Thursday, September 16, 2010

#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson

#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson
Wow, believe it or not, it's been three months since the last Rookie Stars card was featured on this blog! This may not be one of the more high-profile rookie cards in the set, but I guarantee that you'll learn something interesting about Ken and Joel by the end of this post.*

*=Not a guarantee.

Fun facts about Ken Berry:

-A Kansas Citian by birth, Ken attended Wichita State University before signing with the White Sox in 1961.

-He debuted in Chicago at age 21, receiving cups of coffee in 1962, 1963, and 1964.

-In his first full season in the majors (1965), he became the Sox' starting center fielder. Although he hit only .218, he swatted a career-high 12 home runs.

-Berry made the All-Star team in 1967, likely on the strength of his 20-game hitting streak that stretched from late May through mid-June.

-He was regarded as an excellent defensive center fielder, and won Gold Gloves in 1970 and 1972. He led the American League in fielding percentage four times in a five-year span, twice turning in errorless seasons. Most people take that statistic with a grain of salt, but Ken also performed well in more advanced defensive measures like range factor and total zone runs. He had a strong arm as well, and led the A.L. with 13 outfield assists in 1972.

-Following a November 1970 trade, he spent three seasons with the Angels. In 1972 he hit a personal-best .289 in addition to winning his second Gold Glove.

-Ken finished his career with a year of part-time duty in Milwaukee and a few months in Cleveland, retiring in 1975 with a career batting average of .255 in parts of 14 seasons. He totaled 58 home runs and 343 RBI.

-He founded the Ken Berry League in Topeka, KS, a Little League baseball and softball organization.

-In 1988, Ken served as a baseball consultant on the set of the film Eight Men Out, and had a bit part as a fan.

-Berry has managed in the Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Padres, and Mets organizations, and piloted Chicago's AA Birmingham Barons to the Southern League championship in 1989. That team included future major leaguers such as Robin Ventura, Wilson Alvarez, and Buddy Groom. He's also been a minor league coach for the Mets and Brewers.

Fun facts about Joel Gibson:

-This is going to be a short one, as Joel never did make it to the big leagues.

-Joel was born in Gastonia, NC, and was signed by the Phillies in 1961 after attending Wilmington (NC) College and North Carolina State.

-His best year in the minors was 1962, when he went 12-11 with a 2.91 ERA, 186 strikeouts, and 12 complete games. He split the year between class A Williamsport and AAA Buffalo, and was 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA for Williamsport.

-The following year, Gibson had been touted for the fourth slot in the Phillies' major-league rotation until a one-car accident in January 1963 sidelined him with a compound fracture in his left arm.

-The White Sox acquired him in late 1964 in a trade that sent Rudy May to the Phils, and intended to keep him on the major league roster. Sadly, he suffered a broken bone in his right wrist as a result of a line drive by catcher J.C. Martin.

-Joel pitched in just 22 games over two seasons for their AA Lynchburg and AAA Indianapolis clubs. He balked when Chicago tried to demote him and move him to the bullpen. His career was over in 1966, at which time he was only 26 years old.

-In five minor league seasons Joel was 33-30 with a 3.75 ERA.

-After baseball, Gibson went to work for Piedmont Airlines in North Carolina and also took up golf.
#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson (back)


  1. Joel Gibson is rare in that he was on rookie card but never appeared in a MLB game. Most players on rookie card appear at least once in a MLB game. I reviewed a sample of an estimated 150 rookie and only found 3 players who likewise had a card and didn't play in the bigs.

  2. Ken Berry's namesake played Sam Jones in the 1960s sitcom "Mayberry RFD" which was a brief spinoff from the "Andy Griffith Show." I'm not sure which of the Ken Berrys was the better known.

  3. holste42 - Yeah, you'll occasionally find a player on an old Topps card who never made it (Steve Dalkowski being one of the most famous), but it's pretty rare. Of course, it became more frequent when the rookie craze blew up in the 1980s-early 2000s and you started getting draft pick cards and all of that other nonsense.

    Marc - The actor shows up first on Google, for what that's worth.

  4. Joel Gibson? Just another example of the Phillies signing the wrong brother:

    Joel (not Bob) Gibson*
    Mike (not Greg) Maddux
    Mark (not Al) Leiter
    Jeremy (not Jason) Giambi
    Bill (not Frank) Robinson*
    Dom (not Joe) DiMaggio

    * Not brothers, but why get in the way of a good story?

  5. Jim - At least you had the better of the two Mimbs brothers!