Ken Keltner

Kenneth Frederick Keltner (October 31, 1916 – December 12, 1991) was an American professional baseball player. He played almost his entire Major League Baseball career as a third baseman with the Cleveland Indians, until his final season when he played 13 games for the Boston Red Sox. He batted and threw right-handed.[1] A seven-time All-Star, Keltner is notable for being one of the best fielding third basemen in the 1940s and for helping to end Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak on July 17, 1941.[2]

Ken Keltner
Ken Keltner 1949 Bowman
Keltner's 1949 Bowman Gum baseball card
Third baseman
Born: October 31, 1916
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died: December 12, 1991 (aged 75)
New Berlin, Wisconsin
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
October 2, 1937, for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
May 25, 1950, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.276
Home runs163
Runs batted in852
Career highlights and awards

Baseball career

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Keltner began his professional baseball career in 1936 playing for his hometown team, the Milwaukee Brewers, then a minor league team.[2] He made a rapid ascent through the minor leagues, and in 1938, the Cleveland Indians invited him to their spring training camp.[2] The twenty-one-year-old Keltner made the team and played in 149 games that season, posting a .276 batting average with 26 home runs and 113 runs batted in.[1]

On August 20, 1938, as part of a publicity stunt by the Come to Cleveland Committee, Indians' catchers Frankie Pytlak and Hank Helf successfully caught baseballs dropped by Keltner from Cleveland's 708-foot-tall (216 m) Terminal Tower.[3] The 708-foot (216 m) drop broke the 555-foot, 30-year-old record set by Washington Senator catcher Gabby Street at the Washington Monument.[2]

In 1939, Keltner improved his hitting statistics with a career-high .325 batting average along with 13 home runs and 97 runs batted in.[1] He also embellished his defensive reputation with a .974 fielding percentage, and leading American League third basemen with 40 double plays and 187 putouts, appearing in all 154 games.[2] Keltner earned his first All-Star berth in 1940.[4] In the 1941 All-Star Game, he spearheaded a ninth inning four-run rally as the American League fought back from a 5-3 deficit.[5] Keltner beat the throw to first base for an infield single to start the rally.[5] Three batters later, he scored on a groundout before Ted Williams followed with a two-out, game-ending, three-run home run.[5]

Two weeks later, in a game against the New York Yankees on July 17, 1941, Keltner became part of baseball history when he made two impressive, backhanded defensive plays against Joe DiMaggio, as the latter attempted to extend his 56-game hitting streak.[2][6] DiMaggio walked and grounded out in his other two plate appearances, as the record-setting hitting streak came to an end.[2] Keltner joined the United States Navy in 1945 and missed an entire season while serving in Hawaii.[2] He returned to play for the Indians in 1946, earning his sixth All-Star selection in the process.[7]

Keltner had a career-season in 1948, placing third in the American League home runs with 31 and posting career-highs with 119 runs batted in, 91 runs, and 89 walks, and placed fifth in the league with a .522 slugging average, helping Cleveland earn a first-ever one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox.[8] The Indians won the game 8-3 behind knuckleballer Gene Bearden, with the help of Keltner's single, double, and 3-run home run over the Green Monster in Fenway Park.[9][10] The Indians then went on to defeat the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series.[11]

Due to injuries, Keltner appeared in only 80 games in 1949.[2] A .232 average with eight homers and 30 runs batted in prompted the Indians to release him after the season, replacing him at third base with Al Rosen.[2] He played with the Red Sox in 1950, appearing in only eight games as a third baseman and one as a first baseman (his only major league fielding appearance anywhere other than 1,500 games played at third base).[2] Keltner concluded his major league career at only age 33. He played one more season in the minor leagues with the Sacramento Solons in 1951 before retiring as a player.[2]

Career statistics

In a thirteen-season major league career, Keltner played in 1,526 games, accumulating 1,570 hits in 5,683 at bats for a .276 career batting average along with 163 home runs and 852 runs batted in.[1] Keltner had 69 triples, 308 doubles, accumulated 39 stolen bases and scored 737 runs.[1] He led American League third basemen four times in assists, five times in double plays, twice in fielding percentage and twice in range factor, ending his career with a .965 fielding percentage.[1][2] At the time of Keltner's retirement, only Willie Kamm and Heinie Groh had higher career fielding percentages among retired major league third basemen.[12] Keltner made 7 All-Star teams in 13 seasons. When he left the Indians, he was in the Top 5 in many of their all-time hitting records.

