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George Kell
George Kell.png
Third baseman
Born: (1922-08-23)August 23, 1922
Swifton, Arkansas
Died: March 24, 2009(2009-03-24) (aged 86)
Swifton, Arkansas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 28, 1943, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 14, 1957, for the Baltimore Orioles
MLB statistics
Batting average .306
Hits 2,054
Home runs 78
Runs batted in 870
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted 1983
Election Method Veteran's Committee

George Clyde Kell (August 23, 1922 – March 24, 2009) was an American Major League Baseball third baseman who played fifteen seasons for the Philadelphia Athletics (1943–46), Detroit Tigers (1947–52), Boston Red Sox (1952–54), Chicago White Sox (1954–56), and Baltimore Orioles (1956–57). Kell went on to become a Detroit Tigers broadcaster for thirty-seven years. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.[1]

Kell was an All-Star for ten seasons. In 1949, he won the American League (AL) batting title hitting .343 with 59 runs batted in (RBI). In 1950, he hit .340 with 101 RBI and led the AL in hits and doubles. In 1951, he hit .319 with 59 RBI and led the AL in hits, singles, and doubles. He hit .300 or more for nine seasons. Kell also was hard to strike out; he struck out only 287 times in 6,702 at-bats during his career.

Baseball career[edit]

George Kell was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Detroit Tigers in 2000.

In college, Kell played for Arkansas State University, where the baseball facility, Tomlinson Stadium–Kell Field, is named after him.[2]

A solid right-handed hitter and a sure-handed fielder, Kell was a 10-time All-Star, batted over .300 nine times and topped the league's third basemen in assists and total chances four times and in fielding percentage seven times. He won his only batting title in 1949 (.343), denying Ted Williams his third Triple Crown; until the final week of the season, Williams had led the batting race. On October 2, 1949, Kell went 2-for-3 while Williams was hitless in two official at bats.[3] Kell's final mark was .3429, Williams's .3427. One year later, Kell batted .340, leading the league with 218 hits and 56 doubles, but lost the batting title to Williams' teammate, Red Sox second baseman Billy Goodman.

Kell finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles (1956–57) where he helped another Arkansan and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson take over the third base position for the team. In his final season he batted .297 in 345 at bats.

In his career, Kell batted .306, with 78 home runs and 870 runs batted in, 881 runs scored, 2054 hits, 385 doubles, 50 triples, 51 stolen bases, a .414 slugging average, and 621 walks for a .367 on-base percentage.

Kell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1983. A memorable quote from his induction speech at the Hall of Fame goes as follows, "I have always said that George Kell has taken more from this great game of baseball than he can ever give back. And now I know, I am deeper in debt than ever before."[3]


Following his retirement as a player, Kell worked as a play-by-play announcer for CBS television (1958) and the Tigers (1959–1963, 1965–1996). Kell also helped call the 1959 National League tie-breaker series[4][5][6] for ABC television along with Bob DeLaney, the 1962 National League tie-breaker series for NBC television along with Bob Wolff,[7] the 1962 World Series for NBC Radio along with Joe Garagiola, and Games 3-5 of the 1968 World Series (for which the Tigers were the home team) for NBC television along with Curt Gowdy.

Kell initially called Tigers games on both radio and television, splitting the play-by-play with Van Patrick in his first season and then with Ernie Harwell. Following the 1963 season he briefly retired from broadcasting, citing a desire to spend more time at his Arkansas home; after a one-year absence, he was persuaded to return in 1965 working the (then-infrequent) TV games exclusively while Harwell did radio. Kell's television partners included Ray Lane, Larry Osterman, and (beginning in 1975) Al Kaline as color commentator, the latter pairing lasting for the remainder of Kell's broadcast career.

Broadcasting style[edit]

Kell during his time with the Red Sox.

Kell had a relaxed, easygoing "country-gentleman" style of announcing. In contrast to Harwell, who opened his radio broadcasts with "Hiya, Tiger fans!", Kell traditionally opened his broadcasts with "Good afternoon, everyone!" or "Good EVE-ning, everyone!" When paired with Larry Osterman on Tigers telecasts in the late 1960s and early '70s, the opening was often "Thank you, Larry, and good afternoon."

Kell was also known for particular colloquialisms in his style, such as always referring to a high pitch near the batter's eyes as being "up in his wheelhouse", or a hard-hit home run being "tommyhawked" into the stands. A particularly good catch was exemplified by "Speared by (Aurelio) Rodríguez! Whale of a play!"

His home run call was simple but delivered with rising pitch: "And a long drive...way back...could be... and it is. Whoa, he hit it a mile!" The game-ending out, whether it meant a Tiger win or loss, usually merited a decrescendo: "Fly ball to center field...this should be the ball game... it is." Kell also relayed stories of his Hall of Fame career in the same folksy style. A favorite story of his was about the incident when his jaw was broken by a line drive off the bat of Joe DiMaggio. "I got up, made the play at third, then passed out."

In 2009, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association gave Kell its highest individual honor, an honorary lifetime membership. The association was founded in 1948 by pioneer Tigers announcer Ty Tyson.

Personal life[edit]

Kell served ten years on the Arkansas State Highway Commission (1973–83) and owned a car dealership, George Kell Motors, in Newport.

Kell's brother, Everett "Skeeter" Kell, played the 1952 season for the Philadelphia Athletics.[8]

Kell married his childhood sweetheart Charlene; they remained married for 50 years until her death from cancer in 1991. They had one daughter, Terrie Jane, and one son, George Kell Jr.

