Position: Third baseman
Teams: Philadelphia Athletics, 1943-1946; Detroit Tigers, 1946-1952; Boston Red Sox, 1952-1954; Chicago White Sox, 1954-1956; Baltimore Orioles,1956-1957
George Kell led the American League
with 191 base hits in 1951.
George Clyde Kell (born in 1922 in Swifton, Arkansas) was signed by the Brooklyn organization in 1940 and was assigned to Newport of the Northeast Arkansas League. Despite leading that league in base hits in 1941, he was dropped at the end of the season. Recently married, George was ready to take a construction job when his bride urged him to give the game another try. He hooked on with Lancaster of the Inter-State League, and announced his readiness for the bigs by leading the league in runs, hits, and doubles in 1943. His .396 batting average was tops in organized baseball that year.
Connie Mack brought George to Philadelphia in 1943, and kept him for the 1944 and ’45 seasons. Both of those seasons were solid, but Mack wasn’t sure if Kell would be able to compete with the rest of the league when the stars and regulars returned from World War II. Needing a center fielder, Mack traded Kell to Detroit for Barney McCosky in 1946.
Kell played up to the new level in the major leagues, beginning a string of eight straight .300 seasons in 1946. While not a power hitter, he was able to smack line drives into the gaps. His 56 two-baggers in 1950 comprise one of history’s highest totals and beat the league runner-up by 19. Kell won a batting title in 1949, edging Ted Williams by two-tenths of a point, .3429 to .3427.
In 1950, he led the league in base hits, smacking 218. He was one of the few players in modern baseball history to drive in more than 100 runs without hitting 10 homers in that season. He also led the AL with 191 base hits in 1951.
Kell was renowned for his glove as well, retiring with a .969 fielding average -- a record that stood for 20 years. He was a Gold Glove winner and a regular All-Star, but though he played for five teams in his 15-year career, he never saw postseason play. He was one of the very best third basemen of his era, and paved the way for even better hot-corner men. After his retirement, Kell entered the Tiger broadcasting booth. He was joined by Al Kaline in 1976. When Kell was inducted into the Hall in 1983, Kell and Kaline were the first Hall of Famers to team up to broadcast baseball.
Here are George Kell's major league totals:
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