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 Remembering George Kell

The sad news of passing of Hall of Famer George Kell at his home in Swifton, Arkansas in his sleep on March 24, 2009 has just come out. The former star third baseman Kell grew up in Swifton and lived in the same house from his birth to the time it burned down in 2001. It was rebuilt on the same land.

I had the good fortune to interview this true southern gentlemen and  twice over the past few years - for my REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (2009) and for my REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK to be published in 2011.  Both times he was forthcoming,  anecdotal, interesting.

For the Yankee Stadium book he offered unique insights about what it was like to come in and perform  there as an opposing  player. The multi-time All Star played for the Red Sox from 1952 to  1954 and really enjoyed the fans and the environment at Fenway Park.

Here, in draft form, is just some of the oral history subject matter he gave me:    (FOR MORE  - - BUY REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK in 2010)

GEORGE KELL:  Fenway Park was sort of made for me.  I didn't have a lot of  power.  I'm a right-handed hitter and I could reach that left-field fence  occasionally.  And I just loved that ballpark.  The people were great.  The stands were full every day.  It was just baseball, baseball.  I couldn't wait to get out there.

I was traded from Detroit to Boston on June 3, 1952: h Hoot Evers, Johnny  Lipon, and Dizzy Trout for Bill Wight, Walt Dropo, Fred Hatfield, Johnny Pesky, and Don Lenhardt.  and the first day there I hit a home run over the left-field fence and I hit a double off of the left-field fence and I thought "my goodness,  what could I do here?  I'm liable to hit a lot of home runs and a lot of doubles."  But it wasn't that way, it wasn't that easy. They pitch you a little different.  They're not going to keep bringing the ball inside to where you can  pull it all the time. 

I began my  career in 1943 with Philadelphia  had played in Fenway as an opposing player for quite a few seasons coming in with the Athletic uniform and then the Tiger uniform. 

 There was something about Boston and it still is today.  I was traded for an idol:  Pesky.  But I did get wonderful reception.    I broadcasted for the Tigers for 37 years.  I came into Fenway all through the summers at various times.  There is something about Fenway Park that is a little bit different.  I felt like I would never go into a slump at Fenway Park.  I felt like I could always reach that wall out there one time everyday, but I didn't.  But it felt that way.  And I felt like I could hit .300 there and I did the years I was  there.   

Everybody was trying to pull the ball.  And I don't think I ever had so many hot shots hit right at me by people just like myself who were trying to reach the left-field wall.  Day after day after day that I was very busy at third base.  That didn't bother me.  But I had to be more alert.  There was not a lot of bunting, everybody was trying to reach the left-field fence and could.  It was not an easy place to play third base.
Ted Williams came back from the Korean War and played at the end of my career there.    Yes, I got to be close friends with Ted Williams.  Maybe for one specific reason.  When I won the batting title on the last day of the season in 1949, I won it because Ted went hitless that last day and I had a couple of  hits.  And I won it by two thousandths of point and boy I tell you to me it was tremendous for me but  a tremendous loss for him because he was he was the all-time great hitter. And the next year at Fenway a man asked me if I would pose for a picture with Ted Williams. I left the dugout and I started over there.

Ted said, "No, no, no, we are going to make it in front of your dugout because you won the batting title from me fair and square." 

And I thought, "what a wonderful man he is."  We remained good friends from then on.    . . .


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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.


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