Thursday, February 26, 2009

#549 Cubs Rookie Stars: Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert

Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert by you.
While Roberto Pena looks like a mean dude, he's got nothing on the mysterious Glenn Beckert, who is cloaked in shadows even on a sunny Spring day. Together...they fight crime.

Fun facts about Roberto Pena:

-A shortstop from the Dominican Republic, he signed with the Pirates in 1960.

-After five seasons in the Pittsburgh system, he was sent to the Cubs, where he made his major league debut in 1965 at age 28.

-Went 3-for-6 with a double, a home run (off of Bob Gibson!) and 3 RBI in his first big league game, an Opening Day tilt with the Cardinals that was called after eleven innings due to darkness with the teams tied at 10. Unfortunately, the rookie also committed three errors in seven chances.

-Hit only 13 career home runs, and only touched up one pitcher for two moon shots: Steve Carlton.

-Had a breakthrough year in 1968, playing 138 games and hitting a personal best .260, though he showed little power or patience.

-On May 30, 1970, hit an inside-the-park grand slam to help his new team, the Brewers, beat the Tigers by a score of 9-7.

-At the end of the 1970 season, Pena had a career-high 20 doubles and 45 RBI, and led American League shortstops with a .979 fielding percentage.

-Only played one more season after his solid 1970 effort, batting .237 with the Brewers in 1971.

-Unfortunately, Roberto died at age 45 of an accidental alcohol overdose.

Fun facts about Glenn Beckert:

-Pittsburgher Glenn Beckert was originally signed by the Red Sox in 1962 out of Alleghany College. He is the only "Gator" position player to ever reach the major leagues.

-Switched from shortstop to second base in the minors following the tragic death of Cubs 2B Ken Hubbs. Soon earned the nickname Bruno (as in WWWF wrestler Bruno Sammartino) for his willingness to knock over teammates in pursuit of pop-ups.

-Won the Cubs' second base job in 1965 and held onto it for nine years, playing alongside keystone partner Don Kessinger for much of the time. Led the National League in assists as a rookie.

-After hitting only .239 in his first season, Glenn hit .280 or better for six straight seasons, peaking at .342 in 1971 (third in the N.L.).

-Was the hardest batter in the league to strike out in five different seasons, and whiffed only 20 times in 1968.

-Speaking of 1968, that year Beckert led the Senior Circuit in runs with 98, making him the first league leader since the Dead-Ball Era to fall below 100. He also won his only Gold Glove in a career in which he was overshadowed by contemporaries Bill Mazeroski and Joe Morgan.

-Made four consecutive All-Star teams, 1969-1972.

-On June 3, 1971, hit an RBI single to drive in Ken Holtzman with the only run in the latter's 1-0 no-hit victory vs. the Reds.

-Various leg injuries shortened his career, which drew to a close with the Padres in early 1975.

-He later worked for the Chicago Board of Trade before returning home to Pittsburgh.
Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert (back) by you.


  1. Beckert's part of the card back refers to him being a "strong-armed outfielder" but I've seen the same thing you have, namely that he switched from short to second in the minors in 1964.

  2. Mmayes - How odd is that? The card even lists his position as 2B.