Friday, March 24 2023

How Heyward’s influence all over Ian Happ’s Gold Glove originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In the first 65 years of MLB awarding Gold Gloves (1957-2021) a Cubs outfielder took home the honor on just five occasions.

Jason Heyward was responsible for two of those, winning the award in 2016 and ’17. Andre Dawson (1987-88) and Bob Dernier (1984) were the others.

And as it turns out, Heyward had at least some hand in the sixth time a Cubs outfielder took home the honor.

“For J-Hey to have done it twice while he was here is so awesome,” said Ian Happ, who was named the 2022 National League Gold Glove winner in left field on Tuesday.

“For me to have that as a mentor as I came up, he’s a big part of this too.”

RELATED: Gold Glove honor representative of Ian Happ’s 2022 breakout

Happ made his big-league debut in 2017, Heyward’s second season with the Cubs.

He moved all around the diamond in his first few big-league seasons, playing every outfield spot, second and third base and even seeing a little action at first.

Happ has seen his most time in the outfield in his six seasons and almost exclusively played there the last three. And what better mentor for him than Heyward, who has five Gold Gloves on his mantle?

“He’s a big part of where I’m at mentally and a big part of learning how to play the outfield at this level, especially when I started doing it full time,” Happ said.

Happ said he spent a lot of time with Heyward the last couple of spring trainings going through the various tricks and trades of playing outfield. That includes positioning, charging the ball, the wind and the wall.

The latter two, of course, are always tricky factors when playing at Wrigley Field, and Heyward made it look easy as a Cub.

“I can’t tell you how much I have used him as a resource,” Happ said of Heyward.

The Cubs plan to release Heyward this offseason entering the final season of the eight-year contract he signed entering 2016.

With that news over the summer, Happ and others talked about the tremendous impact Heyward had on the Cubs and them personally, both on and off the field.

For Happ specifically, Heyward — who went through his own on-field struggles with the Cubs — played a “huge part” in Happ working through his struggles in 2021.
While Heyward will move on this winter, his impact on the organization is lasting, from the record books to more personal snapshots like Happ.

“What an influence and what a mentor that I’ve had,” Happ said.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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