On a team rich in young talent, David Ross served as a veteran guru to the historic 2016 Chicago Cubs. The 39-year-old backup catcher, who played for seven MLB teams in 15 seasons, was known to his Cubs teammates as "Grandpa Rossy." When Ross announced before the 2016 season that it would be his last, Cubs stars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, 26 and 24 on Opening Day 2016 respectively, took it upon themselves to open an Instagram, @grandparossy_3.
Well, Ross left baseball by winning his championship and becoming the oldest player to hit a homer in Game 7 of the World Series. And he earned something else at the end of the year.
"He's got the password to Instagram now, so he's in full control," Bryant says.
Ross is retired from playing, but not retired from the Cubs. In January, the team announced Ross will remain onboard as a special assistant. For Bryant, that means he can't escape Ross's constructive criticism.
"We gave each other a hard time all the time," Bryant says. "He's gonna be around, I don't know, he's a special assistant now. He's got so many more opportunities, which is awesome to see. Couldn't happen to a better guy, so we're gonna miss him but he'll still be there to give us a phone call when we need it and to tell us what we're doing wrong even though [he's] not playing anymore. I don't know if I'm looking forward to that, but we're gonna miss him on the field."
Bryant spoke to reporters via Skype in MLB Network's Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey, as part of Topps' unveiling of its 2017 Series 1 Baseball Set. Bryant, the reigning NL MVP, is the No. 1 card in the set, and the cover boy for the pack.
"Any baseball player is gonna have some baseball cards," Bryant says of his youth. "It wasn't as prevalent as it is today, but I always opened baseball packs of baseball cards, Pokemon cards, it was something that I was in to. It's really cool to see the memorabilia and the baseball cards, how excited people get for them because it brings the player closer to the fan."
MLB Network hosts Harold Reynolds, Greg Amsinger and Lauren Shehadi attended the event.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) February 8, 2017
The Cubs open their first season without Ross since 2014 on April 2 in St. Louis at 8:35 p.m. ET on ESPN. They'll get their rings at the home opener April 10 against the Dodgers, their opponent in last season's NLCS.