When I interviewed Phil Cavarretta for my book, “Banks to Sandberg to Grace,” I asked him if he still watches the Cubs. “I sit there and second-guess the hell out of them,” he said. Cavarretta died Saturday at the age of 94. At the age of 18 he homered in his first Major League at-bat and his best season was 1945 when he won MVP honors and helped the Cubs get to the World Series. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
I came to the Cubs right out of high school. I had just two and a half months experience in Class A and I was called up. I was blessed with ability. The good Lord says he’ll put you on earth to become a professional baseball player, and he says it’s going to be up to you to play hard and be successful. That’s the truth. That’s why I always gave 110 percent.
My parents were from Italy. They could hardly speak English. It was during the depression in ’35 and I made the Cubs, and my parents were happy about it but they didn’t understand baseball. When I was going to school, I played softball. I played in the yard and was sliding around and getting all dirty and my pants all torn up. I’d come home and my dad would look at me all filthy. He’d look at me and he’d say, “Philly, where you been?”
I said, “Dad, I’ve been out in the schoolyard playing baseball with my friends.”
He said, “Baseball? What the hell is baseball? Baseball, you forget. You go to school, learn your books.”
My dad became a good baseball fan and he came out to Wrigley Field with my mom. He’d go into the office before the game and he’d say, “My son, Phillip, he win the ballgame for the Cubs today, OK?”
– Carrie Muskat