The Comiskeys took a lot of heat for trading away colorful Zeke Bonura in 1938, but the deal brought the AL’s best-fielding first baseman to the White Sox for the worst. Whatever Joe Kuhel lacked in flamboyance, he made up for with his steady, reliable defense. In time, Chicago fans accepted him.
Kuhel moved into the Senators’ lineup in 1931. In the pennant year of 1933, he enjoyed his finest season, hitting .322 and leading AL first basemen in putouts. He never batted that high with Chicago, but he did hit 27 HR in 1940 (by far his most) and continued to excel with the glove. In a July 20, 1941 doubleheader against the Athletics, he recorded 17 putouts in the first game, and 23 in the second, eclipsing a 35-year-old record held by Hal Chase. He was a fearless player, who once took on Eldon Auker and the entire Browns team after being skulled by a high hard one. Kuhel managed the Senators to seventh- and eighth-place finishes in 1948 and 1949.