CHICAGO – As fans flocked back to the Friendly Confines for the first time in over a year this April, they saw the familiar green of the ivy and red of the Wrigley marquee. But another color that’s grown synonymous with Wrigley Field over the years was nowhere in sight.
“People have me deceased on Facebook and Twitter and all that,” said Jim Anixter.
Anixter, AKA “The Pink Hat Guy,” is very much alive despite missing from his usual perch in the first row behind home plate.
“I’ve been at every single Opening Day from 1967 to 2019,” said the longtime Cubs season ticket holder.
Like every other fan, Anixter had to watch from home last season. This year though, he hasn’t returned yet under the advice of his doctors.
“In May of 2019 I was holding my chest walking back to the car from a game, and someone turned to my wife and asked, ‘Is your husband having heart attack,’” Anixter recalled. “I finally went to Lake Forest hospital to go get a stress test. On the 30th of May, the guy said go to the emergency room right away! Your middle artery is 99.5 percent blocked. I said, ‘blocked!’”
Anixter had two stents inserted. Then last year on his 76th birthday, a lung infection landed him in the hospital for a week. His doctors told him to wait to go back to the ballpark until Wrigley returned to full capacity.
“When there’s full capacity in theory it means everyone is vaccinated,” Anixter said.
That day finally comes Friday. Anixter will have on his trademarked hat –the one he got at the 1990 All-Star Game and wears so his wife can see him on TV to know where he is.
The Highland Park native also doles out dozens of hats during the game –asking in return only for a minimum $25 donation to the American Cancer Society.
“The American Cancer Society called me up and said, ‘Jim you’re doing a great thing. We know you’re raising money, but it’s not about that, it’s making people aware of how bad cancer is.”
Anixter can’t wait to watch games in person again and having attended one Cubs World Series in his lifetime, is holding out hope to see another.
“In a perfect world, this year the Cubs play the White Sox [in the World Series], and in Game 7 the Cubs are the home team and losing by three with two outs in the 9th and Javy Baez hits a grand slam, and the Cubs win the World Series,” Anixter said. “I can always dream for these things, right?”