CHICAGO (AP) — Lennie Merullo, the oldest former member of the Chicago Cubs and the last living person to play for them in the World Series, died Saturday. He was 98.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said in a statement that Merullo died earlier in the day. The team didn’t include details of Merullo’s death.
Merullo was a major league shortstop from 1941-47, all with the Cubs. He hit .240 with six home runs and 152 RBIs.
Merullo played three games in the 1945 World Series and went 0 for 2. The Cubs lost in seven games to Detroit, and haven’t made it back to the Series since then.
Last June, Merullo traveled from his home in Massachusetts and returned to Wrigley Field as part of the ballpark’s 100th celebration.
Wearing a Cubs jersey, he used a walker to go from his wheelchair toward the mound and threw out the first ball before the Cubs played the Marlins, getting a big cheer from the fans.
During the seventh-inning stretch, he took part in Wrigley Field tradition and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” over the stadium’s sound system and drew another big ovation.
Merullo recalled that after the 1945 Series, the Cubs imagined they’d make it back soon enough.
“Yeah, sure,” he said. “We never gave up hope.”
Merullo later scouted for the Cubs. His grandson, Matt Merullo, played six years in the majors, mostly with the Chicago White Sox.
“While I have experienced many joys as owner of this great franchise, one of the most memorable was meeting Lennie last season,” Ricketts said.
“When the Cubs last appeared in a World Series in 1945, Lennie was a 28-year-old shortstop. Nearly 70 years later, he brought the same youthful spirit and excitement,” he said. “To his family, friends and loved ones, our organization will never forget him.”