CHICAGO -- Rick Sutcliffe, who started Game 1 of the 1984 National League Championship Series for the Cubs, unofficially opened Chicago's fifth trip to the NLCS with Saturday's ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
Sutcliffe logged time with both of this year's NLCS participants, as he began his career with the Dodgers (1976-81) before spending eight seasons with the Cubs (1984-91). During his time in Chicago, Sutcliffe made three postseason appearances, all in the NLCS.
Before Sutcliffe walked out to the mound, Chicago crooner John Vincent performed the national anthem. Richard Dent, a former defensive end who spent the bulk of his NFL career with the Chicago Bears, delivered the "play ball" pronouncement.
Former Cubs Ryne Sandberg and Bob Dernier serenaded the sellout crowd with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.
Sandberg, a Cubs ambassador who played 16 seasons for the club during his Hall of Fame career, has been to almost every home game this year in his current role. As a former player whose career in the Windy City began in 1982, Sandberg may have a greater understanding of what the term "long-suffering Cubs fan" really means, but he also pointed out that the current players, though young, have a strong sense of what it means to play for this organization.
"I've been around the players and they really appreciate the history of the Cubs, the history of the game," Sandberg said. "They're very respectful with the way they handle themselves on the field, and it shows."
Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.