Ron Kittle

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Ronald Dale Kittle

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Biographical Information[edit]

Ron Kittle, the low-average bespectacled slugger who hit 176 homers in a 10-year major league career, was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1983.

He was born in Gary, IN, in the Chicago area, a fact that was to help make him a favorite of Chicago White Sox fans when he played for the White Sox, which he did three times in his career.

Signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, he did not impress in their minor league organization in 1977 and 1978. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 1978 and was in a neck brace for four months. The Dodgers released him as a result. He became a construction worker, and after succeeding in a tryout, spent 1979 to 1982 in the minors in the White Sox organization.

He achieved a breakthrough in 1981 with the Glens Falls White Sox in the Double A Eastern League when he hit 40 home runs and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. He then followed that up in 1982 with the Edmonton Trappers in the Triple A Pacific Coast League when he hit 50 home runs, with a .752 slugging percentage. As of 2015, no minor league player has matched the 50 HR mark since Kittle except in the Mexican League. He came up to the White Sox for 20 games at the end of 1982. He was named Minor League Player of the Year by both The Sporting News and Baseball America after his 1982 season with Edmonton.

1983 was a wonderful year for Kittle, as he not only won the Rookie of the Year Award, but also was third in the American League in home runs, an All-Star, and a member of a division-winning team that won 99 games. However, he also led the league in strikeouts. He hit 35 homers that season, which was the White Sox team record for rookies until Jose Abreu came along in 2014. Teammates on the 1983 Chicago White Sox included Greg Luzinski, Harold Baines, and Carlton Fisk. The season came to an end when the Sox bowed out to the Baltimore Orioles in four games in the 1983 ALCS; Kittle went 2 for 7 with a double in what was the only postseason action of his career.

In 1984, Kittle followed up with 32 home runs, but only hit .215. After one and a half more seasons of good power but low averages (and a shoulder injury), he was traded to the New York Yankees before the 1986 season, something which was not too popular with White Sox fans. He spent two seasons with the Bronx Bombers; teammates with the Yankees included Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly, and Dave Winfield. He spent a lot of time on the disabled list during that period, and after the 1987 season, he was released.

Although he had started out as an outfielder, his fielding ability was not tremendous, and later in his career he spent much time at DH and first base.

He was with the Cleveland Indians in 1988 (teammates included Joe Carter), and after the season became a free agent. He signed with the White Sox. In 1989, he turned in an excellent performance in 51 games, hitting .302/.378/.556, but again spent much of the season on the disabled list. Fisk and Baines were still with the White Sox that year, and Ozzie Guillen had joined the team before Ron left the first time.

In 1990, although he had hit 16 home runs in 83 games, he was traded on July 30th to the Baltimore Orioles. He was expendable because the White Sox had a power-hitting young first baseman in the minors named Frank Thomas, and Thomas made his debut with the White Sox three days after the trade, on August 2nd. During his tenure for the Pale Hose, Kittle was a Sox fan favorite; he hit more home runs off Bert Blyleven than anyone else. He was also a streaky hitter and spent more time at the top of "Beckett Baseball"'s Cold List than any other player.

Kittle played 22 games with the Orioles in 1990, and then became a free agent again after the season. The Cleveland Indians signed him again, but released him before the 1991 season started. He caught on with the White Sox for a third time, and played 17 games with them in 1991 to end his career before being released on August 15th.

After his playing days, Kittle became a manager with the Merrillville Mud Dogs and Schaumburg Flyers. Kittle founded Indiana Sports Charities in 1989 and still serves as the Chairman.

The most similar players to Kittle, based on the similarity scores method, are Steve Balboni, his teammate Bo Jackson, and Jim Gentile. He hit 176 home runs in his career, but not one of them was a grand slam. In baseball history, only one other player - his contemporary Glenn Davis - has hit more home runs without a grand slam; Davis tallied 190 homers.

He and writer Bob Logan published Ron Kittle's Tales from the White Sox Dugout in 2005.

Notable Achievements[edit]

AL Rookie of the Year
1982 1983 1984
Cal Ripken Ron Kittle Alvin Davis

Related Sites[edit]