Cleveland Indians Connections: The Kennedy's Father-Son Legacy That Started in Euclid
I was perusing my San Diego Padres card collection recently, and as I often do, read many of the card backs. While reading Terry Kennedy’s 1987 Fleer card, I noticed he was born in Euclid, Ohio, a new revelation for me.
Having lived in Northeast Ohio for nearly 20 years now, I was intrigued and decided to investigate this connection to NEO.
I knew of Terry’s father, Bob Kennedy, from the father-son card in the 1985 Topps baseball card set I received as a Christmas gift that year.
I knew little else of Bob Kennedy or his connection to the Cleveland area.
Much of the following l learned from my research with SABR and Baseball-Reference.com.
Bob Kennedy was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1920. He signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1937 as a third baseman and later made his MLB debut in 1939.
Known as a line-drive hitter, Kennedy played for the White Sox through 1942 and then spent the next three years in the service during the war, returning to the White Sox in 1946.
During the 1948 season, Kennedy was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the deal sending Pat Seerey and Al Gettel to Chicago.
Kennedy hit .301 in limited action for the Indians that years but was a member of the Indians’ last World Series championship team.
Kennedy would remain with the Indians until April 1954, when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in their first season as a major league baseball team, having relocated from St. Louis during the offseason.
Kennedy had the distinction of hitting the first grand slam in Orioles history off Yankees hurler Allie Reynolds in July of that year.
In his mid-thirties when traded to Baltimore, Kennedy saw his playing time decrease until his retirement in 1957.
Kennedy’s last at-bat in his 16-year career came on the final day of the 1957 season as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Interestingly, his final at-bat was also the last at-bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers as they would move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.
SABR writer Phil Cola said Kennedy called his years in Cleveland the best years of his playing days.
The three-year period from 1949 to 1951 was arguably his most productive stretch as he twice hit a career-high nine home runs and totaled 353 base hits during this period.
Kennedy’s best season was in 1950, appearing in 146 games for the Indians—the most since his rookie season in 1940—and hitting for a career-high .291.
He also posted career highs in hits (157), runs scored (79), and doubles (27) to go with five triples, nine home runs, and 54 RBIs.
After retiring at the end of the 1957 season, Kennedy was hired by the Indians as a scout. The next season, the Indians promoted him to assistant farm director.
Beginning in 1962, he would spend the next thirty years in various coaching, managing, and front office positions, including positions as GM and VP of baseball operations for the Cubs, Astros, and Giants, before retiring in 1992 at the age of 72.
Bob Kennedy spent 56 years in professional baseball and also watched his son Terry enjoy a 14-year career as a big-league catcher.
For all of Kennedy’s accomplishments as a player and coach, perhaps his greatest moment came in 1989 as an executive for the San Francisco Giants when they won the World Series with son Terry as the Giant’s primary catcher.
Bob Kennedy passed away in Mesa, Arizona, in 2005 at the age of 84.