Glancing Back, and Remembering Glenn Beckert
If Bill Mazeroski was the consensus best defensive second baseman to play during the 1960s, then Glenn Beckert had to be, if not a close second, at least closer than anyone else in the National League during that decade.
Beckert had outstanding range and could turn a double play as fast as anyone in the league not nicknamed “Maz.” Teamed for nine seasons with shortstop Don Kessinger, the Chicago Cubs keystone combination was formidable in the field and more than respectable at the plate. Beckert especially was a tough out, usually ending among the league leaders in fewest strikeouts per at-bats.
Beckert was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1962 and selected by the Cubs a year later in the minor league draft. He played shortstop primarily in the minors, having both the arm strength and range to accommodate that position. The sudden death of Ken Hubbs in 1964 brought Beckert to the Cubs as their second baseman starting with the 1965 season, when Beckert hit .239.
Beckert’s batting average improved to .287 in 1966 and .280 in 1967. His 98 runs scored led the National League in 1968, when he raised his batting average to .294. His best season with a bat came in 1971 when he hit .342 with 181 hits, 18 doubles and 42 RBIs. From 1966 through 1971, Beckert had a combined batting average for the Cubs of .296.
But as good as Beckert could be at the plate, his strength was to be found in his fielding. He won the National League Gold Glove for second basemen in 1968.
In November of 1973, the Cubs traded Beckert and Bobby Fenwick to the San Diego Padres for Jerry Morales. He hit .256 as a part-time player in 1974, and retired after nine games during the 1975 season.
Beckert was an All-Star four times. He finished his 11-year major league career with 1,473 hits and a .283 batting average.