Last Monday we looked back on the career of Ernie Banks “Mr. Cub” in our inaugural edition of “Remember When” series. Today we are going to be looking back to Former Cubs Shortstop Don Kessinger.
Don Kessinger was a member of the Chicago Cubs for 12 seasons out of 16 in the Major Leagues, starting his career back in 1964. Kessinger was not the talk of many until his third season in 1966 when he batted .274/.306/.302 in 150 games. That was the start of what was a solid decade for the Cubs with his first All-Star game in 1968 after slashing .273 with a career-high 181 hits in 737 plate appearances.
Kessinger continued to become one of the up and coming stars on the Cubs team that included other greats like Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, and Glenn Beckert. At the time, that infield was incredible with Kessinger along with every other infielder making the 1969 NL All-Star team. He wasn’t the star of the squad but played an instrumental role alongside Santo and Banks who are both obviously Cubs legends.
In addition to his 1969 All-Star bid, Kessinger’s defense received credibility, winning the Gold Glove Award at the end of his season, regarded as one of the best shortstops in the league at the time. With that accolade followed three more All-Star games in four years and another Gold Glove Award in 1970 where Kessinger became a very popular player alongside the other Cubs greats.
Just like all careers nowadays, Don Kessinger’s time with the Cubs concluded in 1976 when he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Mike Garman and infielder Bobby Hrapmann. At the age of 33, Kessinger simply wasn’t the All-Star self he was just a season before and finished out his career in 1979 with the White Sox.
For his Cubs career, Kessinger appeared in 1,648 games, batting .255/.315/.629 with 6 All-Star Games and 2 Gold Glove Awards. He finished in the Top-25 for MVP voting twice in 1969 and 1970 while becoming a fan favorite in the Cubs infield. Kessinger was best known for the defense and was truly a Cubs great that will never be forgotten.