Longtime Cubs staffer Jimmy Farrell dies at 91
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org December 28, 2012 3:36PM
Jimmy Farrell, right, with former Cubs relief pitcher Kerry Wood. Farrell was the former clubhouse manager for the umpires at Wrigley Field.
Updated: December 28, 2012 6:08PM
Jimmy Farrell was as much a part of Wrigley Field and the Cubs as the ivy on the outfield walls.
But only those with inner knowledge of the day-to-day workings at the ballpark would have known the gentle man who spent more than two decades making sure one of the key elements of a ball game was in order—the umpires.
From 1982 until he retired in 2007, Farrell worked as the umpire room attendant, seeing to the needs of the men in black, from personal and professional supplies to words of friendship.
``Jimmy loved his job as the umpire room attendant and loved all of his many friends in the Cubs organization—and we loved him back,’’ team spokesman Peter Chase said Friday.
Farrell died this week at the age of 91.
Along with longtime clubhouse attendant Yosh Kawano, Farrell was a fixture at Wrigley Field, though not as well known as the sailor-capped Kawano.
But he preferred it that way.
Yet ask him about his family—his late wife Eleanor or his children or especially his grand-and great grand children and his face would light up with delight.
He was a South Sider by birth and graduate of Leo High School, but his mother would take him to Cubs games as well. Baseball remained a lifelong love, but it wasn’t until the World War II veteran retired after 29 years working for the Chicago Public School system that his ``second career’’ in the game began.
Eleanor told him he needed something to do. A friend who knew someone had gotten a job with the Cubs suggested he, too, apply.
A few days later, a surprised Jimmy was hired.
Fans would see him at the beginning of a game putting the rosin bag and game ball on the mound and bringing water to umpires between innings of a hot day or their jackets on a cold one.
What they never saw were the friendships he developed with players, umpires and the day-to-day personnel working at Wrigley Field.
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg adored him as he did Kawano. And Hall of Famer Andre Dawson was apologetic when he learned Farrell just missed getting hit by the bats Dawson sent flying in anger over a call by umpire Joe West, Farrell remembers in his memoir.
He was married to Eleanor for 68 years before her death last December. He is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.