Region 8 has ties to last Cubs World Series appearance

Family of Cubs World Series player speaks
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The last time the Chicago Cubs played in a World Series, a Region 8 man stood on the mound.

On Monday, just a day before the Chicago Cubs return to the World Series in over 70 years, the family of ace pitcher Hank Wyse pulled out memorabilia from his 1945 World Series experience.

"I got to sit down with him for a couple of hours, and it was just fascinating talking to him about things that happened 40 years ago," said Jerry Heckmann.

Heckmann had that conversation with the superstar baseball player in the late 1980's.

"He started in Game Two of the series against the Detroit Tigers," Heckmann said.

The Cubs fell short to the Tigers that game 4-1 after a player hit a 3-run home run off of Wyse.

Come Game Seven at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Wyse told Heckmann he blamed the team's manager for the Cubs' loss because he was not the starting pitcher.

"Hank was livid over that," he said.

The family still has newspaper clippings proving Hank was upset. The headline in one of the papers read, "Ex-Cubs' Ace Still Blames Manager for Losing Series."

"He told me he felt like if I started that game, the Cubs would've been the world champions in 1945," Heckmann said.

Hank pitched in the 9th inning of Game Seven but still came up short, allowing the Tigers to win the championship.

Heckmann said although Hank enjoyed the World Series, in 2000 he took the last game's disappointment to his grave.

Now 16 years later, his family keeps the memorabilia close.

"This is a ball he signed for my oldest son, John," Heckmann said.

Hank's niece, Linda Whitley, said the family is in awe that finally, after all these years, the Cubs will return to the series.

"It brings back a lot because when I first heard that they were going to play in the World Series, I thought oh, Uncle Hank pitched in the last World Series that they were in, so it's amazing," Whitley said.

They both said Hank is probably looking down on the team and rooting for a win.

"Oh I think he would be ecstatic," Whitley said.

"Oh I think he would be too," Heckmann said. "He'd probably be saying if Joe Maddon would start me, we'd win."

Though Jerry is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, Linda said she would be rooting on the Cubbies this series.

The Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night for Game One of the 2016 World Series.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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