Ross reaches milestone with 100th homer

Ross reaches milestone with 100th homer

CHICAGO -- When David Ross warms up in the outfield, fans have been cheering for "Grandpa" to reach 100 career home runs.

"Ever since I hit 99, all I hear is 'Hit a homer, grandpa,'" Ross said. "Nobody knows my first name any more."

On Friday, Ross reached the century mark in homers, launching a three-run blast in the fourth inning to help the Cubs beat the Phillies, 6-2. It was career home run No. 100, and pitcher Jon Lester has had a bottle of champagne waiting for his batterymate to celebrate.

Ross began the season with 96 homers, and Cubs players have been tracking each one of his shots.

"The boys were excited, I was excited," Ross said. "My favorite part while this has been going on is rounding second base and looking in the dugout. It makes me smile every time seeing everybody so happy for me and counting down for me. They're as happy as I am. That makes me feel good."

The veteran catcher has announced he will retire at the end of the year, which is his 15th season in the big leagues.

"It was just my personal thing," he said of the 100 mark. "It's nice to have a nice round number. A hundred in The Show, we like to say. That's pretty cool for me. That it affected the game and impacted the game is even better."

Ross on 100th homer

As Ross, 39, launched a 1-0 pitch from the Phillies' Adam Morgan to left in the fourth inning, the Cubs' dugout erupted with high fives and cheers. Ross couldn't help but smile as he rounded the bases.

"When he retires, that's going to feel really good to know he accomplished all of that," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who gave the catcher a bottle of wine. "He really does so much good work behind the plate for us. That's really a nice little something on the cake there for his career."

After exchanging a celebratory bump with each of his teammates in the dugout, Ross then tipped his cap during a curtain call.

"I'm not used to those," Ross said. "When the fans are into it, there's not a better feeling in the world. When they bring that energy and they're cheering for you, there's no better feeling than that."

Last season, Ross scuffled, batting .176, and hit just one home run. He's batting .254 so far and has the most RBIs (17) since 2012.

"I'm proud to contribute to a good team," Ross said. "None of us like to fail. Failing is not fun. I had a lot of failure at the plate last year. You've just got to keep working and you never know what's going to happen the next at-bat, the next month or the next year. You have to keep working hard and trying your best. That's what I've learned over my 14 years is, you know what, I'm going to go out there and put my best foot forward and play hard for my teammates."

And anyone who doesn't think Ross contributes to the team just doesn't know him.

"He brings so much more to us and to the game than just being a backup catcher," Lester said. "He makes our clubhouse better, he makes our guys better. He knows how to go about pushing buttons with certain guys and getting the best out of them. I know that's true for myself. He knows how to say the right things without going too far."

Ross hit his first career home run on Sept. 2, 2002, off Mark Grace, who was called on to pitch in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 19-1 win over the D-backs. Every time Ross sees Grace, he jokes that he hit a "bomb" off him.

Does Ross have a favorite home run?

"Everybody likes hitting homers, they're all my favorites," he said. "I'm not unhappy about any of them, to be honest."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.