Cubs TV play-by-play man Len Kasper said it best about former Cubs player Lennie Merullo today:
Lennie Merullo best 7th inn. guest we’ve had in my 10 yrs here. No disrespect to anyone else but it doesn’t get any better than that. Wow.
— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) June 7, 2014
The man is 97 years old and looks about 20 years younger, with his mind still as sharp as a knife though time has slowed down his movements and words a bit.
For all intents and purposes, Lennie Merullo was an unremarkable player. He was a shortstop on the Cubs 1945 World Series team, his only playoff appearance of his short professional career. He is now the only surviving member of that pennant winning club, and the entire time he was in the booth he seemed to be in great spirits. It was nice of the Cubs to make sure his trip away from his home in Boston was memorable as they defeated the Marlins 5-2. I was only following the game on Gameday for the first few innings as I took my son to Cub Scouts and didn’t actually tune in until around the third inning or so. Emilio Bonifacio actually hit a home run to put the Cubs ahead for good (I did a double take but WGN did show a replay so it did happen). This was relevant later in the booth when Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies were bantering with Lennie.
WHO’S EMILIO BONIFACIO?!?! ROFL I <3 Lenny Merullo. — Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) June 7, 2014
I had been listening to the last few rounds of the MLB Draft at the time but switched my attention completely to the interview at that point. The guy was just so matter-of-fact and genuine about everything, he was like a grandfatherly figure who you couldn’t help but feel warm around. He talked about his old friend, Andy Pafko (who passed away recently) and also alluded to his long marriage to the girl across the street (73 years!). When Junior Lake homered for the second time in the game, this happened:
“Who’s that?” “Junior Lake with his second of the day!” “No kidding!” <3 Lennie Merullo http://t.co/MjJLe6m0HM
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) June 8, 2014
I think most of us lost it at that point because it was just so random and funny. As luck would have it, the Cubs will travel to Boston at the end of the month and I think most of us echo this sentiment from pitchf/x guru Harry Pavlidis:
if Lennie isn’t with them at Fenway the broadcast industry will have failed us all
— Harry Pavlidis (@harrypav) June 7, 2014
I still haven’t found the full video, but I will hope MLB does this for all of us:
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) June 7, 2014
Maybe we’ll get lucky and someone will upload their DVR’d snippet onto Youtube. Here’s the stretch, though, one of the best I’ve seen:
I love that he false-started the organist but didn’t give a crap, he just kept going. Lennie just seemed to have such a great time and it was infectious. We did get to see a Mike Olt defensive gem which Lennie enjoyed, and I loved the fan in the crowd with the random Oprah poster. His energy level at such an advanced age is inspiring. I loved the hell out of this game and it was made all the better because of Lennie Merullo.