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Monday, January 6, 2003
Charley Lupica dies 53 years after famous stunt
CLEVELAND -- Charley Lupica, a Cleveland Indians fan who gained national attention by sitting on a flagpole platform for 117 days during the 1949 baseball season, died Dec. 24. He was 90.
Lupica, who stayed on his perch in an unsuccessful attempt to rally the Indians to a second straight American League pennant, died at the Lutheran Home in Westlake, Ohio, a few months after breaking both of his hips.
A grandson, Mario Izzo, said Lupica cherished memories of his stunt and frequently handed out business cards identifying him as the "1949 Cleveland Indians Flagpole Sitter.''
"He talked about it all the time,'' Izzo said. "He would never have traded the experience for anything.''
The Indians were in seventh place when Lupica ascended 60 feet in the air to the platform above his Cleveland deli. He vowed not to come down until the team was back on top of the standings or was eliminated from the pennant race.
Lupica missed the birth of a son during the vigil, which was tracked by news crews and photographed for Life magazine.
The Indians finished third that year. After the team was out of contention, club owner Bill Veeck sent a truck and transported the pole, with Lupica still on the platform, to Municipal Stadium. On Sept. 25, the last day of the season, a crowd of 34,000 fans cheered as Lupica left his perch.
After leaving the grocery business, Lupica worked as a security guard. He worked with writers William Ellis and Nancy Schneider on the 1997 book, "The Story of Charley Lupica, the Cleveland Indians Flagpole Sitter.''
He is survived by two daughters, two sons, 20 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and two sisters. A funeral service was held Dec. 28 at St. Brendan Catholic Church in North Olmsted.
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