Taking a walk through the Wimbiscus house could confuse people into thinking they’re walking through a museum, especially in the sitting room at the back of the Peru house.
Judge Jim Wimbiscus — born in Spring Valley in 1937, a St. Bede graduate and a retired judge after 24 years on the bench in La Salle, Grundy, Bureau, Cook and McLean counties — went to his first Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field in 1946. He remembers his favorite team, the Cubs, losing 3-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since then, Wimbiscus has been to all 30 of the current MLB ballparks, 29 ballparks no longer in use and 25 NFL stadiums.
Through the years, Wimbiscus and his wife of 54 years, Jude, have collected all kinds of memorabilia or have had gifts given to them to remember certain games or performances they’ve seen in person.
“Our kids don’t know what to get us, so they keep getting us sports memorabilia.” said Jude, who grew up on the south side of Chicago and went to White Sox games. “Our life is full of stories. In 1981 when there was a baseball strike, we still wanted to go on one of our trips. We went to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and San Diego. I asked ‘Why are we doing this?’ It was the Cubs schedule.
“We drove past all of the stadiums but we couldn’t go in because they were locked out. In San Diego I told Jim, ‘I’m not sitting in a hot car with four kids while you look at a stadium.’”
In the sitting room, there is a brown chest full of programs, a box full of tickets, two shelves full of books, many framed photos at parks, three seats from Wrigley Field with the receipt for the $3 purchase from Cleveland Wrecking Co. dated 1969, Jim’s old glove from his playing days, many plaques and pennants.
Each of the trips Jim and Jude and their four children — James Wimbiscus (would be 53, deceased), Dave Wimbiscus (51), Ann Jennings (48) and Clare Wimbiscus (44) — went on are documented in some sort of way.
“I made a trip to Washington D.C. when the Bears were playing there,” Jim said. “Bob Kilcullen was a Bears player and he was in my class when I was in law school. He only attended class in the spring semester because he played for the Bears in the fall. He got me four tickets for the Bears and Washington game. (La Salle-Peru graduate) Joe Rutgens played in the game.
“I told my roommate that I had four tickets. He said, ‘I’ll try to get a pilot.’ It turned out he couldn’t get a pilot to get a four seater, so we found two pilots and took two army planes to the Bears game.”
The game happened when Jim was in the Army and stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia, which is 150 miles south of Washington D.C.
Jim can tell you stories from the five MLB All-Star games he’s been to or the five World Series games — Milwaukee Braves and New York Yankees in 1957, Cardinals and Boston Red Sox in 1967, St. Louis and Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 and Game 1 and Game 2 of the Cubs and Cleveland Indians in 2016.
Jude remembers getting tickets for the Cubs World Series extremely fondly.
“I told our kids, ‘I’m not really fast on the internet, can you get dad some tickets?’” said Jude, who has been to 37 MLB parks. “We went to Cleveland because we have nieces and nephews there. We took them to the game. My son in-law came up to us and said, ‘Do you want tickets for Game 4? There is going to be a Game 4 in Chicago.’
“My girls (Ann and Clare) came up from Louisiana and Cincinnati to watch us go to the game and then met us after the game. When they lost both games, our son (Dave) called from Atlanta and said, ‘Dad, stay home. You are not helping them.’”
The last time the Wimbiscus saw their son James before he was in a car accident in Minnesota 25 years ago was at Cubs opening day in 1994.
The judge performed a wedding at Wrigley in 2003 and was on an Alaskan cruise with Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Warren Spahn.
Plus, he’s seen legends such as Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Lou Brock, Hank Aaron, Yogi Bera, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount hit home runs, take the field and throw strikes.
“I’ve been at the right place at the right time,” Jim Wimbiscus said.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.