Ken Hubbs (Kenneth Douglas Hubbs)

Ken Hubbs

Kenneth Douglass Hubbs (December 23, 1941 – February 13, 1964) was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a second baseman for the Chicago Cubs from 1961 to 1963. He was killed in a plane crash near Provo, Utah prior to the 1964 season. In his short big-league career, Hubbs was considered to be an excellent fielder; assessments of his hitting were more mixed. In 1962, he became the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award, and set several fielding records. Those achievements helped him win the National League Rookie of the Year Award that season. At the time of his death, Hubbs was considered to be one of the best defensive second basemen in the game. During the 1961 season, the Cubs played Don Zimmer and Jerry Kindall at second base, both of whom struggled at the plate: while Zimmer made the National League All-Star team that year, he hit only .252 and Kindall .242. Ken Hubbs was called up from the minor leagues to give the Cubs more offense at second base. He made his major league debut on September 10, 1961 against the Philadelphia Phillies, with three at-bats, two hits and one run batted in in a 12-5 Cub loss. He played in ten games in late 1961, with five hits in 26 at-bats and one home run. The New York Mets drafted Zimmer in the 1961 expansion draft and the Cubs traded Kindall, leaving Hubbs as the starting second baseman for ninth-place Chicago in 1962. He played in 160 games that season, with 172 hits with five home runs and 49 runs batted in. He led all National League rookies in games, hits, doubles, triples, runs and batting average. For that he was named the Rookie of the Year, earning 19 out of 20 votes and becoming the second consecutive Cubs player to win the award after Billy Williams had won the award the season before. Not until Jerome Walton in 1989 would another Cub win the Rookie of the Year Award. In the field, Ken Hubbs set records with 78 consecutive games and 418 total chances without an error, breaking Bobby Doerr’s Major League Baseball major league records, making him the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award. He also led the league in two less desirable categories that season by striking out 129 times and grounding into 20 double plays. On September 30, he started a triple play in the final game of the season against the Mets.

Ken Hubbs was well liked by his teammates. Ernie Banks remembered, “Lots of young players do something special and you can’t talk to them any more. Not Ken. One day, he got seven hits in a doubleheader. Pretty good for a rookie. But he didn’t talk or act any differently than when he didn’t get a hit.” He was known for his faith. Reporters often noted that he did not smoke or drink alcohol, and that he attended church services while on the road with the team. With Hubbs’s encouragement, teammate Ron Santo quit smoking. In 1963 Hubbs played in 155 games and batted only .235 with eight home runs and 47 runs batted in, but his superior fielding helped the Cubs finish over .500 at 82-80.

 

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Born

  • December, 23, 1941
  • USA
  • Riverside, California

Died

  • February, 13, 1964
  • USA
  • Provo, Utah

Cause of Death

  • plane crash

Cemetery

  • Montecito Memorial Park
  • Colton, California
  • USA

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