Thursday, June 18, 2009

#148 Willie Kirkland

#148 Willie Kirkland
While your eye may be drawn to Willie Kirkland's oversized warmup jacket collar or his "What are YOU lookin' at?" glower, I choose to focus on the toothpick hanging from the right side of his mouth. He clearly paved the way for U. L. Washington. A true barrier-breaker.

Fun facts about Willie Kirkland:

-A player with roots in Siluria, AL, Willie signed with the Giants in 1953.

-Compiled averages between .293 and .350 in four seasons in the minors with 142 home runs.

-After serving in the military in 1957, made the Giants' Opening Day roster the following year. Hit .258 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI, as well as 25 doubles (a career high).

-Was known as a skilled outfielder, twice leading the league in double plays by a flycatcher (1958 and 1961).

-Popped 22 home runs in 1959 and 21 in 1960, and batted a personal-best .272 in the former season. Also tripled 10 times in 1960.

-With Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, and Leon Wagner all elbowing their way into the Giants' lineup, Kirkland was traded to the Indians after three seasons by the Bay.

-In his first year with the Tribe, Willie led the club with 27 home runs and 95 RBI.

-Tied a major league record with home runs in four straight at-bats

-With his production dropping sharply in 1962-1963, he was moved first to the Orioles and soon thereafter to the Senators. He hit .240 in nine seasons in the majors with 148 home runs before heading to Japan, where he spent six more years with the Hanshin Tigers.

-Willie adapted to the Land of the Rising Sun better than most American players, hitting 126 homers and learning to speak Japanese. He even married a Japanese woman!
#148 Willie Kirkland (back)


  1. Kevin, I just want to thank you for putting together this site on the 1965 set. That was the 1st year I started collecting cards as a kid and, in my estimation in looking at all the sets Topps produced over the many years, it was by far their best effort. There was something about the pennant image with the color lay-out and photos that really made the '65 set "pop", along with the cartoon on the back. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks Anon.! I definitely set out to collect it because I find it one of the best designs of the vintage years (I'm also a big fan of the 1963 design).