The Cubs’ regular second baseman for nine years, Beckert was a reliable contact hitter who hit second in the batting order for most of his career. He was the most difficult batter to strike out in the NL five times (in 1968 he whiffed only 20 times in 643 at-bats), and he walked only slightly more often, but nonetheless led the NL in runs scored with 98 in ’68. Although never considered a power hitter, he had 20 or more doubles in six seasons.
Beckert was a minor league shortstop, but switched to second base after Ken Hubbs died. He won the Cubs’ second-base job in 1965 and adjusted quickly to his new position, leading the NL in assists while finishing second in double plays and total chances per game. For his entire Cub career, he played alongside shortstop Don Kessinger (who often led off in front of Beckert), giving the Cubs an outstanding defensive keystone combo. Throughout Beckert’s career, he was overshadowed by two of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. When he first came up, Bill Mazeroski was regularly leading the league in most defensive categories; after Maz faded, Joe Morgan grabbed the second-base spotlight. Beckert was second in the NL in assists from 1966 to 1969, and in 1971 he won a Gold Glove. He received his nickname, Bruno (after the wrestler Bruno Sammartino), from teammate Paul Popovich in the minor leagues, because Beckert frequently knocked down other infielders in pursuit of pop-ups.
Although he hit only .239 as a rookie, Beckert quickly improved and went on to hit .280 or better the next six seasons, peaking at .342 in 1971. On June 3, 1971, he drove in Ken Holtzman with the only run of the game in Holtzman’s no-hitter against the Reds.
After his skills were eroded by knee and heel injuries over the next two seasons, Beckert was traded to the Padres for outfielder Jerry Morales. In San Diego, Beckert was a part-time infielder and pinch hitter limited again by ankle and finger injuries.