#CardCorner: 1951 Bowman Charlie Keller
Williams, for instance, had seven full seasons – each one that he played – of at least a .400 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. And Musial had five such campaigns.
Other future Hall of Famers, like Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Johnny Mize and Ralph Kiner had two similar campaigns.
But the player who ranked third on that list with four seasons of a .400 OBP and .500 slugging percentage was a Yankees hero whose career was limited to six full seasons due to wartime service and injuries.
His name was Charlie Keller.
Born Sept. 12, 1916, in Middletown, Md. – about 55 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. – Keller was raised on a farm and excelled as a high school athlete. He earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Maryland following his high school graduation in 1933.
By 1935, he was starring for the Terrapins on the diamond as an outfielder before moving to shortstop the following season.
“I have seen many fine players in my time,” umpire Ed Brockman told the Baltimore Sun in 1935. “But Charlie Keller, University of Maryland center fielder, is by far the most promising I have come across in a long time.”
Keller, who hit .500 during his sophomore season at Maryland, also played for the Terrapins’ football and basketball teams. But baseball was his destiny – and the Yankees signed him to a contract worth a reported $2,500 following his 1936 season, agreeing to let him join the organization after he graduated.
Following his retirement, Keller bred trotting horses as his Maryland farm, Yankeeland, earning a reputation as one of the best in the business. All his horses included some form of the word “Yankee”.
“Everybody knew Charlie Keller was a great ballplayer,” Henrich told the New York Daily News following Keller’s passing on May 23, 1990. “But he was a lot more than that. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy.
“Charlie Keller personified what the Yankees used to stand for.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum