Easily the best player to emerge during the WWII player shortage, Kell remained the AL’s premier third baseman long after the war had ended, and eventually earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.
After two seasons as the Athletics’ third baseman, Kell was traded to Detroit for Barney McCosky in May 1946 and became a perennial All-Star. He finished the 1946 season at .322, his first of eight consecutive .300 seasons. He missed 57 games in 1948 due to injuries. He first suffered a broken wrist when hit by a Vic Raschi pitch, and then several weeks later a Joe DiMaggio line drive fractured his jaw.
In 1949, Kell won his only batting title, and in the process denied Ted Williams his third triple crown. Williams had led the batting race until the final week of the season, but Kell came back from an injury to have a hot streak. When Williams went hitless in the season finale, Kell snatched the title, .3429 to .3428. Kell hit .340 the following year, leading the AL with 218 hits and 56 doubles, but lost the batting title to Boston’s Billy Goodman. After leading the league in hits and doubles once again in 1951, Kell was sent to Boston in June 1952 as part of a nine-man deal that included Dizzy Trout, Hoot Evers, Walt Dropo, and Johnny Pesky. His brother, Skeeter, played for the Athletics that season.
George Kell was as gifted in the field as he was at the plate, leading AL third baseman seven times in fielding and four times each in assists and total chances/game. After concluding his career as Baltimore’s third baseman, he was succeeded there by Brooks Robinson. Kell became a Tigers play-by-play man and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1983.