Remembering George Kell
The sad news of passing of Hall of Famer George
Kell at his home in Swifton, Arkansas in his sleep on March 24, 2009
has just come out. The former star third baseman Kell grew up in
Swifton and lived in the same house from his birth to the time it
burned down in 2001. It was rebuilt on the same land.
I had the good fortune to interview this true
southern gentlemen and twice over the past few years - for my
REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (2009) and for my REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK
to be published in 2011. Both times he was forthcoming,
For the Yankee Stadium book he offered unique
insights about what it was like to come in and perform there as an
opposing player. The multi-time All Star played for the Red Sox
from 1952 to 1954 and really enjoyed the fans and the environment
at Fenway Park.
Here, in draft form, is just some of the oral
history subject matter he gave me: (FOR MORE - - BUY REMEMBERING
FENWAY PARK in 2010)
GEORGE KELL: Fenway Park was sort of made for me. I didn't have a
lot of power. I'm a right-handed hitter and I could reach that
left-field fence occasionally. And I just loved that ballpark.
The people were great. The stands were full every day. It was just
baseball, baseball. I couldn't wait to get out there.
I was traded from Detroit to Boston on June 3, 1952:
h Hoot Evers, Johnny Lipon, and Dizzy Trout for Bill Wight, Walt
Dropo, Fred Hatfield, Johnny Pesky, and Don Lenhardt. and the first
day there I hit a home run over the left-field fence and I hit a
double off of the left-field fence and I thought "my goodness, what
could I do here? I'm liable to hit a lot of home runs and a lot
of doubles." But it wasn't that way, it wasn't that easy. They
pitch you a little different. They're not going to keep bringing
the ball inside to where you can pull it all the time.
I began my career in 1943 with Philadelphia had played in Fenway
as an opposing player for quite a few seasons coming in with the
Athletic uniform and then the Tiger uniform.
There was something about Boston and it still is today. I was
traded for an idol: Pesky. But I did get wonderful reception. I
broadcasted for the Tigers for 37 years. I came into Fenway all
through the summers at various times. There is something about
Fenway Park that is a little bit different. I felt like I would
never go into a slump at Fenway Park. I felt like I could always
reach that wall out there one time everyday, but I didn't. But it
felt that way. And I felt like I could hit .300 there and I did the
years I was there.
Everybody was trying to pull the ball. And I don't think I ever had
so many hot shots hit right at me by people just like myself who
were trying to reach the left-field wall. Day after day after day
that I was very busy at third base. That didn't bother me. But I
had to be more alert. There was not a lot of bunting, everybody was
trying to reach the left-field fence and could. It was not an easy
place to play third base.
Ted Williams came back from the Korean War and played at the end of
my career there. Yes, I got to be close friends with Ted
Williams. Maybe for one specific reason. When I won the batting
title on the last day of the season in 1949, I won it because Ted
went hitless that last day and I had a couple of hits. And I won
it by two thousandths of point and boy I tell you to me it was
tremendous for me but a tremendous loss for him because he was he
was the all-time great hitter. And the next year at Fenway a man
asked me if I would pose for a picture with Ted Williams. I left the
dugout and I started over there.
Ted said, "No, no, no, we are going to make it in front of your
dugout because you won the batting title from me fair and square."
And I thought, "what a wonderful man he is." We remained good
friends from then on. . . .
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
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