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Pitcher Ryan Dempster said: “It’s a tough day for everyone because a really, really good person and good man gets let go because we didn’t do our job on the field.”

He added he will “always be grateful” for the chance Hendry gave him.

The 56-year-old Hendry was named general manager in July 2002 and he spent 17 years overall with the organization. He paused several times to compose himself while talking with reporters.

“Not many get to be the GM for nine without a world championship,” said Hendry, who had a year left on his contract. “So I got more than my fair chance to do that. I’m disappointed in myself that we didn’t get it done in the first five to seven years when I thought we could. I’m very thankful for the way I’ve been treated.”

Asked about Ricketts, Hendry said: “I think he understood that we probably weren’t going to be great the way things were set up. Moving forward there are a lot of huge decisions that have to be made this offseason and I think that if I was the one making them and they all didn’t work out, then the person after me would have to wear some of those for longer.”

One name that has surfaced as a potential candidate to replace Hendry is White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. He wrote in a text message, “Like everyone else here, my focus is currently on the 2011 White Sox. Questions about my personal future can wait for another time.”

White Sox GM Ken Williams made it clear he thinks Hahn is the right man for the job, calling him “one of the most qualified men to assume the position moving forward. What Mr. Ricketts does is his own business, though.”

He also said Hendry is “good at what he does” and “swung for the fences.”

There were too many misses recently. This season has been particularly tough, and the Cubs‘ search for their first championship since 1908 will continue.

Dempster got in a shouting match with his manager, the disabled list has been crowded, and Carlos Zambrano _ who criticized his own closer early in the year _ was banished from the team for a month after walking out of the clubhouse on a night he surrendered five home runs.

Hendry tried to bolster the lineup and drew some buzz by bringing back Wood with a one-year, $1.5 million deal to be a setup man for closer Carlos Marmol. Yet fat contracts for Zambrano, Soriano and Aramis Ramirez have always had fans wanting more from their stars, and the only move the Cubs made at the trade deadline last month was dealing outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland.

Jim, I think he did a great job,” Ramirez said. “It’s just that lately _ ‘09, last year and this year _ we haven’t gotten it done. You can’t release 25 guys. Somebody has to pay the price.”

Hendry was behind deals in 2003 to bring Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon to the Cubs, pushing them into the NLCS. They came within five outs of the World Series, with Hendry and the rest of Cubs Nation foiled in part by fan Steve Bartman’s foul ball attempt in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Marlins.

The next year, Hendry landed pitcher Greg Maddux and traded for Nomar Garciaparra to set the Cubs up for another playoff run _ only to watch them blow the wild-card lead in the final week of the season.

Over the years, Hendry hired veteran managers Dusty Baker and Piniella, hoping to mold the perennial losers into a regular contender, but he handed out big contracts to underperformers and at one point brought in Milton Bradley (three years, $30 million) for a brief, explosive stay in Chicago.

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