Tony Kubek

Tony Kubek

Infobox MLB retired
name=Tony Kubek
birthdate=birth date and age|1936|10|12
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
debutdate=April 20
debutteam=New York Yankees
finaldate=October 3
finalteam=New York Yankees
stat1label=Batting average
stat3label=Runs scored
* New York Yankees (by|1957-by|1965)
* 3x All-Star selection (1958, 1959, 1961)
* 3x World Series champion (1958, 1961, 1962)
* 1957 AL Rookie of the Year

Anthony Christopher Kubek (born October 12, 1936 [Most reliable sources give Kubek's date of birth as 1936 but his Topps 1957 baseball card (visible [] ) shows his birth date as 1935.] , in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a retired American baseball player and television broadcaster. During his nine-year playing career he played in six World Series, starting in 37 World Series games.

Playing career

A left-handed batter, Kubek signed his first professional contract with the New York Yankees and rose rapidly through the Yankees' farm system. He was 20 years of age when he played his first game in Major League Baseball in by|1957, and — except for one year (by|1962) spent largely in the U.S. military — remained with the Yankees until his retirement due to a back injury at the close of the by|1965 season. In his prime he formed a top double play combination with second baseman (and roommate) Bobby Richardson on an infield that also featured third baseman Clete Boyer.

Kubek played 1,092 games, 882 of them at shortstop (although he also was an outfielder and utility infielder in his early career), compiling a lifetime batting average of .266 with 57 home runs. His career fielding percentage and range factor were both above league average. During his nine years with the Yankees, he played on seven American League pennant winners (1957-58, 1960-64) and three world champions (1958, 1961-1962).

In an article in 1976 in "Esquire" magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Kubek was the shortstop on Stein's Polish team.

In 1986, Kubek was on hand for the only Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium that he would take part in. That year, the event was a reunion of the 1961 Yankees and marked the recent passing of Roger Maris.

Rookie of the Year

In by|1957, Kubek won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. In Game 3 of the 1957 World Series, he had one of the best World Series games a rookie has ever had, going 3 for 5 with two home runs, three runs scored, and four RBI. Kubek is one of four rookies to hit two home runs in a World Series game. Another Yankee, Charlie Keller, had performed the feat in the 1939 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinal Willie McGee homered twice in the 1982 World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers. All three of these feats occurred in a Game 3; Kubek's and McGee's both occurred at Milwaukee County Stadium. The Atlanta Braves' Andruw Jones homered twice in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

1960 World Series

In Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, Kubek was victimized by a bad-hop ground ball that struck him in the throat; Kubek was badly injured and the batter, Bill Virdon, reached first base, enabling the Pittsburgh Pirates to rally in a game they eventually won 10-9 on a ninth-inning homer by Bill Mazeroski. Kubek was curiously sensitive about the Bill Virdon incident. When future broadcasting partner Bob Costas once referenced Virdon's smash on the air, Kubek put his hand on Costas' thigh to stop him. Just before the 1963 World Series, TV personality Phil Silvers, a Dodger fan, provided a reporter with a list of Yankee players to rattle. He included Kubek: "Show him a pebble."

Broadcasting career

NBC Sports

Upon his retirement, Kubek became a color commentator on NBC's Saturday "Game of the Week" telecasts. Kubek initially had trouble adjusting to the world of broadcasting. Although he had a lot to say, he was gangling, he tended to stutter, and talked too fast. Curt Gowdy soon suggested to Kubek that he should work offseason to improve his delivery. Buying a recorder, Kubek often read poetry aloud for 20 minutes a day. Kubek eventually became a respected broadcaster, doing both play-by-play and commentary. He spent 24 years at the network, teaming with play-by-play announcers such as Jim Simpson, Curt Gowdy (whom Kubek called his favorite partner), Joe Garagiola and Bob Costas. While Kubek was a lively play-by-play announcer during his NBC years, he could be considered baseball’s first modern style analyst, similar to Tim McCarver and Jim Kaat later.

In addition to the weekly in-season games, Kubek worked over a dozen World Series (1969-1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982), plus the American League Championship Series (1969-1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989), and All-Star Games (1969-1975, 1977, 1979 and 1981).

