I’m in a second baseman kind of mood . . . don’t ask . . . so here goes . . .
Glenn Beckert, 2nd baseman for the Chicago Cubs for nine straight seasons, from 1965 to 1973. Only old time great Billy Herman and the modern day “Mr. Cub” Ryne Sandberg played 2nd for more consecutive seasons.
A more than solid defensive player (one gold glove in 1968) and a knack for putting the ball in play, Beckert was a key ingredient to a Cubs infield that stayed together for five straight years (Santo at 3rd, Kessinger at SS and Banks at 1st) from 1965 through the heartbreak year 1969.
Beckerts’ success in a Cubs uniform actually had a tragic beginning with the off-season death of 1962 Rookie of the Year Ken Hubbs in February of 1964. The Cubs had lackluster performance from the 2nd baseman position for all of 1964 and acquired Beckert via the “first year draft” (as it was called back then) during the winter of 62-63, as a young prospect at shortstop.
A four time consecutive all-star (1969 to 1972) and a career batting average of .283 tells only one part of the story. Beckerts’ ability to “put the ball in play” was his trait. His career numbers boast of fewer strikeouts than walks. He led the league five times for fewest strikeouts per at bat and has a career stat of 21.4 at bats per K. That ranks him 86th all time (minimum of 3000 plate appearances) and ahead such players as Tony Gwynn, Bill Buckner and Joe DiMaggio (three pretty darn good hitters of all time).
Beckert is also remembered for this unique moment. He drove in the only run in a 1 – 0 win against the Cincinnati Reds on June 3, 1971; the day Ken Holtzman pitched his no hitter.
Featured here (at top of blog) is Beckerts 1966 Topps card # 232. His second year card (above to the right is his rookie card the 1965 Topps # 549 partnered with Roberto Pena and his face is completely hidden in the shadow of his cap). On his 1966 card he is posed in a bunt stance, signaling to us his need to put the bat on the ball. A look at his bat closer and it seems to be rather thin and small – almost something a little leaguer would use although Beckert was 6’1” and weighed 190 lbs, pretty good size back then for baseball.
A card I would be interested in trading for is his 1974 card # 241-A. Beckert is one of the handful of players who are depicted with Washington and “Nat’L Lea” on his card, as the San Diego Padres were supposedly moving to D.C. Beckert is in his Cubs uniform swinging away “putting the ball in play”.
Glenn Beckert, a long-time consistent player with both a solid glove and bat that played one position for the most remembered Cub teams of all time. I still hear Jack Brickhouse announcing that double play call of “Kessinger to Beckert to Banks”. Somethings just stick in your head . . .
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