Kasko in 1958.
|Shortstop / Third baseman / Manager|
June 27, 1932 |
Linden, New Jersey
|April 18, 1957, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 10, 1966, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||261|
|Career highlights and awards|
Standout defensive player and contact hitter
A standout defensive player as a shortstop and third baseman, Kasko's professional career began in 1949. He played for ten MLB seasons (1957–66) with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox. He led National League third basemen in fielding percentage in 1960 and NL shortstops in that category four years later.
Kasko was a right-handed batter who stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg). He lacked home run power but was a good contact hitter. His career batting average was .264 in 1,077 games and 3,546 at bats. His 935 Major League hits included 146 doubles and 13 triples, as well as 22 home runs. Selected to the 1961 National League All-Star team, he appeared in that year's second all-star classic, played July 31 at Fenway Park. In the contest, a 1–1 tie shortened by rain, Kasko replaced starter Maury Wills at shortstop in the fourth inning, and singled off Don Schwall of the Red Sox in the sixth frame to help the Senior Circuit score the tying run. Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks pinch-hit for Kasko in the eighth inning and replaced him in the field.
Kasko appeared in one World Series—also in 1961, with Cincinnati. He started all five games at shortstop, led the Reds with seven hits (all singles), scored one run, and batted .319. Defensively, he made one error in 27 chances in the field and participated in five double plays. But the Reds were defeated by the New York Yankees.
After the 1966 season, his only campaign with Boston, Kasko retired as an active player and managed the Red Sox' Triple-A clubs, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Louisville Colonels, from 1967 to 1969. He succeeded the popular Dick Williams as Red Sox manager in 1970, and guided the club through four seasons, with mixed results. The Red Sox finished above the .500 mark each season, but only contended in 1972 when they finished a half-game out of first place, behind the Detroit Tigers, in the American League East Division. The half-game differential was partly due to the brief players' strike that spring: between six and eight games were lopped off each club's schedule and it was agreed that lost games would not be "made up" to resolve pennant races.
During Kasko's four-year managerial term, he incorporated young players such as Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans into the Red Sox lineup, converted relief pitcher Bill Lee into a successful starter, and showed patience with sore-armed veteran Luis Tiant as he returned to form as a dominant pitcher. But when the 1973 Red Sox again could not measure up to the powerful Baltimore Orioles of the era, Kasko was relieved of his managerial duties. His final record with Boston, over four seasons, was 345–295 (.539).
Kasko remained with the Red Sox for another two decades, however, as a scout (1974–77), director of scouting (1977–92) and vice president, baseball development (1992–94). He was named to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2010.
- The Baseball Encyclopedia, Macmillan Books, 10th edition.