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Baseball Memories: For centenarian Cub fans, hope for a World Series win springs eternal

Richard Savage of Chicago has been a Cubs fan for all his 100 years, and he still hasn’t lived long enough to see his team win the World Series.

“Expectations are still dim,” Savage says. “But I still have hope.”

After all, hope dies last.

On Sunday, Savage and three other centenarian Cubs fans and their families celebrated their team’s 100 years of failure over a free lunch at ESPN Zone in Chicago.

“It’s not something to celebrate, 100 years of not winning the World Series,” ESPN Zone spokesman Brian Hanover says. “But we thought it would be fun to get together with people who have been part of the heritage of the Chicago Cubs for so many years. We’re trying to answer the question, ‘Is there anyone alive out there who remembers the 1908 World Series?’ ”

Well, nobody at this party.

Savage, Martha Hawkins of Chicago and Speedy Iavarone of Wood Dale, Ill., were all a few months old when the Cubs topped the Detroit Tigers in 1908, the same year the beloved seventh inning anthem “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” debuted.

And 102-year-old Lucia Klas of Morton Grove, Ill., was a toddler in Germany the last time the Cubbies won the big one.

The centenarian lunch crew said they didn’t remember a thing about the last time their favorite team won it all. But boy, do they have fond memories.

Klas, a retired seamstress, was yanked onto the Cubs bandwagon by late husband John, back when they lived about a mile away from Wrigley Field.

“We’d always walk to the ballpark,” Klas says. “I went to a lot of Ladies’ Days. Ladies were [admitted] free. If you don’t have to pay, you always go.”

Iavarone remembers being a Cubs fan back when you could get seven gallons of gas for a buck, watch a movie for a nickel and get bleacher seats for four bits.

“Now, those are good memories,” says Iavarone, whose son, Greg, once played minor-league ball for the Cubs farm system. “I’ve been a Cubs fan for a long time. You have to be patient. That’s my life lesson, be patient in everything. ... If the Cubs win the World Series, it would be amazing ... if I’m still here.”

Savage did the jitterbug in slow-motion behind his walker to a swinging rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by the Cubs Dixieland Band. What would he do to celebrate a Cubs World Series win?

“I’d probably buy myself a new hat.”

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