The Obit For Johnny Klippstein

Former Cubs pitcher Klippstein dies while listening to NLCS

The Chicago Tribune,
Saturday, October 11, 2003

(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, Ill.

"He passed 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.

"He stuck out one more victory."

Klippstein, 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 Twins.

"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 Cardinals.

"My dad was among 300 who tried out, and the only one signed to a contract," John Klippstein said.

That made 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.

Klippstein, 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.

Family members 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.

"At least, Johnny got to see a Cubs victory and he died peacefully," said ex-Cub Andy Pafko.

John Klippstein said he and his father "talked Sunday, and he said he thought the Cubs could win it all because of their fine pitching."


John C. Klippstein

John C. Klippstein, of Sun City in Huntley, formerly of Inverness, passed away Friday October 10, 2003 in Elgin. Served in the U.S. Army after WW II.

Beloved husband of Mary Ann, nee Artac, for 51 years; loving father of Mary Jo (Mark) Hallberg, Barb (Dan) Brady and John (Kim) Klippstein; cherished grandfather of Kelly (Mike) Hallberg and Katie Hallberg, Taryn, Brittany, Matthew, Sean, Stacy and Shannon Brady and Kasey Klippstein; devoted uncle of Sally Klippstein.

John touched the lives of his many friends and will be missed. John was born in Washington D.C., raised in Silver Spring, MD, and a long time resident of the Chicago area.

John played major league baseball for 18 years, beginning his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1950, and played in two World Series.

John was the recipient of many awards including the Ken Hubbs Award for exemplary conduct on and off the field, and was inducted into the Illinois Sports Hall of Fame and was the current president of the Chicago Old Timers Association and past president of the Pitch and Hit Club.

Visitation will be held on Monday, October 13, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the James A. O'Connor Funeral Home, 11603 E. Main St., Huntley.

Visitation will continue on Tuesday October 14, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church 10307 Dundee Rd. (enter off Kreutzer Rd.), Huntley, with Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m.

Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery, Huntley.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL, 60611 or charity of choice.