Friday, November 30, 2007

Ken Brett

You're on top of the world. In 1967, you just became the youngest pitcher in World Series history and gave up no hits in both your appearances. Then after a stint in the Army Reserves, you come back and develop arm trouble. You have flashes of brilliance, but are ultimately eclipsed by one of your three younger baseball playing brothers. This was Ken Brett's life.

Ken played with 10 teams in 14 years. He played with the White Sox in parts of 1976 and 1977. Twice, he took a no-hitter into the ninth. The first was on May 27, 1974 with the Pirates. He settled for a 2 hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader.

The second was almost two years later to the date on May 26, 1976 with the Chicago White Sox. With two outs in the ninth of a scoreless game, Jorge Orta left a slow roller down the third baseline untouched. It was scored a hit rather than an error and Ken was screwed out of another no hitter. The Sox won that game against the Angels 1-0 in the 11th. Ken pitched 10 innings.

Even though his brother George got more press, Ken was no slouch at hitting. Some say he was the best hitting pitcher of his era. Ken did hit .310 in 1974 for the Pirates. This was the same year he was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game. The year before, with the Phillies, he hit home runs in 4 consecutive starts. No matter what team he was on, Ken was always a fan favorite. The fans always love a gutsy pitcher who can hit. Ken was courted by 23 teams as an outfielder. The Red Sox selected him as the fourth overall pick in 1966, the only team who wanted him as a pitcher.

Ken finished his career playing with his brother George on the Royals in 1980 and 1981. Ken had a front row seat to watch his brother hit .390 in 1980. Ken played up his frequent team changes in a Miller Lite beer commercial in 1984. The punchline "Utica" led to a managerial job in Utica.

Sadly, Ken succumbed to brain cancer in 2003, after a six year battle. He was only 55 years old. He left behind a wife and a son and daughter, who are twins. I'm sure if there was no DH, Ken would've been part of the 1977 Southside Hitmen, at least every five days.

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