Harvey Kuenn was a solid baseball player of the 1950s, an American League Rookie of the Year who finished with 2,000 career hits, and who led the Milwaukee Brewers to their only pennant as a manager in 1982.

Harvey Edward Kuenn was born December 4, 1930 in West Allis, Wisconsin. He attended West Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, and went on to have a standout college career at the University of Wisconsin. As a junior, he set most of the school's single season batting records, records that stood for nearly 50 years. In 1952, he was signed as a "bonus baby" by the Detroit Tigers.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

After a ridiculously short stint at Davenport, Harvey saw play in the big leagues the same year he was signed, playing 19 games with the Tigers near the end of the 1952 season, and batting .325. He showed enough promise to keep around, and in 1953, he had an outstanding season, batting .308 with 209 hits, being named to the All-Star team and more importantly, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award, falling just one shy of a unanimous vote.

From 1954 to 1959, Kuenn served as a stalwart of one of the better Detroit lineups of its long history, along with third baseman Ray Boone and slugger Al Kaline. He was an All-Star in each of those years, culminating in a batting title in 1959 with a .353 clip and thrice leading the league in doubles. Kuenn was not notoriously speedy, but he was a hard runner and a hustler - Pete Rose without the longevity. Growing up he had always played shortstop, but in 1957 he was moved into the outfield. This had little effect on his hitting or his fielding - Kuenn was a solid, unassuming .300 hitter. In 1955 he married "Miss Wisconsin", Dixie Sarchet. The couple had two kids, Harvey Jr. and Robin, but divorced in 1961. Harvey later remarried to Audrey Delmar.

Down And Out

In 1960, Cleveland Indians slugger Rocky Colavito was holding out for more money. Rather than deal with him, his general manager traded him to Detroit straight up for Kuenn. Colavito was an extremely popular player, and Harvey was treated very unfairly in Cleveland. An early injury in May hampered his playing time, and though he batted .308, he was booed frequently for his misplays, and rarely lauded for his good ones.

During the off-season the Indians, desperate for pitching, shipped Harvey off to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for two no-name pitchers. With the Giants, Kuenn played a more auxiliary role behind Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda. For five years, Kuenn played leftfield for the Giants, batting respectable (but nowhere near his early career peak) and roaming the field, a lumbering giant in the age of speed ball. Washed up, he was traded in 1965 to the Chicago Cubs, where he finished out the season batting .217. 3 games into 1966, he was again traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he platooned off the bench before retiring at the end of the year. At 36, his legs simply couldn't handle the strain of baseball.

After Baseball

In 1972, the longtime Milwaukee native was given a job as hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a likeable coach, known for his famous cheek stuffed full of tobacco, and stayed with the team the rest of his career. In 1976, he had to have open-heart surgery, and in 1980, a blood clot in his leg cut off circulation, and his leg had to be amputated at the knee in order to save his life. This didn't stop him from coaching - in fact, in 1982 he was named the manager of the team. At the time, the team was 23-24, but under Harvey's guidance, "Harvey's Wallbangers" went 72-43 to finish out the year and captured their only pennant in team history. Though they lost to the Cardinals in 7 games, Harvey was named American League Manager of the Year. However, after an anemic 5th place finish in 1983, and with Harvey's health in question, he stepped down as manager.

In his later years, Harvey owned and managed Cesar's Inn, a small bar on 56th Street in Milwaukee. Harvey Kuenn, baseball star and forward-thinking manager, unexpectedly passed away February 28, 1988, in Peoria, Arizona.

Career Statistics

YEAR   TEAM    G   AB   R    H  2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA
1952 DET AL   19   80   2   26   2  2  0   8  2  1   2   1 .325
1953 DET AL  155  679  94  209  33  7  2  48  6  5  50  31 .308
1954 DET AL  155  656  81  201  28  6  5  48  9  9  29  13 .306
1955 DET AL  145  620 101  190  38  5  8  62  8  3  40  27 .306
1956 DET AL  146  591  96  196  32  7 12  88  9  5  55  34 .332
1957 DET AL  151  624  74  173  30  6  9  44  5  8  47  28 .277
1958 DET AL  139  561  73  179  39  3  8  54  5 10  51  34 .319
1959 DET AL  139  561  99  198  42  7  9  71  7  2  48  37 .353
1960 CLE AL  126  474  65  146  24  0  9  54  3  0  55  25 .308
1961 SFG NL  131  471  60  125  22  4  5  46  5  4  47  34 .265
1962 SFG NL  130  487  73  148  23  5 10  68  3  6  49  37 .304
1963 SFG NL  120  417  61  121  13  2  6  31  2  1  44  38 .290
1964 SFG NL  111  351  42   92  16  2  4  22  0  1  35  32 .262
1965 SFG NL   23   59   4   14   0  0  0   6  3  1  10   3 .237
     CHC NL   54  120  11   26   5  0  0   6  1  0  22  13 .217
     TOT NL   77  179  15   40   5  0  0  12  4  1  32  16 .223
1966 CHC NL    3    3   0    1   0  0  0   0  0  0   0   1 .333
     PHI NL   86  159  15   47   9  0  0  15  0  0  10  16 .296
     TOT NL   89  162  15   48   9  0  0  15  0  0  10  17 .296
     CAREER 1833 6913 951 2092 356 56 87 671 68 56 594 404 .303
* Bold denotes led league.

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