Post-playing career

After his retirement as a player, Keltner served as a scout for the Indians and the Red Sox.[2] He was inducted into the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame in 1970.[13] Keltner was also inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame and was named to the 100 Greatest Cleveland Indians in 2001.[2][14] Keltner was the subject of a brief campaign for the Baseball Hall of Fame. While he was never a popular candidate, his candidacy gave rise to the Keltner List by Baseball historian Bill James - a list of questions designed to guide thinking on the Hall of Fame. James ranked Keltner 35th all-time among third baseman in his Historical Baseball Abstract.[15]

Keltner died in his home state of Wisconsin at age 75 of a heart attack.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ken Keltner Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Ken Keltner at the SABR Bio Project, by Jim Nitz, retrieved 20 July 2010
  3. ^ Anderson, Bruce (March 11, 1985). "When Baseballs Fell From On High, Henry Helf Rose To The Occasion". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  4. ^ 1940 All-Star Game at Baseball Reference
  5. ^ a b c 1941 All-Star Game at Baseball Reference
  6. ^ Hauck, Larry (July 18, 1941). "Two Ordinary Hurlers End DiMaggio's Streak". The Calgary Herald. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  7. ^ 1946 All-Star Game at Baseball Reference
  8. ^ 1948 American League Batting Leaders at Baseball Reference
  9. ^ "Bearden, Boudreau, Keltner Share Honors as Indians Win". The Milwaukee Journal. October 5, 1948. p. 8.
  10. ^ October 4, 1948 Indians-Red Sox box score at Baseball Reference
  11. ^ 1948 World Series at Baseball Reference
  12. ^ Career Leaders in Fielding Percentage for Third Basemen at Baseball Reference
  13. ^ Ken Keltner at the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame Archived 2011-02-15 at WebCite
  14. ^ 100 Greatest Indians at
  15. ^ James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 554. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.

External links

1937 Cleveland Indians season

The 1937 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the American League with a record of 83–71, 19 games behind the New York Yankees.

1938 Cleveland Indians season

The 1938 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 86–66, 13 games behind the New York Yankees.

1939 Cleveland Indians season

The 1939 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 86–66, 13 games behind the New York Yankees.

1940 Cleveland Indians season

The 1940 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American major league baseball. The team finished second in the American League with a record of 89–65, one game behind the Detroit Tigers. Had the Indians finished ahead of the Tigers, The Indians would have played their cross state National League rivals, the National League Champion Cincinnati Reds, in the World Series. The World Series would have been the only all Ohio World series. The season is infamous for ten Indian players confronting owner Alva Bradley and demanding the removal of manager Ossie Vitt, saying the man's behavior was harming the team. When the news broke, the public sided with Vitt and the Indians were dismissed as "crybabies." The movement has since been named the "Crybaby Mutiny."

1943 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1943 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 11th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 13, 1943, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the home of the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 5–3.

This was the first major league All-Star Game scheduled as a night game.

1946 Cleveland Indians season

In 1946, Bill Veeck finally became the owner of a major league team, the Cleveland Indians. He immediately put the team's games on radio, and set about to put his own indelible stamp on the franchise. Actor Bob Hope also acquired a minority share of the Indians.

1947 Cleveland Indians season

The 1947 Cleveland Indians season was the 47th in franchise history. On July 5, Larry Doby broke the American League color barrier. Doby was signed by the Indians by owner and team president Bill Veeck in July, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson appeared with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League. In his rookie season, Doby hit 5-for-32 in 29 games.

1948 Cleveland Indians season

The 1948 Cleveland Indians season was the 48th in franchise history. When the regular season resulted in a first place tie, the Indians won a one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox to advance to the World Series. Cleveland won the championship by defeating the Boston Braves 4 games to 2 for their first World Series win in 28 years. The Sporting News ranked the 1948 Indians the 9th-best team ever.

