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07/29/2008 7:33 PM ET
Schulze emotional prior to homecoming
Former first-rounder leads Kane County staff at Wrigley
Don Schulze is in his second season as pitching coach after a six-year Major League career. (Kane County Cougars)


CHICAGO -- Not only is Tuesday's "Road to Wrigley" game a homecoming for Ryne Sandberg, but also for the Cubs first-round pick in the 1980 First-Year Player Draft.

Twenty-eight years ago, the Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Don Schulze with the 11th overall selection. It was a dream day for Schulze, a Roselle, Ill., native that grew up a Cubs fan.

Perhaps it's by coincidence that, now in 2008, Schulze is the pitching coach for the Kane County Cougars, managing the pitching staff that will play the Peoria Chiefs at Wrigley Field. Schulze grew up 25 miles from Stickney, Ill., where Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula -- also a boyhood Cubs fan -- was raised.

"I grew up as a Cubs fan. The Cubs are my team," Schulze said. "To have the opportunity to come up and pitch in this stadium, it was everything."

Schulze didn't harbor many expectations about coming back, insisting that the game was "all about these kids." Still, it was impossible for the 45-year-old to not remember 1983, when he made his debut with the Cubs at the age of 20. Schulze would pitch in parts of two seasons with the Cubs before being traded in 1984 with Joe Carter as part of a package to acquire Rick Sutcliffe. His memories from Wrigley are only positive.

"It was almost emotional when I came back," he said. "It was fun. When you're here, you're here. But when you step away from it and you come back, it brings on great memories."

On a dime, Schulze has no problem remembering his first Wrigley Field outing: Sept. 13, 1983. He also remembers a thing or two about the two-inning relief appearance, which happened to cross paths with another Cubs legend.

"I just remember that the first guy I faced was Gary Carter, the first guy I struck out was Andre Dawson," he said. "It was pretty special."

Schulze will certainly take beating another Cubs legend, Sandberg, in his coaching debut at Wrigley Field.

Bryan Smith is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.