Icons of the Ivy: Don Kessinger
Don Kessinger was a reminder that a slow start doesn’t define a career.
In his extended run in the big leagues in 1965, Kessinger struggled to a .205 batting and led NL shortstops in errors that season. Midway through the 1966 season, Kessinger converted to a switch-hitter and saw immediate payoffs. He hit .304 in the second half of the season and finished the year with 474 assists, most in the NL.
Kessinger was named to six All-Star games and won a pair of Gold Gloves in 1969 and 1970. Kessinger hit a career-best .274 twice in his career — in 1966 and in 1972. Kessinger played 12 seasons with the Cubs and played a franchise-record 1,618 games at shortstop.
Kessinger’s 1969 All-Star selection was special — he and Ron Santo were starters for the NL team, but the entire Cubs infield — first baseman Ernie Banks and second baseman Glenn Beckert were named to the team.
“The rangy and sure-handed infielder led the league in assists and double plays four times and in putouts three times,” Cubs historian Ed Hartig said.
He went 54 games without committing an error, setting a major league single-season record for shortstops. Kessinger finished with a .976 fielding percentage that season.
Kessinger finished with 1,619 hits, 769 runs scored and a .255 batting average as a Cub. He had a.964 fielding percentage with 2,920 putouts and turned 1,097 double plays.