Yosh Kawano

Yosh Kawano (1953)

Yosh Kawano (June 4, 1921 – June 25, 2018) was an American clubhouse manager for the Chicago Cubs baseball team who retired in 2008 and was known for his trademark white fishing hat. Kawano's long service and dedication to the team made him a part of Chicago Cubs team lore. A member of the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame, he is honored by a plaque in the concourse of Wrigley Field (he was also honored as a member of the original Walk of Fame).[1][2]

Early career

Born in Washington state,[3] Kawano began working for the Cubs in 1935 as a spring training batboy.[4] He began working at Wrigley Field as a visiting clubhouse attendant in 1943.[4]

According to the June 3rd, 1943, issue of The Sporting News, Kawano's first baseball job was as batboy for the Chicago White Sox during their California spring training that season. This assignment brought him reprieve from an internment camp for Japanese citizens. Kawano had been interned at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona.[5]

Later career

Kawano spent 65 years as a Cubs employee. He was stationed in the team's home clubhouse at Wrigley Field for many years until he was assigned again to the visitors' clubhouse in 1999.[4]

The Kawano clause and legacy

Reportedly, the contract for the sale of the Cubs from the Wrigley family to the Chicago Tribune in 1981 included a clause to guarantee Kawano a job for life with the Cubs. Former Cubs player and enshrined member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ryne Sandberg has suggested that if the Cubs were ever to change the name of Wrigley Field, that the ballpark should be named Yosh Kawano Field.[6] Sandberg also thanked Kawano in his Hall of Fame induction speech.[7]

On June 16, 2008, Kawano donated his trademark fishing hat to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.[8]

On Thursday, June 26, 2008, it was announced that Yosh Kawano would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2008 season. Kawano joined Cubs' Hall of Famer Billy Williams as guest conductor for "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch of the Cubs-Orioles game on June 26, 2008, a game which the Cubs lost 11–4 to the Baltimore Orioles.

On July 14, 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that two weeks earlier security guards had ejected Kawano from Wrigley Field. The action was allegedly taken to protect Kawano, who was visiting friends there when he was escorted from the park. According to the Sun-Times: "Cubs executives did not know of the incident and said they will contact Kawano directly 'to let Yosh know he is always welcome,' senior vice president Michael Lufrano said."[9]

In all, Kawano worked under 37 Cubs managers, 12 general managers and two owners.[4]

Family

Kawano's brother, Nobu Kawano, was clubhouse manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1991.[10]

Death

Kawano died on June 25, 2018, at a nursing home in Los Angeles, California, of complications from Parkinson's disease.[4]

References

  1. ^ "Cubs". cubs.fanportal-mlb.com. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  2. ^ "Cubs to unveil updated Walk of Fame". 2002-04-02. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  3. ^ Patrick M. O'Connell. "Baseball-loving brothers, now in 90s, were indispensable to Cubs, Dodgers for decades". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-11-24.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e Paul Sullivan. "Longtime Cubs clubhouse attendant Yosh Kawano, 'the king of Wrigley Field' dies at 97". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  5. ^ "Japanese American Internee Data File: Yosh Kawano". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  6. ^ Ryne Sandberg (2005-04-05). "Vote of confidence". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  7. ^ "Ryne Sandberg's Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech". 2005-07-31. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  8. ^ Bruce Markusen (2008-06-16). "Kawano donates hat to Hall of Fame". MLB.com. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  9. ^ Ginnetti, Toni (July 14, 2009). "Embarrassed Yosh Kawano thrown out of Wrigley Field". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. ^ "From internment camp to Dodgers and Cubs clubhouses, these brothers became part of baseball history". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-11-24.

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