Best-selling author Elmore Leonard in the 1990 anthology Cult Baseball Players wrote that Kell was his favorite player. When the novelist threw out the first pitch at a June 15, 1999 Tigers game, Leonard wore a No. 21 jersey that was presented to him by the Tigers in an homage to Kell.

Kell is survived by his second wife, Carolyn.


Kell died at age 86 in his sleep in his hometown of Swifton, Arkansas on March 24, 2009.[3][9][10]

Fox Sports Detroit (the Detroit Tigers' current local TV rights holder) honored Kell with re-airings of the special FSN Basement: All Star Edition 2005 featuring interviews with George Kell and Al Kaline, each recalling their memories of playing for the Tigers and working together in the television booth. It re-aired several times during the week after his death.[11]

Post Office naming[edit]

Kell would have yet one more honor bestowed upon him. On June 12, 2009, John Putt, III, Postmaster of Swifton, Arkansas sent a formal request to Rep Marion Berry (AR-1), to have the town's Post Office named for George Kell. H.R. 3634 was introduced to the 111th Congress (2009–2010) on September 23, 2009 and on June 9, 2010 it was signed by President Obama and became Public Law 111-180. A Dedication Ceremony was held at the Swifton Post Office on August 26, 2010 that included a special cancellation for the day’s event.[citation needed]


  • 10-time All-Star (1947–54, 1956–57)
  • 8-consecutive .300 seasons (1946–53)
  • Led league in batting average (1949)
  • Holds record of the fewest strikeouts for a batting champion (13, 1949)
  • Twice led the league in hits and doubles (1950–51)
  • Hit for the cycle (June 2, 1950)
  • Top 10 in AL MVP vote (1947, 1949, 1950)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Baseball Hall of Fame, George Kell [1] Retrieved April 28, 2015
  2. ^ Tomlinson Stadium—Kell Field at admin.xosn.com, URL accessed June 25, 2010. Archived 06-25-10
  3. ^ a b c Lowe, John (March 24, 2009). "George Kell, Tiger great and longtime broadcaster, dies at 86". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-03-24. [dead link]
  4. ^ Reichler, Joe (September 29, 1959). "Dodgers Confident of National Flag". Times Daily. Associated Press. p. 5. 
  5. ^ Lowry, Cynthia (September 29, 1959). "Crosby Sings Plenty". Kentucky New Era. Associated Press. p. 18. 
  6. ^ United Press International (September 30, 1959). "Vet, Rookie Combine for LA Playoff Win". The Modesto Bee. p. C10. 
  7. ^ "Torre & Cubs?". The Hour. June 13, 1986. p. 19. 
  8. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/k/kellsk01.shtml
  9. ^ "Hall of Fame baseball player George Kell passes away". KAIT. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  10. ^ Ginsburg, Steve; Justin Palmer (25 March 2009). "Hall of Fame third baseman Kell dies". Reuters. Retrieved 25 March 2009. 
  11. ^ Tigers Fans, FOX Sports Detroit Mourn the Passing of George Kell

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kell — Please support Wikipedia.
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307 news items

Sat, 14 Nov 2015 23:52:30 -0800

Detroit once was Motor City, Motown, George Kell and Al Kaline. Then it became the starkest American symbol of urban decay. I've heard a couple of responses to Kurrus that amount to tragic misunderstandings. One of those is that Kurrus essentially ...

Radio Ink

Radio Ink
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 21:07:30 -0700

Jim Brandstatter: One of my fondest memories of hearing radio play-by-play was as a kid, we used to sit on our back porch in the summer listening to Tiger games with Ernie Harwell and George Kell. We used to keep score in our scorebooks. I loved it ...

UN News Centre

UN News Centre
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:27:53 -0700

Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. Photo: UN Global Compact/Paulo Filgueiras. 2066. 23 June 2015 – What started out as a speech by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the World Economic Forum in the late 1990s is today the ...

Log Cabin Democrat

Log Cabin Democrat
Sat, 30 May 2015 00:07:30 -0700

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Alma Kell; and two brothers, George Kell and Frank Kell. Mr. Kell is survived by his wife of 67 years, Sue Kell; sons, Roger Kell and wife, Debbie of Pine Bluff, Ark. and Jerry Kell and wife Kimmie, of ...

Deadspin (blog)

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 09:18:53 -0700

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- George Kell, the Hall of Fame third baseman who edged Ted Williams for the 1949 American League batting title and became a Tigers broadcaster for nearly 40 years, died Tuesday. He was 86. Jackson's Funeral Home in Newport ...


Thu, 01 Sep 2011 09:30:00 -0700

DETROIT -- Hall of Famer George Kell and longtime radio analyst Jim Price are in contention to appear on the ballot for the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting. Kell and Price are among the 75 names eligible for fan voting ...
Log Cabin Democrat
Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:30:00 -0700

Christopher Shenep, a cousin of the late George Kell, the sportscaster honoree who spent 33 year broadcasting Detroit Tiger baseball games, told of the baseball Hall of Famer coming home as often as he could to teach Sunday School in Swifton. “He lived ...
The Oakland Press
Sat, 03 Oct 2015 18:39:35 -0700

Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (24) reacts after striking out as Texas Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez (38) walks to the Rangers' dugout in the first inning of a baseball game Monday Sept. 28, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. RON JENKINS — The Associated ...

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