Former big-league infielder Glenn Beckert, who played in parts of 11 seasons (nine with the Chicago Cubs), died Sunday. He was 79 years old.
During Beckert's time with the Cubs, he formed a friendship with Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins. Beckert was even the best man at Jenkins' wedding. Jenkins tweeted about Beckert on Sunday, saying that the world "lost a great one today."
Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox, Beckert ended up with the Cubs as part of a minor-league draft in the winter of 1962. He later became their second baseman in 1965, just over a year after Ken Hubbs (the 1962 Rookie of the Year) died in a plane crash. Beckert would remain a fixture in the Cubs lineup until he was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1973.
Beckert finished his career with a high average (.283), but had light on-base and slugging percentages (.318/.345). Nonetheless, he enjoyed a good deal of success thanks to a keen feel for contact (he finished with more walks than strikeouts, and fanned in just four percent of his plate appearances) and a well-regarded glove at second base.
Beckert won the 1968 Gold Glove Award, and made four All-Star Games during the '60s, including the 1969 affair that included an all-Cubs infield: catcher Randy Hundley, first baseman Ernie Banks, Beckert, third baseman Ron Santo, and shortstop Don Kessigner. Beckert would even earn consideration for the Most Valuable Player Award on three occasions.
"Glenn Beckert was a wonderful person who also happened to be an excellent ballplayer," the Cubs said in a statement. "He was a mainstay at second base for the Cubs for nine seasons from 1965-73, earning a spot on four All-Star teams and a reputation for one of the toughest at-bats in the league as evidenced by his low strikeout rate. Glenn more than held his own playing alongside future Hall of Famers and won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence at second base in 1968."
Bill James named Beckert the 64th best second baseman of all time in The New Historical Abstract. At present, he ranks 123rd in career Wins Above Replacement by players who were primarily second basemen, according to Baseball Reference.