Longtime Cubs clubhouse attendant Yosh Kawano died Monday at a Los Angeles nursing home. He was 97.
Kawano died of complications from Parkinson’s disease and old age, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Kawano was known for wearing his trademark white fishing hat, which he donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on June 16, 2008.
Kawano was employed by the Cubs for 65 years before retiring early in the 2008 season at the age of 88. He started as a batboy for spring training in 1935. And eight years later, Kawano took on his full-time position at Wrigley Field. After working as the home clubhouse attendant for over five decades, Kawano was reassigned to the visitors’ clubhouse in 1999.
When the Wrigley family sold the Cubs to the Chicago Tribune in 1981, there was reportedly a clause that guaranteed Kawano a job for life at Wrigley Field and with the Cubs.
During his career with the Cubs, Kawano served 37 managers and 12 general managers.
Kawano was loved by many.
In 2005, Ryne Sandberg thanked Kawano during his Hall of Fame induction speech.
After news of his death broke, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins tweeted a picture of him and Kawano, calling him “one of a kind.”
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts reaffirmed Jenkins’ “one of a kind” sentiment and called Kawano an “integral part” of the Cubs’ history.
“For nearly 70 years, Yosh Kawano devoted himself to our club and players – calling Wrigley Field home and treating them as family,” Ricketts said in a statement. “He enjoyed deep and colorful relationships with players, members of the front office and the media … Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and legions of fans.”