George Clyde Kell (1922 - 2009)

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About George Clyde Kell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kell

George Clyde Kell (August 23, 1922 – March 24, 2009) was an American baseball third baseman who played for the Philadelphia Athletics (1943–46), Detroit Tigers (1947–52), Boston Red Sox (1952–54), Chicago White Sox (1954–56), and Baltimore Orioles (1956–57) in the American League, who went on to become a baseball broadcaster for 40 years.

Playing career

In college, Kell played for Arkansas State University, where the baseball facility, Tomlinson Stadium–Kell Field, is named after him.

A solid right-handed hitter and a sure-handed fielder, Kell was a 10-time All-Star, batted over .300 nine times and topped the league's third basemen in assists and total chances four times and in fielding percentage seven times. He won his only batting title in 1949 (.343), denying Ted Williams his third Triple Crown; until the final week of the season, Williams had led the batting race. On October 2, 1949, Kell went 2-for-3 while Williams was hitless in two official at bats. Kell's final mark was .3429, Williams's .3427. One year later, Kell batted .340, leading the league with 218 hits and 56 doubles, but lost the batting title to Williams' teammate, Red Sox second baseman Billy Goodman.

In his career, Kell batted .306, with 78 home runs and 870 runs batted in, 881 runs scored, 2054 hits, 385 doubles, 50 triples, 51 stolen bases, a ..414 slugging average, and 621 walks for a .367 on base percentage.

Kell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1983. A memorable quote from his induction speech at the Hall of Fame goes as follows, "I have always said that George Kell has taken more from this great game of baseball than he can ever give back. And now I know, I am deeper in debt than ever before."

Broadcasting career

Following his retirement as a player, Kell worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Orioles (1957), CBS television (1958), NBC radio (1962), and the Tigers (1959–1963, 1965–1996). Kell also called the 1959 National League tie-breaker series between the Milwaukee Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers for ABC along with Bud Blattner and the 1962 National League tie-breaker series between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers for NBC television along with Bob Wolff.

From 1975 until his retirement from broadcasting, Kell was joined on Tiger telecasts by Al Kaline as color commentator. After the Tigers' World Series win in 1984, Kell remarked, "If we get a little pitching out of Wilcox, this team could do it again." The Tigers got very little pitching out of the aging Milt Wilcox after 1984 and did not return to the fall classic until 2006.

Broadcasting style

Kell had a relaxed, easygoing "country-gentleman" style of announcing. In contrast to his compatriot Ernie Harwell, who opened his radio broadcasts with "Hiya, Tiger fans!", Kell traditionally opened his broadcasts with "Good EVE-ning, everyone!" When paired with colorman Larry Osterman, the opening was often "Thank you Larry and good afternoon."

Kell was also known for particular colloquialisms in his style, such as always referring to a high pitch near the batter's eyes as being "up in his wheelhouse", or a hard-hit home run being "tommyhawked" into the stands. A particularly good catch was exemplified by "Speared by (Aurelio) Rodríguez! Whale of a play!"

His home run call was simple but delivered with rising pitch: "Long drive...way back...could be... and it is. Home run!" The game-ending out, whether it meant a Tiger win or loss, usually merited a decrescendo: "Fly ball to center field...this should be the ball game... it is." Kell also relayed stories of his Hall of Fame career in the same folksy style. A favorite story of his was about the incident when his jaw was broken by a line drive off the bat of Joe DiMaggio. "I got up, made the play at third, then passed out."

In 2009, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association gave Kell its highest individual honor, an honorary lifetime membership. The association was founded in 1948 by pioneer Tigers announcer Ty Tyson.

Personal life

Kell served ten years on the Arkansas State Highway Commission (1973–83) and owned a car dealership, George Kell Motors, in Newport.

Kell's brother, Everett "Skeeter" Kell, played the 1952 season for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Kell married his childhood sweetheart Charlene; they remained married for 50 years until her death from cancer in 1991. They had one daughter, Terrie Jane. And one son George Kell Jr.

Best-selling author Elmore Leonard in the 1990 anthology Cult Baseball Players wrote that Kell was his favorite player. When the novelist threw out the first pitch at a June 15, 1999 Tigers game, Leonard wore a No. 21 jersey that was presented to him by the Tigers in an homage to Kell.

Kell is survived by his second wife, Carolyn.

Death

Kell died at age 86 in his sleep in his hometown of Swifton, Arkansas on March 24, 2009.

Fox Sports Detroit (the Detroit Tigers' current local TV rights holder) honored Kell with re-airings of the special FSN Basement: All Star Edition 2005 featuring interviews with George Kell and Al Kaline, each recalling their memories of playing for the Tigers and working together in the television booth. It re-aired several times during the week after his death.

Highlights

10-time All-Star (1947–54, 1956–57)

8-consecutive .300 seasons (1946–53)

Led league in batting average (1949)

Holds record of the fewest strikeouts for a batting champion (13, 1949)

Twice led the league in hits and doubles (1950–51)

Hit for the cycle (June 2, 1950)

Top 10 in AL MVP vote (1947, 1949, 1950)

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George Kell's Timeline

1922
August 23, 1922
2009
March 24, 2009
Age 86