Chicago Cubs: Kobe Bryant demise recalls Cub Ken Hubbs death

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Ken Hubbs, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Hubbs shatters records as a rookie

Baseball fans are quite familiar with the movie starring Robert Redford called “The Natural.”  The lead character’s name in the film is Roy Hobbs, who was rumored to have come from Chicago Cubs second baseman and legend, Ken Hubbs.

In September of 1961, Hubbs was called up to the majors to see his first action. Hubbs played in ten games in September 1961, earning five hits in 28 at-bats and one home run all at the tender age of 19. So in 1962, after several moves within the Cubs organization, it was clear that second base was going to be all Hubbs going forward.

Hubbs was in good company those days with Ernie Banks at shortstop, Ron Santo at third base with Billy Williams and Lou Brock in the outfield and Don Elston pitching.  Hubbs would play in 160 games in 1962 hitting .260, with 172 hits with five home runs and 49 runs batted in. Hubbs led all National League rookies in games, hits, doubles, triples, runs and batting average that year.

In 1961, Cubs outfielder Billy Williams won the Rookie of the Year honor, and Hubbs was named the very next year in 1962. That goes to show how good these guys and the Cubs were at the time with two Cubs players being honored two years in a row.   Since that time, no other Cub has won the award until Jerome Walton came along and took the honors for the Cubs in 1989.

One of Hubbs’ most significant accomplishments in his short career was becoming the first rookie ever to win the Gold Glove Award, which came as no surprise as Hubbs set a major league record as a rookie playing 78 consecutive games with 418 total chances without an error. Hubbs glove from that 1962 Rookie of the Year season, is on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.