Jim Kaat

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Jim Kaat
Pitcher
Born: (1938-11-07) November 7, 1938 (age 75)
Zeeland, Michigan
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
MLB debut
August 2, 1959 for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
July 1, 1983 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Win–loss record283–237
Earned run average3.45
Strikeouts2,461
Teams
Career highlights and awards
 
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Jim Kaat
Pitcher
Born: (1938-11-07) November 7, 1938 (age 75)
Zeeland, Michigan
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
MLB debut
August 2, 1959 for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
July 1, 1983 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Win–loss record283–237
Earned run average3.45
Strikeouts2,461
Teams
Career highlights and awards

James Lee "Jim" Kaat (born November 7, 1938), nicknamed "Kitty", is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1959–1973), Chicago White Sox (1973–1975), Philadelphia Phillies (1976–1979), New York Yankees (1979–1980), and St. Louis Cardinals (1980–1983). His career spanned four decades.

After a brief stint as a pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds under Pete Rose, he went on to became a sportscaster and for the next 22 years called games for the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins. Following a brief retirement in 2006, Jim Kaat was back in the broadcast booth calling Pool D for the 2009 World Baseball Classic in Puerto Rico, called games for NESN in 2009 (as a replacement for Jerry Remy), and currently calls games for the MLB Network as of the 2012 season.[1]

He has written a best-selling book, Still Pitching, and has started a sports management company, Southpaw Enterprises, Inc., solely representing pitchers.

Biography[edit]

Baseball career[edit]

Kaat attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and pitched for the Flying Dutchmen baseball team, before being signed by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent in 1957. Kaat would spend all of 1957 & '58 in the minor leagues before breaking into the majors in 1959. After pitching in 16 games spread out over the next two seasons, Kaat became a permanent member of the pitching staff when the team moved west in 1961 to become the Minnesota Twins. On July 24, 1963 Jim Kaat threw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run for a 5–0 Twins win over the Indians.[2] The combination has only happened three times in Minnesota history and Kaat did it twice (with the second coming on October 1, 1970).[3]

On July 23, 1964, he would give up two home runs to Bert Campaneris, who was making his major league debut in the game.[4] Kaat was a member of the 1965 Twins team that won the American League pennant. He started three games in the 1965 World Series, matching up with Sandy Koufax on all three occasions, including a complete game victory in Game 2.

His best season was in 1966, when he won a league-leading 25 games. He finished fifth in the MVP voting and was named the American League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. The National League's Sandy Koufax won the Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote; it was the last year in which only one award was given for both leagues. Although his 1967 season was somewhat of a let down after his near Cy Young in 1966 (he finished 16-13 with a 3.04 ERA), he went on a tear in September and nearly pitched the Twins to another World Series appearance - cruising to a 7–0 record with a 1.51 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched. However another shot at a World Series title was not to be as Kaat sustained a season-ending arm injury in the third inning of the second to last game of the season and the Red Sox swept the final two games to win the American League pennant.

Kaat was an All-Star three times (1962, 1966, 1975), and won the Gold Glove Award for defensive skill a record 16 consecutive times (1962–1977). His record for career Gold Gloves by a pitcher is now second to Greg Maddux's 18. Kaat used the same baseball glove for 15 seasons.[5] Although Kaat would pitch a few games a year out of the bullpen, he was primarily a starting pitcher until 1979, when he became a relief pitcher in a season in which he split time between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. With the Cardinals in 1982, Kaat earned his only World Series ring working in four games out of the bullpen in the 1982 World Series. In 1983 he became the last major league player to have played in the 1950s and the last "original" (pre-Twins) Washington Senator player to retire. Kaat is one of only 29 players in baseball history to date to have appeared in Major League games in four decades.

At the time of his retirement, Kaat's 25-year career was the longest of any pitcher in major league history. He is now third all-time, behind Nolan Ryan's 27 seasons and Tommy John's 26 campaigns. Kaat also set a 20th Century record by playing during the administrations of seven U.S. PresidentsDwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jr., Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. This mark was equaled by Nolan Ryan when he retired after the 1993 Season – the first year of the administration of Bill Clinton. Ryan first played in the major leagues in 1966, during the Johnson administration.

Retirement[edit]

Upon retirement, he served a short stint with the Cincinnati Reds as the club's pitching coach. When Pete Rose took over in 1984 as the Reds' player/manager, he made good on a promise to Kaat, his former Philadelphia Phillies teammate, and hired the former hurler for his coaching staff. Kaat would coach part of the 1984 season and all of 1985, a year in which he guided Cincinnati rookie Tom Browning to a 20–9 record. "At least I can say I had a 20-game winner every year I coached", Kaat used to joke. After retiring from baseball, he turned to broadcasting and is currently under contract with the MLB Network for which he does broadcasting and video and web blogs.

