Monday, August 29, 2011

When "Hot Rod" stole home

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

I’m not sure whether this feat contributed to Rod Kanehl acquiring the nickname “Hot Rod,” but it well could have been a consideration.

Kanehl was standing on third in a bases-loaded, none-out situation at home in Nashville (Southern Association) in the second game of a doubleheader on July 17, 1960. With the score tied at 5-5, Little Rock relief pitcher Frank Mankovitch fell behind in the count to Crawford Davidson at the plate.

When catcher Don (Stumpy) Williams started for the mound to settle down his pitcher, Kanehl noticed that he had not asked the umpire for time out.

As Williams neared the mound, Kanehl broke for the plate and scored easily with the winning run.

Vols manager, Jim Turner, coaching at third base, said it was the first time in his 38-year-career in organized baseball that he had seen such a play.

At the time, Kanehl was a seasoned veteran of the minor leagues. At age 26, he was in his seventh season in the Yankees' organization.

In the 1961 minor league draft, Kanehl was taken by the N.Y. Mets, and became the team's super-sub, playing all four infield positions and all three outfield positions in 1962. He lasted in the major only through the 1964 season. 

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