CHICAGO -- Fred Washington first set foot into the friendly confines at 33-years-old. Months later he became a member of the grounds crew.
That was in 1984, a massive year in Cubs history as Ryne Sandberg led the team to its first post season since 1945.
“I thought they won because of me,” he said.
Maybe Fred is a bit of Cubbie luck. Now in his mid 60’s, he decided to retire at the end of this season. And another winning season it is.
“ I cannot fathom us going there in my lifetime but it’s something I’ve always wanted,” he says. “And for it to be a reality, and me being a part of that, is phenomenal.”
Not only has Fred been a part of it, he’s had one of the best seats in the house. In 1990, Fred started working the centerfield scoreboard. He has manned the numbers – good or bad – for more than a quarter century.
Flying the W is his job too. And while there have been lots this season, Fred remembers the years the ‘W’ saw very little sunlight.
“We wore the loss flag out,” he says of those days. “It was so tattered and torn. The win flag had so many creases you could shave with it.”
And he says he wouldn’t change a second of it. In awe of this ballpark from the moment he stepped in it, Fred says he has spent his career sharing the feeling with fans.
“I enjoy this everyday so its good to share that enjoyment,” he says.
This season, Fred says his fellow crew members have pampered him and taken it easy on the “old man.” He focuses a lot of his time on perfecting the dugouts when he’s not in the scoreboard.
Fred says the ending of his career is almost bittersweet, except with all the sweetness surrounding this year’s team, he pays very little attention to the bitter.
“I’m a Cub fan and there’s no other way to go,” he says. “Somebody is going to inherit a very good job.’