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Phil Cavarretta, Cubs star who won MVP in 1945, dies at 94

December 18, 2010 |  9:17 pm


Phil Cavarretta, the 1945 National League MVP who led the Chicago Cubs to their last World Series appearance, died Saturday. He was 94.

Cavarretta died at a hospice care center in Lilburn, Ga., of complications from a stroke, according to family members.

His son, Phil Cavarretta Jr., of Lilburn, said his father suffered the stroke about a week ago. He also had been battling leukemia for several years but that was in remission, Cavarretta Jr. said.

A first baseman and outfielder, Cavarretta broke into the major leagues in 1934 and spent the first 20 of his 22 seasons with the Cubs before moving across town to play 77 games for the White Sox.

The three-time All-Star led the NL with a .355 batting average and a .449 on-base percentage in 1945, when the Cubs lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Cavarretta was one of the last living members of that team. The Cubs have not won a pennant since and their last World Series championship came in 1908.

Cavarretta Jr. recalled hearing a story about his father crashing into the wall to catch a fly ball during a spring training game late in his career. When a writer asked him why he gave so much effort in an exhibition, Cavarretta responded: “Well, there are other players who are maybe trying to take my job,” his son said.

“He came from an era where they all played hard, but he was a player who gave even more,” Cavarretta Jr. said.

Cavarretta finished with a .293 batting average, 95 home runs and 920 RBIs in more than 2,000 games.

-- Associated Press

You can find the Chicago Tribune's obituary of Cavarretta here.