Willie Kirkland

Though he possessed power, a strong arm, and defensive skill, Kirkland never fully capitalized on his talent. A starting outfielder for three years with both the Giants (1958-60) and the Indians (1961-63), the lefthanded slugger amassed 91 HR in 1959-62. In 1961 he hit three straight homers on July 9 off Chicago’s Cal McLish (all on two-strike pitches), then walked and sacrificed in two more plate appearances. Following the All-Star break, he homered in his first official at-bat against the Twins, tying the major league record with four consecutive home runs. That season Kirkland led the Indians with 27 HR and 95 RBI and tied for the AL lead in double plays by an outfielder. He had led NL outfielders in double plays in 1958. Kirkland later played in Japan, hitting .241 with 126 HR for Hanshin, 1968-73. Unlike many former ML players in Japan, Kirkland adjusted well, learned to speak Japanese, and married a Japanese woman.