Saturday, January 30, 2010

Final Card: Willie Kirkland

Willie Kirkland (#434) was a starting outfielder for the Giants in the late 1950s, and later for the Cleveland Indians.

Willie (wow, he even has the right first name for a Giant!) was signed by the New York Giants in 1953, and played 4 seasons in their farm system before missing the 1957 season due to military service.

Kirkland made his major-league debut on April 15, 1958, and started 102 games in right field during his rookie season.

1959 was more of the same, as Willie the K started 105 games in right. (Felipe Alou started most of the remaining games there.) Even though Willie McCovey joined the Giants in 1959, that didn't affect Kirkland, as McCovey played only 1B that year. Orlando Cepeda would alternate between 1B and LF, which squeezed left fielder Jackie Brandt.

1960 would be Kirkland's last season with the Giants, and he went out with a bang - starting 135 games in right field. After the season, he and pitcher Johnny Antonelli were traded to the Indians for outfielder Harvey Kuenn.

Willie played 3 seasons for the Indians, the first 2 as their starting right fielder. In 1963, he shared the right field chores with Al Luplow.

After the 1963 season, Kirkland moved on to the Orioles, where he was re-united with former Giants teammate Jackie Brandt. For awhile, Willie started about half the games in right field, alternating with Sam Bowens. After July 9th, Bowens took over the job fulltime, and Kirkland was sold to the Senators on August 12th.

Willie played for the Senators until the end of the 1966 season, and was pretty much a 5th outfielder (behind Frank Howard, Don Lock, Jim King, and Fred Valentine). In 1965, he shared the right field starts with Jim King.

In 1967, Kirkland played 144 games for the Senators' triple-A team in Hawaii, before retiring from baseball.

No comments: