CHICAGO - (KRT) - Johnny Klippstein, a former
Chicago Cubs pitcher and still a fan of the team on his deathbed,
was listening to the Cubs' 5-4, 11th-inning victory over the Florida
Marlins when he died Friday night at St. Joseph's Hospice in Elgin,
away just after the Cubs scored that fifth run," said Klippstein's
son, John. "He was listening to the game as we had it on the TV
at his bedside, clutching my hand and blinking to let us know he
was aware of what was going on.
out one more victory."
who died one week before his 76th birthday and one day before he
and wife Mary Ann's 52nd wedding anniversary, was a major-league
pitcher for 18 years, the first five with the Cubs from 1950 through
1954. He compiled a career record 101-118 as both a starting and
relief pitcher. He pitched in two World Series, the first in 1959
for the Dodgers against the White Sox and in 1965 for the Minnesota
"He was one
of the most-liked ballplayers of his time," said baseball's official
historian, Jerome Holtzman, who covered baseball in Chicago for
more than 40 years. "Everybody loved the guy, including me."
Born in Washington,
D.C., he was visiting relatives as a 16-year-old high school student
from Silver Spring, Md., when he attended a tryout in Appleton,
Wis. The team there was a minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis
"My dad was
among 300 who tried out, and the only one signed to a contract,"
John Klippstein said.
the teenager ineligible to keep competing in sports at Montgomery
Blair High School, where he had played baseball and basketball.
But it started him toward a major-league career in which he pitched
in 711 games with eight teams.
a Chicago-area resident for half a decade and a season ticket-holder
unable to attend games this year, was diagnosed with prostate cancer
in 1993 and in remission until last year. He suffered a stroke earlier
this year as he was undergoing physical rehabilitation. He was hospitalized
five weeks ago and transferred to St. Joseph's Hospice on Monday.
were with him at the hospice Friday night. Survivors include his
widow, Mary Ann, a niece of former Cubs pitcher Emil "Dutch" Leonard;
daughters Mary Jo and Barbara; son John; and nine grandchildren.
His wake will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at O'Connor Funeral
Home and the funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St.
Mary's Catholic Church, both in Huntley, Ill.
Johnny got to see a Cubs victory and he died peacefully," said ex-Cub
said he and his father "talked Sunday, and he said he thought the
Cubs could win it all because of their fine pitching."