Baseball: Hall of Famer George Kell dies
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ó George Kell, the Hall of Fame third baseman who edged Ted Williams for the 1949 American League batting title and became a Detroit Tigers broadcaster for nearly 40 years, died Tuesday. He was 86.
Jackson’s Funeral Home in Newport confirmed the death but did not give a cause. The Hall of Fame said he died in his sleep at his home in Swifton. Kell was severely injured in a car crash in 2004 but was able to walk with a cane about six months later.
Kell outlasted Williams for the 1949 batting crown, hitting .34291 while the Boston Red Sox great finished at .34276. Kell played 15 seasons, hitting more than .300 nine times and compiling a career average of .306. He was a 10-time All-Star.
“I grew up idolizing Stan Musial and George Kell,” said Brooks Robinson, another Hall of Fame third baseman from Arkansas. “I played a lot of baseball in Swifton and Newport, where George is from. … He was a hero to me on and off the field.”
Kell played from 1943-1957 with the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles. He topped .300 each year from 1946-53.
After he retired, Kell broadcast Tigers games from 1959 to 1996 ó every year except 1964. Longtime Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell and Kell became close friends while working together in TV and radio.
“He had a very laid-back style,” Harwell told WWJ-AM in Detroit on Tuesday. “He was easygoing and an expert on the game. He brought the field to the booth because he played and played well. He had a conversational style that people took to.”
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