Where Are They Now: A Toast For Glenn Beckert
In honor of the passing of Glenn Beckert, here’s a brief history on the Cubs infielder.
Thank you to all who reached out with potential names for the next edition of Where Are They Now. If you missed last week’s inaugural edition, check out what Glenallen Hill’s career was like with the Chicago Cubs.
I decided to write about Glenn Beckert this week after the Cubs announced the former second baseman had passed last week.
Beckert played 11 seasons in major league baseball. All but his final two seasons were with the Cubs.
His former teammates beloved him and they discuss their love and friendship for him in a piece written by Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune.
Beckert was a four-time All-Star infielder that knew how to put the ball in play. He only hit 22 career home runs and walked just 260 times in 1,320 career games, but Beckert knew how to give pitchers headaches. He led all of baseball in fewest strikeouts per at-bat five times between 1966 and 1972.
His highest total for strikeouts came in his rookie year when he struck out 52 times. He played almost every day, appearing in 130 or more games for his first seven seasons.
Beckert was a professional contact hitter, so fans knew what the Cubs would get from him each season. He was as consistent as any ballplayer throughout his career, finishing with a career .292 batting average at Wrigley Field and .274 average on the road.
He was one half of the double-play duo with Don Kessinger. Radio broadcaster Lou Boudreau compared the duo to, “the jelling … Don Kessinger-Glenn Beckert keystone combination [to] the same impossible game-saving plays and double plays made by … Joe Gordon, Ken Keltner and” himself.
Beckert graduated from high school in Pittsburgh, where he made All-City teams for basketball and baseball.
Later in his life, Beckert married Mary Eileen Marshall, a flight attendant for American Airlines.
Before his chance with the Cubs, he played two seasons in the minors. He joined the Cubs after Ken Hubbs, a former Rookie of the Year award winner, passed after a tragic plane accident in February of 1964.
His best season was in 1968 when he finished ninth in MVP voting, won a Gold Glove at second base, and finished with career-highs in hits (189), games played (155), and total bases (237). He also led baseball in runs scored (98). His Gold Glove award ended a streak that lasted five years for Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Bill Mazeroski.
Beckert went on to make the All-Star team in four consecutive seasons (1969-1972) following his breakout season. His 1971 campaign was his best offensively, slashing .342/.367/.406, all career-highs.
Baseball’s offense in the 1960s was not of what we see in today’s game, but it didn’t stop Beckert from putting together lengthy hitting streaks. In 1968, Beckert was batting in the ninth inning with a 19-game streak on the line and completed a bunt single to extend it to 20 games.
After the game, Beckert had a ’60s version of petty wars with opposing pitcher Bill Henry.
You just have to be lucky with a batting streak,” Beckert said. “I decided to bunt because [Pittsburgh pitcher Bill] Henry is an old man, not a good fielder and the grass is high in the infield…. I did a lot of bunting in batting practice today.– Becket on Pittsburgh pitcher Bill Henry after extending his hitting streak
Beckert ended up extending his streak to 27 games but failed to reach 28 after a controversial call at first base against the Giants didn’t go in his favor, officially ending the streak.
When thinking about Beckert’s prime seasons, you can’t help but wonder about the 1969 Cubs, a team that famously blew a nine-game division lead in the final two months of the season to the Mets.
The team included future Hall-of-Fame inductees Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks. Randy Hundley and Don Kessinger joined Santo and Beckert on the All-Star team that season as well.
Nonetheless, Beckert had a career he likely did not regret by the end of its tenure and the staple for the 1969 Cubs.
The trade turned out to be very beneficial for the Cubs as Morales played seven total seasons for the Cubs in two different stints throughout his 15-year career. Morales finished his Cubs career slashing .275/.330/.398 in 792 games.
Morales made his one and only All-Star appearance representing the Cubs in 1977.
In two seasons with the Padres, Beckert played just 73 games due to injuries related to arthritis and was released by the Padres in April of 1975.
Beckert called it quits after doctors told him he needed to stop exerting himself. His tenure with the Padres was nothing like his time with the Cubs. According to a book titled Wrigleyville by Peter Golenbock, Beckert hated the Padres uniforms.
The Padres had the world’s ugliest uniforms, puke yellow and brown, and it was a bad experience, going from … Scottsdale in spring training to Yuma, Arizona.– Beckert on the Padres uniforms
Beckert was 79 when he passed away on April 12, 2020. Ryne Sandberg will likely go down as the Cubs’ most memorable second baseman, but Beckert showed to be one of the franchise’s best infielders though Cubs history.
If there is a particular player you’re interested in knowing more about, tweet me @codelmendo and I’ll take a deep dive.