Today’s Beantown Baseball Birthday Celebrant is a throwback to the days when big league shortstops couldn’t hit and weren’t expected to hit. I could never figure out why guys who played this position got a free pass offensively for so long. I guess it was Cal Ripken who changed the perception of what an All Star shortstop should be able to do and guys like A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter then came along and made sure that the days of good glove, lousy hitting shortstops were a thing of the past.
John Kennedy was one of those dinosaurs. In fact, the only reason fans like me paid any attention to him when he made his big league debut with the Senators in 1962 was that he had the same name as another guy who had also started a new job in our Nation’s Capital the year before. In fact the infielder and President John Kennedy also shared the same birthday.
After getting traded to the Dodgers and Yankees and then sold to the Seattle Pilots, the Red Sox became Kennedy’s fifth and final big league team in 1970. He turned out to be a very reliable utility infielder for manager Eddie Kasko’s Boston ball clubs of the early seventies and actually became a better hitter once he got to Beantown, averaging .243 during his five seasons as a Red Sox as compared to only .225 during his full 12-year big league career. The Fenway faithful appreciated the way “Super Sub” hustled every second he was on the field and apparently so did the Boston front office. When Kennedy retired as a player, he was given a job by the organization as a minor league manager.