As of 2018, this would be the Cleveland Indians' most recent World Series championship. With the Chicago Cubs' 2016 World Series championship being their first since 1906, the Indians now own the longest active world championship drought in Major League Baseball and the second-longest of any of the big 4 american sports leagues. Only the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals franchise owns a longer active world championship drought of the big 4 american sports leagues, having not won a world championship in 1947.

This memorable season was the first to be broadcast on television in the Cleveland area on WEWS-TV.

1949 Cleveland Indians season

The 1949 Cleveland Indians season was the 49th in franchise history. The club entered the season as the defending World Champions. On March 5, 1949, Indians minority owner Bob Hope donned a Cleveland Indians uniform and posed with manager Lou Boudreau and vice president Hank Greenberg as the World Series champions opened spring training camp in Tucson, Arizona.

1950 Boston Red Sox season

The 1950 Boston Red Sox season was the 50th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 94 wins and 60 losses, four games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees. The team scored 1,027 runs, one of only six teams to score more than 1,000 runs in a season in the modern era (post-1900), and, along with the 1999 Cleveland Indians, are one of two teams to do so post-World War II. This was the last time that the Red Sox would win at least 90 games until their return to the World Series in 1967. The 1950 Red Sox compiled a .302 batting average, and are the last major league team to record a .300 team batting average.

Bob Rothel

Robert Burton Rothel (September 17, 1923 in Columbia Station, Ohio – March 21, 1984) was a professional baseball player. He appeared in four games for the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball during the 1945 season as a third baseman.

Ken Keltner, the Indians' regular third baseman, had entered the Navy in March 1945. Regular right fielder Roy Cullenbine started the first three games of the season at third, a position he hadn't played in three years, but was moved back to right field when the team called up the 21-year-old Rothel from the Wilkes-Barre Barons. Rothel, in just his second season as a professional, started four games, but got just two hits in ten at bats, although he did walk three times. On the day of Rothel's last start, Cullenbine was traded to the Detroit Tigers in return for second baseman Dutch Meyer and, more pertinently, third baseman Don Ross. Rothel was returned to Wilkes-Barre. He played just one more season in the minor leagues before his career ended.

Rothel died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Huron, Ohio in 1984.

Ernie Stewart (umpire)

Ernest Draper "Ernie" Stewart (July 28, 1909 – November 15, 2001) was a professional baseball umpire who worked in the American League from 1941 to 1945. Stewart umpired 687 regular season Major League Baseball (MLB) games in his 5-year career. He also umpired in the 1942 All-Star Game.On July 17, 1941, Stewart was umpiring at third base when Ken Keltner made two sharp defensive plays to help end Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

Frankie Pytlak

Frank Anthony Pytlak (July 30, 1908 – May 8, 1977) born in Buffalo, New York was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Cleveland Indians (1932–40) and Boston Red Sox (1941 and 1945–46). He was known as a line drive hitter and an excellent defensive catcher.

Hank Helf

Henry Hartz Helf (August 26, 1913 – October 27, 1984) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians in 1938 and 1940 and the St. Louis Browns in 1946. From 1944 to 1945, Helf served in the military during World War II.On August 20, 1938, as part of a publicity stunt by the Come to Cleveland Committee, Helf, along with Indians' catcher, Frankie Pytlak, caught baseballs dropped from Cleveland's 708-foot-tall (216 m) Terminal Tower by Indians' third baseman Ken Keltner. The 708-foot (216 m) drop broke the 555-foot, 30-year-old record set by Washington Senator catcher Gabby Street at the Washington Monument. The baseballs were estimated to have been traveling at 138 miles per hour when caught.

Keltner list

The Keltner list is a systematic but non-numerical method for considering whether a baseball player is deserving of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Developed by baseball statistician Bill James, it makes use of an inventory of questions (mostly yes-or-no format) regarding the merit of players relative to their peers. Enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is the highest honor in baseball, with only 236 players having been inducted as of 2012. Election to the Hall is also permanent. However, selection for the Hall is by election; no "cut-offs" or objective criteria exist (other than rules about how players become eligible for election). It can therefore be difficult for voters and fans alike to determine which former players are deserving of the honor.

The Keltner list comprises 15 questions designed to aid in the thought process. Each question is designed to be relatively easy to answer.


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