Broadcasting career[edit]

Early broadcasting career[edit]

As was stated during the television broadcast of the seventh game of the 1965 World Series, Kaat was a broadcaster on local radio in Minnesota. He also served as an analyst for Home Team Sports during the 1981 baseball strike. Following retirement, he went into sports broadcasting full-time starting out as the chief baseball correspondent for Good Morning America from 1984–85.[6]

His first stint with the Yankees was during the 1986 season, where he called around 100 games for WPIX.[7] He only lasted one season as the Yankees replaced him with Billy Martin, who was between managaging stints and who was purposely brought in to second-guess Lou Piniella.[8] In between broadcasting stints for the Yankees, he spent six years (19881993) as an announcer for the Twins.[8]

In 1986, Kaat was the backup annnouncer for NBC's coverage of baseball with Phil Stone (for the April 19 MinnesotaCalifornia contest) and Jay Randolph (the July 14 CincinnatiAtlanta contest).[8] In 1988, he covered the College World Series and the MLB playoffs and World Series for ESPN and also served as an analyst for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics.[6]

1990s[edit]

From 19901993, Kaat served as an analyst for CBS television, teaming with Dick Stockton and then, Greg Gumbel (for whom Kaat also called the College World Series with for CBS from 19901993) in 1993. Besides calling four American League Championship Series for CBS (1990–1993), Kaat served as a field reporter with Lesley Visser (1990–1992) and Andrea Joyce (1991) during the World Series. Kaat also covered three World Series Trophy presentations for CBS (19901992). Over the course of Game 2 of the 1992 ALCS, Kaat was stricken with a bad case of laryngitis.[9] As a result, Johnny Bench had to come over from the CBS Radio booth and finish the game with Dick Stockton as a "relief analyst."[10] There was talk that if Kaat's laryngitis did not get better, Don Drysdale was going to replace Kaat on TV for Game 3 while Bench would continue to work on CBS Radio. In 1993, he filled in for Lesley Visser until late August as CBS' primary field reporter after she suffered injuries in a bizarre jogging accident in New York City's Central Park.[11]

In 1994, he was the lead analyst on Baseball Tonight for ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball. In 1995, he was nominated for a New York Emmy Award for "On Camera Achievement." Also in 1995, Kaat called the American League playoffs with Brent Musburger for ABC/The Baseball Network including the YankeesSeattle Mariners Division Series.[6]

He served his second stint as an announcer for Yankees games on the MSG Network/YES Network (19952006),[8] where his straight-shooting style was much in the mode of former Yankees broadcasters Tony Kubek and Bill White. In addition, he was on the team which won the "Outstanding Live Sports Coverage – Single Program" New York Emmy for covering Dwight Gooden's no-hitter on May 14, 1996 and David Wells's perfect game on May 17, 1998.

2000s[edit]

Towards the end of his second stint with the Yankees, his workload decreased. In 2006, he only broadcast 65 games.[12] Despite his decreased work load, Kaat won another Emmy for on-air achievement in 2006.

In an on-air broadcast on September 10, 2006 with booth partner Ken Singleton, Kaat acknowledged his plan to end his broadcasting career. His final appearance in the booth was to be a YankeeRed Sox game on September 15, 2006 (Kaat was also set to throw out the first pitch). However, the game was postponed due to rain. Kaat later announced that he was going to record a special farewell message to the fans, but would not return for any additional broadcasts. However, the following day, Kaat did announce one full inning of the first game of Saturday September 16's doubleheader on Fox along with Tim McCarver and Josh Lewin. During that Fox telecast he was able to say goodbye to the Yankee fans, an opportunity that the previous night's rainout had deprived him of doing on the YES Network.

After his retirement from calling Yankees games full-time, Kaat has made several single-game appearances on various networks. Kaat made a special one-inning appearance, during the third inning, on the YES Network on June 30, 2008 during a YankeesRangers game. He also appeared live via telephone, during a Yankees–Blue Jays game on July 13, 2008, to discuss the recent death of Bobby Murcer. He joined the TBS Sunday Baseball team, for a single game on May 4, 2008.

In 2009, Kaat joined the recently launched MLB Network as a color commentator for their Thursday Night Baseball series. Kaat also writes a weekly on-line blog for the Yankees (YES) Network, Kaat's Korner, and contributes video blogs and interviews regularly with national and international media outlets. One of the reasons he got back into regular broadcasting was because after his wife died, Tim McCarver and Elizabeth Schumacher, his friend and business manager, urged him to get back into the game. He also called Pool D in Puerto Rico for the 2009 World Baseball Classic games for an international feed.[13]

Awards and accolades[edit]

From 1997–2005, Kaat won 7 Emmy Awards for excellence in sports broadcasting:[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Jim Kaat's marriage to his first wife, Julie, and his second wife, Linda, ended in divorce. Jim Kaat's third wife, MaryAnn Kaat, died in July 2008 after 22 years of marriage. Jim Kaat created a memorial fund in her name to put lights on the baseball fields in his hometown of Zeeland, Michigan in her honor.[14] Jim and MaryAnn have 4 children and 6 grandchildren. Kaat married fourth wife, Margie, in 2009.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]