Yosh Kawano’s old Chicago friends buy him a Cubs World Series ring

Yosh Kawano’s old Chicago friends buy him a Cubs World Series ring

One of the best things I saw over the weekend at Wrigley Field was a photo of Yosh Kawano wearing a replica Cubs championship ring.

Kawano was the longtime clubhouse man at Wrigley, frequently mentioned by announcers Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray during broadcasts from the 1960s to the ’90s. His white, floppy fisherman’s hat is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he was the last link to the Cubs teams from the 1940s.


Now 96 and living in a nursing home in Los Angeles, Kawano is unable to communicate.

But two brothers from Chicago, Tony and Carl Ruzicka, decided last year that Kawano deserved a World Series ring like everyone else connected to the organization. So they bought a ring from Jostens, had the name “Kawano” engraved, and presented it to him during a trip to Los Angeles in May.

“He continues to mean a lot to us,” Tony Ruzicka said. “He lived with Carl his last 10 years in Chicago, and Carl and I took him everywhere. We’ve known him since 1963, when we were ball boys at Wrigley Field.”

The Ruzickas also accepted a plaque for Kawano during spring training this year when he was voted into the Cactus League Hall of Fame. Tony said they loaned the plaque to Ferguson Jenkins for a museum he plans to open in Canada.

Kawano spent nearly 65 years working for the Cubs, first in the home clubhouse and later in the visitors’ clubhouse. He began in 1943 and ’44 before being drafted into the Army, then returned to the team after the war, serving under 37 managers, 12 general managers and two owners.

I’ve known Kawano for over 30 years, and for years I’d ask him on the first day of spring training if this finally was “the year.”

Kawano would laugh, shake his head, give a dismissive wave of the hand and walk away. Then “the year” finally happened in 2016.

The Ruzickas didn’t want Kawano’s long tenure in the organization to go unrewarded, so they decided to do something about it.

Article can be found at https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/cubs/ct-spt-cubs-yosh-kawano-world-series-ring-20180430-story.html 

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