Kasey Ignarski of Orland Park, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, recently wrote a book with Al Yellon and Matthew Silverman called "Cubs By The Numbers."
May 01, 2009 | 05:47 AM
Growing up north of Midway Airport on the south side of Chicago, it would seem that Kasey Ignarski was destined to be a Chicago White Sox fan. But the Orland Park resident spent his days growing up tuned into WGN-TV and watching the Chicago Cubs.
"I've been a wrong-sider my whole life," Ignarski said. "The Cubs were on during the day and that's basically it — my folks weren't big baseball fans. I just fell in love with the team, the ballpark I just love.
"I would sit out on the bleachers every Saturday. I've had season tickets since 1984 — I don't know why I became a fan. It just happened."
Call it what you will, but the 52-year-old Orland Park resident was onto something when he began scoring the games he attended. Ignarski recently co-authored a book "Cubs By The Numbers" with Al Yellon and Matthew Silverman. The book, published in March, features a team history of the Cubs by uniform number. It includes facts, trivia and biographical details on over 1,300 Cubs' players.
A computer programmer by day, Ignarski was involved in an internet news group for the Cubs in 1995 when someone started recalling old players. Ignarski dug out his scorecards and began listing the players and their uniform numbers on the site, later branching out to his own Web site, www.cubsbythenumbers.com
. His site helped with much of the research.
It was actually the bleachers where Ignarski met Yellon, who directs newscasts at ABC-7 in Chicago.
"I've known Al for years — he had season tickets for the bleachers and that's how we met," Ignarski said. "Al came to me with the suggestion to do the book because he saw a similar one for the New York Mets.
"He said we could do something like it. We contacted Matthew Silverman, who coauthored the Mets book and he agreed to do it — a big Mets' fan and two Cubs' fans working together."
Ignarski began researching additional uniform numbers last March with the help of the Cubs historian, Ed Hartig and a store in Skokie called AU Sports Memorabilia, who had file cabinets filled with old scorecards.
Through his research, Ignarski discovered several stories that would make any Cubs fan nostalgic.
One of Ignarski's favorite stories was the search for Ron Santo's number.
"Everyone knows him as No. 10, but someone had mentioned through a Web site that he wore No. 15 at some point," he said. "I had never heard of that and nothing I have seen had him wearing No. 15."
In stepped AU Sports and much to everyone's surprise, Santo did indeed wear No. 15 during his first week with the Chicago Cubs.
There is one name/number combination, however, Ignarski cannot find to this day.
"One number I couldn't find is a pitcher named Charlie Gassaway," he said. "He played for the Cubs in two games in 1944 at the end of the season on the road."
Ignarski contacted the Boston Braves Historical Society, as well as people in Philadelphia, where the Cubs had played.
"We searched and there are no traces — he's our remaining mystery player," he said.
No. 14 sticks out for Ignarski because that is the number his favorite player wore — Ernie Banks....continued on page 2