Strauss: Talking with Cubs’ last link to World Series, Lennie Merullo

From Ben Strauss at the New York Times on May 20, 2014:

With a sweep of his arm, Lennie Merullo rolled up the sleeve of his cardigan sweater to reveal a faint scar on his left forearm. He was in the dining room of his Victorian house, scrapbooks full of old newspaper clippings from his baseball career spread on the table before him.

Merullo, 97, a former Chicago Cubs shortstop, wore a Cubs polo shirt under his sweater. A Cubs blanket was draped over a couch in the next room. He had a more prized souvenir, though; it dated to the 1945 World Series, the last time the Cubs reached baseball’s biggest stage.

He pointed at the thin, white line near his elbow, still visible nearly seven decades after he was spiked during a play at second base in Game 6.

“I scratched the scab for weeks,” he said. “Because I wanted a piece of the World Series to keep forever.”

Merullo is an heirloom today, with or without his scar. When his former teammate Andy Pafko died last year, Merullo became the last surviving player from the 1945 Cubs. By virtue of the team’s futility, he is the only living ballplayer to have worn a Cubs uniform in the World Series, a bittersweet distinction for both Merullo and surely the generations of long-suffering Cubs fans like him.

“I guess that makes me famous,” he said with a chuckle. “But, oh boy, I’d sure like to see them win one.”

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Originally published: May 20, 2014. Last Updated: May 20, 2014.