It was the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Like thousands of other prospects young first baseman Anthony Rizzo was waiting for his name to be called. Then it came, with their sixth round pick, the Boston Red Sox selected the kid out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Anthony Vincent Rizzo.
Rizzo got off to a terrific start in Single-A Greenville hitting a stellar .373. However, early through the 2008 season, Rizzo began to feel different. He began to feel weak and tired and his legs began to swell. On top of all of this, Rizzo put on 15 pounds. Then it came.
April 2008, Rizzo was diagnosed by doctors with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. All of a sudden Rizzo’s baseball career didn’t mean much. The thing that meant the most to him and his family now was tougher than any breaking ball he would ever face in the batter’s box. Cancer.
A couple of weeks later, Rizzo began his six months of chemotherapy. After a long battle, on September 2, 2008 doctors told him he could live a normal life. Rizzo was set to enter remission and would soon be back on the diamond.
Rizzo eventually returned to the Sea Dogs where he picked up right where he left off. In 2009, Rizzo hit .297 with 12 HR’s and 66 RBI’s between A and High-A. He followed that up with an even stronger 2010. In 136 games between High-A and AA, Rizzo hit a combined .260 with 25 HR’s and 100 RBI’s.
In December of 2010, Rizzo was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez. Rizzo received a Spring Training Invite as a non-roster player at the start of the 2011 season. In his first 15 games in AAA, he hit .452 with 6 HR’s and 24 RBI’s. Then it happened.
June 9, 2011. After all the weeks of treatment, all the therapy, all the fight and determination, Anthony Rizzo made his major league debut on June 9, 2011 against the Washington Nationals. In his first at-bat, Rizzo struck out looking, later in the game he smacked a triple for the first hit of his MLB career. Two days later, Rizzo smacked a first pitch fastball over the right field fence for his first big league home run. After only 98 at-bats, Rizzo was hitting only .143, and was demoted back to AAA. He was recalled in September and finished his first season in the big leagues hitting .141 in 128 at-bats.
In 2012, Rizzo was traded one more time. This time, Rizzo was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Andrew Cashner. He started in the minors, where he excelled again hitting .342 with 23 HR’s and 62 RBI’s. On June 26, Rizzo got the call to help a struggling Cubs offense.
Rizzo provided the Cubs with just what they needed. In his first five games, he delivered three game-winning RBI’s. In the month of June, he led all NL rookies with seven home runs, 32 hits, 17 RBI’s, and 55 total bases. He also ranked second amongst rookie with 14 runs scored and was ranked third with a batting average of .330. He continued this success by being named July’s Rookie of the Month. He finished the year with an average of .285 with 15 HR’s and 48 RBI’s. After a strong first year in Chicago, Rizzo and the Cubs agreed on a 7-year, $41 million deal.
The 2014-15 season is when Rizzo really broke out. He was named to his first career All-Star game and participated in the annual Home Run Derby. The slugger finished the season second in the National League with 32 HR’s. Rizzo finished tenth in NL MVP voting. He followed that up by finishing fourth in MVP voting the next year, after hitting 31 HR’s and 101 RBI’s.
In his fourth season in the majors, Rizzo helped do something Cubs fans haven’t seen in 107 years. He finished the year with an average of .292 with 32 HR’s and 109 RBI’s. He became the first lefty in Cubs history to finish the season with over 40 doubles and 30 home runs. Rizzo helped the Cubs finish the season with the best record in baseball and a playoff berth. After a slow start to the playoffs, Rizzo heated up when the Cubs needed it most. Rizzo was a vital part to the Cubs last three wins in the NLCS, helping them clinch their first World Series since 1945. Rizzo was a vital part in the World Series for the Cubs. In the seven game series, Rizzo hit .360 with 1 HR and 5 RBI’s. In Game 7, Rizzo went 1-for-5 with a big RBI double, and scored the game winning run.
Anthony Rizzo. The “emotional wreck,” the “glass case of emotions,” the fan favorite, the leader, the 3x-All Star, the hero, the fighter, the cancer survivor. And last but certainly not least, the curse breaking 2016 World Series Champion.