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Ken Reitz

Ken Reitz

Position(s):
3B, SS, 2B
Nicknames:
Zamboni
Born:
June 24, 1951
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6'
Weight:
180 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-05-1972 with SLN
Allstar Selections:
1975 GG

Reitz was called "The Zamboni Machine" in St. Louis for the way he sucked ground balls off the carpet. In both of his first two seasons, he led NL third basemen in fielding percentage (.974 in 1973 and '74), but captured his Gold Glove in 1975. His nine errors at third in 1977 were the fewest ever in the NL, and he bettered that mark by committing just eight miscues in 1980. A handsome figure with long, dark hair, Reitz was with the Cardinals from 1972 to 1980, except for 1976, which he spent in San Francisco. A consistent yet unspectacular hitter, in 1977 he smashed 17 homers, by far his greatest show of power.

Biography:
Kenneth John Reitz (born June 24, 1951 in San Francisco, California) is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball. A right-handed hitter, Reitz played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1972-75, 1977-80), San Francisco Giants (1976), Chicago Cubs (1981) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1982).

Nicknamed the "Zamboni" for his skill at scooping up ground balls on the artificial turf of Busch Memorial Stadium, Reitz, in his rookie season of 1973, replaced Joe Torre as the Cardinals’ starting third baseman. In both 1973 and 1974, he led all National League third basemen in fielding percentage. In 1975 he won a Gold Glove Award at the position, breaking Doug Rader’s streak of five consecutive Gold Gloves. In 1977 he set a National League record by committing only nine errors; he bettered that record by committing only eight in 1980. In this latter year, he also made his only All-Star appearance, where he started at third base in place of Mike Schmidt (who, after Reitz's Gold Glove season of 1975, would win the next nine).

Reitz was not known for his base running speed. This is reflected in one dubious Major League record. Reitz holds the record for most career plate appearances (5079) among non-catchers who finished their careers with fewer walks than times he grounded into a double play.

Offensively, while Reitz was not a flashy hitter, he was a consistent one, his hitting improving during his first few seasons. After batting .235 during his rookie season he batted below .250 only once over the next seven seasons. In each of his first five full seasons he increased his run batted in production: 42 in 1973, 54 in 1974, 63 in 1975, 66 in 1976 (his only season with his hometown Giants) and 79 in 1977. Reitz also established a career-high in home runs in 1977 with 17—the same number he had hit in his previous three seasons total.

In his career, Reitz batted .260 with 68 home runs and 548 RBIs in 1344 games played.

Reitz has a place in baseball history for one of the longest Major League games ever played. On September 11, 1974, against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, with the Cardinals trailing 3-1 with two out in the ninth, he hit a two-run home run off Jerry Koosman to send the game into extra innings. The score remained tied 3-3 until Bake McBride scored the winning run from first base on two Met errors in the top of the 25th inning.

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