Kuiper's 1977 homer isn't the only one he ever hit. Just last month he got another off a former National Merit Scholar (honorable mention) in an exhibition game against Stanford. "It was the only time I'd ever seen anyone go deep when the third baseman was charging," says Krukow.
A local morning radio show began a " Kuiper Countdown" toward 2,000 consecutive at bats without a regular-season homer. His record then will be one tater in 3,382 times up. Boston's Jerry Remy has an even longer current string than Kuiper: 2,292 at bats since his last home run. But Remy ruined his bid for the record books by squirreling away seven before he went into home-run hibernation. Still, Remy's streak is the longest since Emil Verban's in the 1940s.
Kuiper is a natural resource for the collectors of baseball trivia. Twice, in 1979 and '81, he and his double-play partners have gone an entire season without hitting a homer. In 1980, his sixth year as the Indians' second baseman, he collided with Seattle's Tom Paciorek while turning the pivot and messed up his right knee. He was traded to the Giants before the '82 season, and he and Johnnie LeMaster became perhaps the only double-play combination to have the same birthday (June 19).
Kuiper also claims the unofficial lifetime mark for breaking up no-hitters. He got the lone singles in otherwise hitless games pitched by Andy Hassler (July 2, 1977), Nolan Ryan (May 5, 1978) and Ron Guidry (Sept. 24, 1978).
"Kipe's a disciplined hitter," says Krukow, who's quite a slugger himself, with three lifetime homers. "He's got only one thing in mind when he comes to the plate. He'll serve the ball over the third baseman's head, slap it through short, push a bunt, milk a walk, drag a bunt. If he went up there and free-hacked, he might have...two. But he still would never have more than me."
And Kuiper probably wouldn't have lasted another five minutes in the majors. "I do get envious when I see Reggie Jackson hit one out of Tiger Stadium and stand there watching it," he confesses. "My real good friends tell me not to try to hit another one. There's more notoriety in one than there is in two. One is better than none, but any more than that and people start expecting them."