Yosh Kawano (June 4, 1921 – June 25, 2018) was an American clubhouse manager for the Chicago Cubs baseball team who retired in 2008 and was known for his trademark white fishing hat. Kawano's long service and dedication to the team made him a part of Chicago Cubs team lore. Kawano is honored in the Cubs Walk of Fame, a series of banners hanging in the concourse of Wrigley Field. (Kawano also had a plaque in the original Walk of Fame, a series of plaques embedded in the concrete walkway outside the main entrance to Wrigley Field at the corner of Clark and Addison Streets in Chicago.)
According to the June 3rd, 1943, issue of The Sporting News, Kawano's first baseball job was as batboy for the Chicago White Sox during their California spring training that season. This assignment brought him reprieve from an internment camp for Japanese citizens. Kawano had been interned at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona.
Kawano spent 65 years as a Cubs employee. He was stationed in the team's home clubhouse at Wrigley Field for many years until he was assigned again to the visitors' clubhouse in 1999.
The Kawano clause and legacy
Reportedly, the contract for the sale of the Cubs from the Wrigley family to the Chicago Tribune in 1981 included a clause to guarantee Kawano a job for life with the Cubs. Former Cubs player and enshrined member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ryne Sandberg has suggested that if the Cubs were ever to change the name of Wrigley Field, that the ballpark should be named Yosh Kawano Field. Sandberg also thanked Kawano in his Hall of Fame induction speech.
On Thursday, June 26, 2008, it was announced that Yosh Kawano would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2008 season. Kawano joined Cubs' Hall of Famer Billy Williams as guest conductor for "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch of the Cubs-Orioles game on June 26, 2008, a game which the Cubs lost 11-4 to the Baltimore Orioles.
On July 14, 2009, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that two weeks earlier security guards had ejected Kawano from Wrigley Field. The action was allegedly taken to protect Kawano, who was visiting friends there when he was escorted from the park. According to the Sun-Times: "Cubs executives did not know of the incident and said they will contact Kawano directly 'to let Yosh know he is always welcome,' senior vice president Michael Lufrano said."
In all, Kawano worked under 37 Cubs managers, 12 general managers and two owners.
Kawano's brother, Nobu Kawano, was clubhouse manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers 1959-1991.
Kawano died on June 25, 2018 in at a nursing home in Los Angeles, California, of complications from Parkinson's disease.
- "Cubs to unveil updated Walk of Fame". 2002-04-02. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "National Archives: Yosh Kawano". Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- Ryne Sandberg (2005-04-05). "Vote of confidence". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- "Ryne Sandberg's Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech". 2005-07-31. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- Bruce Markusen (2008-06-16). "Kawano donates hat to Hall of Fame". MLB.com. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
- Ginnetti, Toni (July 14, 2009). "Embarrassed Yosh Kawano thrown out of Wrigley Field". Chicago Sun-Times.