As you might have heard, Virgil Trucks -- World War II veteran, spinner of two no-hitters (in the same season!) and winner of 177 games -- passed away recently at the age of 95. He had been the oldest living Detroit Tiger.
Trucks' passing also bears another implication for baseball history. Let's let writer/researcher Chris Jaffe (author of this most excellent book) sum it up:
Virgil Trucks passing means only 1 man is alive that ever played against the Cubs in a World Series: Ed Mierkowicz.— Chris Jaffe (@jaffechris) March 25, 2013
The Cubs, of course, last won the pennant in 1945, and in that particular Fall Classic they fell to Trucks' and Mierkowicz's Tigers in the full seven games.
Miercowicz, now 89, was a 21-year-old rookie back in '45, and while he went on to bat just .175 in 67 career plate appearances he did see the field against the Cubs. In the ninth inning of Game 7, with the Tigers' protecting a 9-3, Detroit manager Steve O'Neill deployed Miercowicz in left field as a defensive replacement for future Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. In doing so, Miercowicz would lay the foundation for what he is today: the last living ballplayer to face the long-suffering Cubs in the World Series. Jaffe notes elsewhere that two members of the '45 Cubs -- Andy Pafko and Lennie Merullo -- are thankfully still with us.
On that topic, the Cubs' 67-year pennant drought is easily the longest in major-league history. If it's any consolation for Cubs rooters, then recall that the Expos/Nationals and Mariners franchises have never won a pennant, although their "droughts" don't span as long as that of the Cubs.
In a cosmically related matter, the '45 World Series also marks the occasion of William Sianis' vindinctive curse against those Cubs. Courtesy of the Billy Goat Tavern tucked away under Michigan Avenue (a truly sublime place to grab a beer), here's the back-story ...
October 6th, a sad day in Cubs history. The Cubs entered game four of the World Series leading the Detroit Tigers 2 games to 1, and needing to win only two of the next four games played at Wrigley Field. A local Greek, William "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to Game four. Hoping to bring his team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, with him to the game. At the entrance to the park, the Andy Fran ushers stopped Billy Goat from entering saying that no animals are allowed in the park. Billy Goat, frustrated, appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley replied, "Let Billy in, but not the goat." Billy Goat asked, "Why not the goat?" Wrigley answered, "Because the goat stinks." According to legend, the goat and Billy were upset, so then Billy threw up his arms and exclaimed, "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field."
And here, courtesy of Getty Images, are Mr. Sianis and Murphy, those authors of blight ...
Somewhere, Virgil Trucks approves of this image.