He also worked local telecasts for the Toronto Blue Jays on The Sports Network and CTV after they entered the AL in by|1977. The "Toronto Star" said that Kubek "educated a whole generation of Canadian baseball fans without being condescending or simplistic." During the winter, Kubek would go hunting, coach junior high basketball, and wait for baseball to resume.


As both a local and national sportscaster, Kubek was known for his outspokenness. While calling the 1972 American League Championship Series, Kubek said that Oakland's Bert Campaneris throwing his bat at Detroit's Lerrin LaGrow (who knocked Campaneris down) was justified. Kubek believed that any pitch aimed squarely at a batter's legs could endanger his career. Incensed, Detroit's Chrysler Corporation phoned Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who then called NBC, which in return pressured Kubek.

On April 8, by|1974, when Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th career home run, Kubek, who was calling the game with Curt Gowdy and Joe Garagiola, criticized Bowie Kuhn on air for failing to be in attendance at Atlanta on that historic night. Kuhn argued that he had a prior engagement that he could not break.

In the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series, Cincinnati's César Gerónimo reached first base. Then, Boston catcher Carlton Fisk threw Ed Armbrister's bunt into center field. Kubek, on the NBC telecast, immediately charged that Armbrister interfered (with the attempted forceout) despite the fact that home plate umpire Larry Barnett didn't agree. After Joe Morgan drove in the game winning run for the Reds in a 6-5 victory, Barnett blamed Kubek for receiving death threats. Later, Kubek got 1,000 letters dubbing him a Boston stooge.

With Bob Costas

The team of Kubek and Bob Costas (backing up Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola and later, Tom Seaver) proved to be a formidable pair. Costas was praised by fans for both his reverence and irreverence while Kubek was praised for his technical approch and historical perspective. One of the pair's most memorable broadcasts came on June 23, by|1984 at Chicago's Wrigley Field to call a 12-11 contest between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Led by superstar second baseman (and future Hall of Famer) Ryne Sandberg, the Cubs rallied from a 9-3 deficit before winning in extra innings. The game has since been affectionately known as "The Sandberg Game."

Kubek and Costas, who had worked together since by|1983 (and in the process, called four American League Championship Series: 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989), called the final edition (the 981st overall) of NBC's "Game of the Week" which aired on September 30, by|1989. Coincidentally, that particular game featured the Toronto Blue Jays (a team that Kubek was long associated with as a broadcaster) beating the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 to clinch the AL East title at SkyDome. When the subject came up of NBC losing the rights to televising Major League Baseball for the first time since by|1946, Kubek simply said, "I can't believe it!" The final broadcast for Kubek and Costas as a team was Game 5 of the 1989 American League Championship Series.

MSG Network

When NBC lost its baseball to CBS after the by|1989 season, Kubek disappeared from the national scene, joining the Yankees' local cable-TV announcing team (which earned Kubek $525,000 a year). Ironically, back in by|1978, Kubek had said of Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner that "He's got an expensive toy. Baseball's tough enough without an owner harassing you."


Kubek spent five years calling games for the Yankees (by|1990-by|1994) on the MSG Network, where he earned fans and critics' respect for his honesty. After 1994, Kubek effectively quit broadcasting. He explained his sudden retirement from sportscasting by saying:

cquote|I hate what the game's become — the greed, the nastiness. You can't be married to baseball, give your heart to it, but when it starts taking over your soul, it's time to say whoa. Kubek added, "I want to go home and spend more time with my family. They deserve it more than anyone. I don't need that ego stuff. I feel sorry for those who do."

Kubek's resignation coincided with the bitter strike that wound up cancelling the World Series in by|1994. In a 2008 "New York Times" article, Kubek claimed to have not seen a major league game since his retirement from broadcasting. [cite web | url= | title=Kubek's New Life | author=Harvey Araton | publisher="The New York Times" | date=2008-07-22]


Kubek is a committed Democrat. In 1976, he placed politics above friendship and declined to come to South Carolina to campaign for former teammate Bobby Richardson, who lost a close race for the United States House of Representatives. Richardson, a Republican, was defeated by incumbent Democrat Kenneth Holland with a 51% to 48% margin.


External links

* [ Baseball Reference]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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