â€œHe’s a seven-day-a-week ballplayer.â€
â€” Red Rolfe
Detroit Tiger and baseball legend George Kell passed away today.
George Kell worked diligently at all facets of the game, relying on constant practice to become a solid hitter and a sure-handed fielder. He batted over .300 nine times and topped American League third basemen in fielding percentage seven times. Utilizing a strong and accurate throwing arm, Kell led the league in double plays six times, assists four times and in putouts twice. In 1949, Kell dramatically captured the American League batting title when he edged out Ted Williams by less than two ten-thousandths of a point, .34291 to .34276.
You can view a nice slideshow of Kell’s career [Philadelphia Athletics (1943-1946), Detroit Tigers (1947-52), Boston Red Sox (1952-54), Chicago White Sox (1954-56) and Baltimore Orioles (1956-57)] and watch a nice video biography of Kell at the Hall of Fame. For all of Kell’s prowess as a player, many Tiger fans remember him as an announcer. From Wikipedia’s George Kell entry:
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) Rodriguez! Whale of a play!” His home run call was simple but delivered with rising pitch: “Long drive…way back…could be…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 ballgame… 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.”
The Detroit Tigers have a tribute to George Kell that has some memories from broadcasting partner Al Kaline and other and Major League Baseball has a George Kell video with some nice footage.You will probably also enjoy this Free Press article from 2006.
We’ll leave you with a video from YouTube has some photos from Kell’s career and also a lot of what appear to be family photos, and good wishes to Kell’s family and friends.