Glenn Beckert passes away at age 79

April 12th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Glenn Beckert, who grew into a stalwart at second base for the Cubs during the late 1960s, passed away on Sunday morning in Florida. He was 79.

Over the course of nine seasons with the Cubs, Beckert was a four-time All-Star and one-time National League Gold Glove Award winner, earning a reputation as a tough out in the batter's box and a steady glove in the field. Over the past century, only Ryne Sandberg (13) and Billy Herman (10) had more Opening Day nods at second for Chicago than Beckert's eight.

"We lost a great one today," Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins wrote on Twitter. "Glenn was my friend, my Cubs teammate, and the best man at my wedding. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Beckert family."

In a statement released by the Cubs, the team called Beckert "a wonderful person who also happened to be an excellent ballplayer."

"Glenn more than held his own playing alongside future Hall of Famers," read the team's statement. "After his playing days concluded, Glenn was a familiar sight at Wrigley Field and numerous Cubs Conventions, and he always had a memory to share of his time on-and-off the field with his beloved teammates.

"We offer our deepest condolences to Glenn’s daughters, Tracy Seaman and Dana Starck, his longtime partner Marybruce Standley and his many, many friends."

That includes former Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who noted on Twitter that Beckert participated in Maddon's "Adopt-a-Legend" program in Port Charlotte, Fla. Maddon described Beckert as a "gentleman and friend," and noted that he enjoyed speaking with the former Cubs infielder about his low strikeout totals.

During the Cubs portion of Beckert's 11-year Major League career, he averaged 597 plate appearances and just 26 strikeouts per season. Beckert hit .283 with 194 doubles and 353 RBIs in his 1,247 games with Chicago, ending that near-decade with the Cubs with 248 walks compared to only 235 strikeouts.

Beckert was named to his four All-Star teams consecutively from 1969-72 and picked up his Gold Glove in '68, when he finished ninth in balloting for the NL MVP Award. In that '68 season, which was known as the Year of the Pitcher, Beckert led the Majors with 98 runs scored. He also compiled a 27-game hitting streak, which remains tied for the third-longest mark in club history.

On Aug. 19, 1969, Beckert gloved a grounder off the bat of legend Hank Aaron and fired it to first base to record the final out of lefty Ken Holtzman's no-hitter against the Braves.

The Cubs selected Beckert in the 1962 Minor League Draft from the Red Sox, and he made the transition to second base with ease, following years at shortstop and third at both the pro and amateur levels. He was born on Oct. 12, 1940, in Pittsburgh, where Beckert attended Perry High School. He later played for Allegheny College in Pennsylvania before turning pro.

"I like everything about that kid Beckert," former Cubs manager Leo Durocher said in a Chicago Sun-Times article in December 1965. "He’s got a fine chance to be one of the front-line stars in the game. He has good hands, a strong arm, and he gives the pitcher a real battle."

Soon, Beckert had a home in the Cubs' infield, alongside franchise icons Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.

Beckert was a fixture at second into the early 70s, emerging as a batting title contender in '71. That summer, Beckert hit at a .342 clip until a hand injury ended his season in early September. He finished third in the NL batting race behind Joe Torre and Ralph Garr. Right behind Beckert were Roberto Clemente and Aaron.

Following a long run with the Cubs, the team dealt Beckert to the Padres for outfielder Jerry Morales ahead of the 1974 campaign. Beckert had a pair of injury-marred seasons in San Diego before calling it a career. And while Beckert did not rise to the level of Hall of Famer, he will forever be remembered fondly for his stellar career with the Cubs.

"I wouldn't trade it for anything," Beckert said in the book Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Chicago Cubs, by Carrie Muskat. "I got to meet a lot of wonderful people. I belong to one of the nicest fraternities, playing in the Major Leagues.

"I'm not boasting or anything, but you talk and people said, 'You played in the big leagues?' It's good for an old guy's ego."