ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Baseball, more than any other sport, relies on its history to nourish its present. That's why it's worth listening to 87-year-old John Picchiotti.
As a 17-year old fresh out of Austin High School, he was picked up by the Cubs and played for the Hastings Cubs, the organization’s minor league team in the mid-1940s . He rubbed shoulders with the legends of the game playing against Mickey Mantle and against Jackie Robinson’s in Robinson’s minor league debut when his talent united a racially divided crowd.
“Boy did Jackie run,” Picchiotti says. “He ran like hell and he slid into home and he was safe, the ump called him safe. That's what you're looking for in baseball. Something exciting.”
And it doesn't get more exciting than the World Series. Picchiotti also attended the Cubs last World Series in 1945.
He says watching this year's cubs team stirs memories of the past, especially since the team was built with so many prospects from the Cubs farm system.
“I love the rookies,” he says. “I want to see them do things but they don't always do the right things, and they showed that last night.”
While many Cubs fans are pining for a trip to the World Series, Pichiotti says it would great, but the real reason to watch baseball isn't all about winning. Baseball above all else, he says, is about having fun.