Here’s the pitch, a two hopper towards the hole between short and third, Kessinger glides to his right, gloves the ball, leaps and throws to first – umpire yells “out”.
That was a common scenario for the Cubs with the dependable and durable Don Kessinger playing shortstop for eleven consecutive years (from 1965 to 1975), averaging more than 150 games for ten straight years.
Kessinger earned two gold gloves and appeared in six all star games . His career batting average of .252 and 14 career homeruns does not tell the true value of Kessinger, whose offensive numbers were adequate for the era he played in, his defensive skills and gamesmanship made him one of the most popular Cubs of all time.
In 1969 Kessinger actually set a record (now since broken) of 54 errorless games to start the year. June 17th, 1971 might be considered one of his best offensive productive days, going 6 for 6 in an extra inning win (my research says he is the last Cub to have six hits in a game). My research also dug up this; in 1973 Kessinger was walked intentionally 18 times, yet did not hit a home run all year. This probably remains the record for most intentional walks by someone who did not hit a homerun.
His Rookie Card from 1996 shows Kessinger in the typical “ready” stance, just waiting for that ground ball that will challenge him to the right.
Kessinger will always be remembered for being that tall (6’1”), long armed, good hands and solid range defensive gem for the Cubs during those years of so much promise. Similar to Ron Santo, Kessingers last playing years were spent on the southside of Chicago with the White Sox (1977-1979).
The most durable and dependable shortstops the Cubs have ever had.
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