Tony Kubek

Kubek was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1957, hitting .297 and showing amazing versatility as he spent substantial time in the outfield, at shortstop, and at third base, with brief early stints at second base and first base as well. He displaced Gil McDougald and became the Yankees’ regular shortstop in 1958. For eight seasons he and second baseman Bobby Richardson formed one of baseball’s best double-play combinations. In 1961, Kubek cracked 38 doubles (a Yankees record for shortstops), and in his first at-bat after returning from the army late in 1962, he delivered a three-run home run. Kubek appeared in six WS with the Yankees. Playing in his hometown of Milwaukee, he hit a pair of homers in Game Three of the 1957 Series against the Braves. And in Game Seven of the 1960 WS he was victimized by one of the most famous bad hops in history. An apparently tailor-made double-play ball skipped up and hit Kubek in the throat, prolonging a five-run eighth-inning Pittsburgh rally that set the stage for Bill Mazeroski‘s Series-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth. A dangerous neck and back condition forced Kubek to retire at the age of twenty-nine, but he quickly became one of television’s most successful baseball announcers. Kubek remained extremely friendly, popular, and respected long after his playing days ended.