06. Both probably had the number issued to them by longtime clubhouse manager Yosh Kawano. Maddux remembers when he first arrived at Wrigley Field and saw No. 31.
"I remember walking down the stairs into the clubhouse," Maddux said. "I got called up in September from [Triple-A] Des Moines. It was right there in my locker. Being 20 years old at the time, the last thing I was going to do was complain about my number. I was just happy to be there."
Maddux was told a few weeks later that he was the first to wear it since Jenkins had left the Cubs. However, pitcher Ray Fontenot wore No. 31 from 1985-1986 before it was given to Maddux.
"I thought that was pretty cool that they gave me Fergie's number because I knew he was one of the best pitchers to ever play for the Cubs and in baseball period," Maddux said. "It was an honor to have his number."
Jenkins has had to wait for Maddux to end his career.
"I thought maybe [the Cubs] didn't think about it," said Jenkins, who was honored by the team after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. "They kept saying it'll probably happen. I wasn't losing any sleep over it.
No. 31 through the years
|A chronological list of Cubs players who have worn No. 31.|
|Stan Hack||1932||Jug Gerard||1962|
|Taylor Douthit||1933||Bob Buhl||1962-66|
|Jim Mosolf||1933||Ferguson Jenkins||1966-73|
|Augie Galan||1934||Tom Dettore||1975-76|
|Earl Whitehill||1939||Joe Coleman||1976|
|Dom Dallessandro||1940-41||Jim Todd||1977|
|Johnny Schmitz||1941-42||Davey Johnson||1978|
|Joe Berry||1942||Ferguson Jenkins||1982-83|
|Dale Alderson||1943||Ray Fontenot||1985-86|
|Bill Lee||1943||Greg Maddux||1986-92|
|Dale Alderson||1944||Kevin Foster||1994|
|Bob Chipman||1944-49||Ferguson Jenkins||coach 1995-96|
|Fred Baczewski||1953||Kevin Foster||1997-98|
|Al Lary||1954-55||Brad Woodall||1999|
|Turk Lown||1956-58||Bobby Ayala||1999|
|Dick Ellsworth||1958||Mike Fyhrie||2001|
|Dave Hillman||1959||Donovan Osborne||2002|
|Mark Freeman||1960||Mark Guthrie||2003|
|John Goetz||1960||Greg Maddux||2004-06|
Maddux apologized if he was the reason for the delay.
"Hopefully I wasn't the reason for that," he said. "Fergie was a great pitcher, is still a great person and I wish him all the best."
Jenkins still holds the club's strikeout record with 2,038, and Maddux ranks fifth with 1,305. Maddux notched two milestones with the team, earning his 300th career win in a Cubs uniform on Aug. 7, 2004, and picking up his career 3,000th strikeout on July 26, 2005.
Jenkins ended his career with a 284-226 record, 3.34 ERA, 997 walks and 3,192 strikeouts. In Maddux's 23-year career, he posted a 355-227 record, 3.16 ERA, 999 walks and 3,371 strikeouts.
"The No. 31 belongs to two of the greatest pitchers ever to wear a Cubs uniform," team chairman Crane Kenney said. "Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux each established themselves as dominant pitchers of their era. Each won his first Cy Young Award with the Cubs and represented our team with dignity and class on and off the field."
Maddux announced his retirement in December at the Winter Meetings and was a part-time coach with the San Diego Padres this spring. Now, he's spending time with son Chase, 11. He didn't get the itch to get back on the field once pitchers and catchers reported in February.
"I don't, I really don't," Maddux said when asked if he missed the game. "That's a good thing for me. I was worried that I would. I was at my son's practice the other day and I was running around the outfield to pick up balls and I realized, 'Man, I'm glad I'm not playing now.'
"I do miss the guys, I miss the life," he said. "I miss everything that goes around pitching but as far as pitching and getting ready to pitch, I don't miss that now. Maybe next month and I turn on the TV and see some guys pitching, I'll probably want to be out there. So far, it's been pretty good."
He's considered coaching and will look into it after this year ends. Maddux did recall looking up at the flags on the foul poles at Wrigley Field and thinking about how he could someday be included with Banks, Williams, Santo and Sandberg.
"I thought about it a little bit the second time I was there," Maddux said. "It's hard to imagine your number on the pole. I did think about it -- I thought it was pretty cool that Ryno's number was up there because I had played with him."
The Cubs will add two more names in May.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.