Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ken Berry (#127)

Ken Berry played 9 seasons for the White Sox (including starting gigs from 1965 to 1970), followed by 3 seasons with the Angels, then wrapped up his career with a season each with the Brewers and Indians.

Berry was signed by the White Sox, and played 4 seasons (1961-64) in their farm system. During his last 3 minor-league seasons, he played a few games with the White Sox during his September call-ups.

Ken made the Sox in 1965, taking over the starting center field job from longtime incumbent Jim Landis, who was traded to the Athletics. Berry started 142 games in center during his rookie season, and played in another 15 games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. He also hit a career-high 12 home runs, although only batting .218.

(I was going to make some kind of comment about the Ken Berry from the "Mayberry RFD" and "F Troop" TV shows, but here, Berry looks like Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out")

With the arrival of soon-to-be AL Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee in 1966, Berry was initially left without a position for the first 2 months. After Danny Cater was traded to the Athletics, Berry became the primary left fielder for the final 4 months of the season, while also getting some starts in right field. At the plate, Ken raised his batting average to .271, 53 points higher than his rookie year.

1967 saw another veteran outfielder (Floyd Robinson) leaving Chicago, so Berry replaced him in right field for the first 2 months. After spending most of June bouncing between left and right, Ken played in center field for most of July, while Agee was out of the lineup. The Sox had acquired Rocky Colavito at the end of July, and he pulled most of the right field starts over the final 2 months, which relegated Berry to the bench upon Agee’s return in early August.

Prior to the 1968 season, Agee was traded to the Mets, which allowed Berry to slide back to the center field position he held down as a rookie. Ken started 137 games as the center gardener, between new wingmen Tommy Davis (LF) and a committee-of-5 in right field. Ken continued as the Sox’ regular center fielder for the next 2 seasons, although he was out of the starting lineup for much of June and July 1969.

After the 1970 season, he was part of a 6-player trade with the Angels, which sent Jay Johnstone to the White Sox. After 3 seasons as the Angels’ center fielder, he was traded to the Brewers (with pitchers Steve Barber and Clyde Wright) for pitcher Skip Lockwood, catcher Ellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Ollie Brown and Joe LaHoud.

In his one season with Milwaukee, Ken was a backup center fielder and pinch-hitter. Following his post-season release, he was up by the Indians, where he played 25 games until he was released in early June.

In his career, Berry made one all-star team (1967) and won 2 Gold Gloves (’70, ’72).

After his playing career, Ken was a minor-league manager off-and-on from 1982 to 1997.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Ken is also a children's book author and was recently in Milwaukee for a signing.