Alston, Kell, Marichal, Robinson enter as Class of 1983
The stage was set. Finality had been reached for four great careers. A sense that, for these four men, while their baseball days were long gone, they would always be remembered for their outstanding achievements in the game that each one of them loved so much.
The 1983 Induction Ceremony saw four legends – Brooks Robinson, Juan Marichal, Walter Alston and George Kell – inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 31, 1983. Two third basemen, a pitcher and a manager made up the Class of 1983.
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Brooks Robinson received 92 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Robinson played all 23 of his major league seasons at the hot corner for the Baltimore Orioles.
Known as “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” for his incredible defensive plays, Robinson was an 18-time American League All-Star and won 16 Gold Glove Awards for his stellar work with the mitt at third base.
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“You get kind of tired saying he’s great. The ball is hit, he reacts,” said former Orioles teammate Boog Powell. “His ability is to move five feet, one way or another, faster than anybody. He doesn’t anticipate. He plays the balls. The ball is hit, he reacts. He can’t think. He just does it.”
Robinson was an integral part of two world championship teams in Baltimore – 1966 and 1970. In the 1970 World Series that the Orioles won in five games over the Cincinnati Reds, Robinson hit .429, smashing two long balls and totaling six RBI – good enough to earn World Series Most Valuable Player honors. But it was his play at third base – including robbing Lee May of a sure double by ranging far into foul territory – that cemented Robinson’s legend.
The lifetime Baltimore Oriole won the AL MVP in 1964, when he batted .317, with 28 home runs and 118 runs batted in.
“[I] saw him perform all during his career and – like everyone else – marveled at the way he played the game,” former Baltimore general manager Hank Peters said. “Brooks will always be the yardstick by which third basemen are gauged, and that’s the mark of a true champion.”
Ten-time All-Star pitcher Juan Marichal appeared on 83.7 percent of the ballots in his third year of eligibility to earn entrance in the Hall of Fame in 1983 as well.
Marichal pitched 16 years in the majors – 14 with the San Francisco Giants –compiling a 2.89 ERA and a 243-142 record over his career. “The Dominican Dandy” recorded 52 shutouts and to date is the only Dominican-born player in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
During his induction speech, Marichal reached out to all the Dominican people in the audience, as he delivered much of his speech in Spanish.
“I wish to give special thanks to those who are with me here today from the Dominican Republic,” Marichal said. “I know that many of them have made great sacrifices to be here with us on such a special day.”
“The Dominican Dandy” never forgot his roots. After his playing days were over, Marichal was selected to be the minister of sports back home in the Dominican Republic.
Former MLB pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez points out the love that Juan Marichal had for his home was a two-way street. “When I went to high school, he was in the (history) books. Everyone talked about Juan Marichal.”
Two baseball greats were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 from the Veterans Committee: Former manager Walter Alston and third baseman George Kell.
Alston managed the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers club from 1954 to 1976. His teams won four world championships, while he was honored with Manager of the Year six times. In 23 seasons, his teams racked up 2,040 wins.
“Smokey” – as he was known because of the heat of his fastball in high school – was always known as a player’s manager.
“His legacy is unspoiled by anything petty. I can’t think of anyone ever holding a grudge against Walt,” former pitcher Don Drysdale raved about his manager. “People got mad, got traded away, but when everyone sat back they realized what he was trying to do. If you couldn’t play for Walt, you couldn’t play for anybody.”
George Kell starred at third base a generation before Brooks Robinson, playing for five teams in his 15-year career, most famously for the Detroit Tigers.
Kell was traded to Detroit during the 1946 season, and starting in 1947 Kell made six straight trips to the All-Star Game.
Arguably Kell’s best year came while he was a Tiger. In 1950, he carried a batting average of .340 and drove in 101 runs, while scoring 114 runs as well, placing him fourth in the AL MVP balloting.
Overall, Kell registered nine years with a .300 batting average or better and his career average was .306. He ended his career with 2,054 hits.
Upon entering the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery Kell fell into utter amazement when thinking about the company he had just joined, “I’m in awe of it. It immortalizes you. It puts you next to the people you don’t belong next to.”
Andrew Kivette was the 2013 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development