Lennie Merullo, the last living Cubs player from the 1945 World Series, died Saturday. He was 98.
Merullo played seven seasons at shortstop with the Cubs from 1941-47. After Andy Pafko’s death in 2013, Merullo became the only living person to have played for the Cubs in a World Series.
Merullo lived in Massachusetts and was in Chicago last summer to celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary. He wore a Cubs jersey and hat while using a walker to help him throw out the ceremonial first pitch against Miami on June 7.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a feeling that I can’t describe,” he told the Associated Press that day, noting it was his first trip to the Friendly Confines since the 1980s. “The excitement that is going through my body right now, it’s saying, ‘Lennie, do you realize you’re right in the center of Wrigley Field, the ballpark that you love?”
He also led the fans in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with his family during the seventh inning stretch.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement that meeting Merullo was one of his greatest joys as owner of the Cubs.
“If there was any doubt Wrigley Field does make dreams come true, you could look into Lennie’s eyes beaming with joy as he visited his beloved ballpark for what would be the last time,” Ricketts said in the statement. “He told everyone he would never forget that day. To his family, friends and loved ones, our organization will never forget him.”
Merullo was 28 when the Cubs played the Tigers in the ’45 World Series. He started Game 5 and went 0 for 2 at the plate.
He was a defensive substitute in Game 6 and recorded the final out of the 12th inning by tagging out Joe Hoover, who attempted to steal second base. The Cubs went on to win in the bottom half of the inning.
The Cubs lost the series with a 9-3 loss in Game 7, though, and haven’t been to a World Series since.
Merullo scouted for the Cubs for more than two decades after retiring in 1947. He played in 639 games as a player and was a career .240 hitter.