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Baseball Remembers Yosh Kawano

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Chicago Cubs are mourning a member of the team who never threw a pitch or had an at-bat.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yeah, it's former Cubs clubhouse attendant Yosh Kawano. He died Monday at a nursing home here in Los Angeles. He was 97 years old. His friend Tony Ruzicka (ph) gave us this astonishing fact.

TONY RUZICKA: Yosh worked longer for the Cubs than the Wrigley family owned the Cubs.

INSKEEP: Yeah, the Wrigley family, which still has its name on the ballpark, owned the team 60 years. Kawano served the Cubs 65 years, commonly wearing a floppy white fishing hat.

GREENE: He started as a bat boy in 1935, then had to stop for World War II. He was Japanese-American. The United States imprisoned him with his family as it forced all Japanese-Americans into internment camps. It was not until yesterday that the Supreme Court formerly called that unconstitutional. When he was released, Kawano enlisted in the U.S. Army.

INSKEEP: Returning to Wrigley Field, he eventually became equipment manager. He worked under dozens of managers and general managers. His friend Ruzicka says he stayed loyal to the players and they to him.

RUZICKA: They had the utmost respect for him. They know how much he loved the Cubs. They know how serious he was. They knew how protective he was of the players.

GREENE: Kawano retired in 2008, and his trademark fishing hat can still be seen at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.