Tuesday, January 4, 2022

This Cubs Duo Delivered


TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Robert Artsmire of Marin, CA, who correctly replied that Deron Johnson led the NL with 10 Sac Fly RBI. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

Just a note to add; If you look at the top right hand corner of the side bar you will see a link to daily sports scores. We made an agreement with Baseball 24 in a mutual sharing situation. Hope its helpful to fans of several sports.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:  In between Ken Hubbs death and the arrival of Glenn Beckert in 1965, who was the Cubs most regular second baseman in 1964.?
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: 
Ten was the number of Sac Fly RBI Deron Johnson had when he led the league in 1965.

From 1965 to 1973 the Chicago Cubs were blessed with one of longest running double play combinations of the modern era. While the duo of Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley were setting records in Pittsburgh in the 1960s, the pair of Don Kessinger at short and Glenn Beckert at second were turning them over game after game. They also put up numbers at the plate to drive the Cubbies for years.

                                    (Beckert involved in Cubs triple play)


                                     (Kessinger interview)

While Beckert debuted in 1965, Kessinger came up a year earlier for a cup of coffee. Neither one of them hit their first year together for much of an average, but it was obvious the Cubs were planning their infield around this pair. With Ron Santo at third and Ernie Banks at first, they were just about the most solid and consistent infield in the big leagues.

Kessinger's .201 and Beckert's .239 that 1965 season were not spectacular but the following seasons were different. Starting in 1966 the light hitting Kessinger would average about .250 while his counterpart would be up around .285, occasionally crossing the .290 mark. It was in the field however where they did the most damage.

Beckert twice would cross the 100 mark in double plays turned from 1966-1968 with two other seasons registering 89 each. Kessinger would reach 101 and 97 with a few other seasons right around 70. They were not anywhere near perfect. Kessinger's errors were pretty consistent with one season (1966) reaching 35. Between them they averaged about 50 errors per season. Today that would drive their market value down to someplace around "we're moving you to left field" to give some kid a chance. This was the 1960's however, and with Banks and Santo anchoring the corners, the Kessinger-Beckert duo stuck around a long time.

Beckert won a Gold Glove and appeared in four All-star Games. Kessinger appeared in six All-star games and won two Gold Glove Awards. He was also named the recipient of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. In 1968 and 1969 Kessinger led the NL in double plays at Short, while in 1968 Beckert was second in the category to Cookie Rojas of the Phillies. 

Between them they played the most games at their positions during the time period, than most others, and together it seemed like they were one name; Kessinger/Beckert. In 1968 Beckert led the NL in runs scored. In 1969 Kessinger led the league in games played at Short, double plays, put-outs, assists, errors and fielding percentage! Now that is an accomplishment.

Kessinger would retire after 16 seasons, spending his last few years with the Cardinals and the White Sox, while Beckert would call it a career after 11 seasons. The final two were with the Padres. While neither will make the Hall of Fame, there is no denying their impact on the late 1960s Chicago Cubs, helping the club to a second place finish and a pair of third place finishes from 1967-1969.

TRIVIA CONTEST; After reading this column you can enter the weekly trivia contest for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card. Enter via the following email. Send 1) your answer to the trivia question at the top of the column, 2) your name, address and email so where we know where to send the card if you win 3) any comment you have on the column. One winner will be selected at random each week based on correct answers with the odds being based on the number of correct entries.  Please cut and paste or enter the following email into your email system.
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