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HARVEY KUENN, 1930-1988
Harvey Kuenn died on Sunday at the age of 57. A former infielder and outfielder, Kuenn finished his 15-year career in 1966 with a .303 average. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in '53 and the league's batting champion in '59 with a .353 average. He went from the Detroit Tigers to the Cleveland Indians on April 17, 1960, for reigning home run champ Rocky Colavito in one of the most talked-about trades ever. Later in life, when he was the batting coach of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kuenn underwent heart bypass surgery and suffered the loss of his right leg due to a circulation problem. Despite those difficulties, he was asked to manage the Brewers in June of '82, and he promptly led "Harvey's Wallbangers" into the World Series.
Kuenn, born in Milwaukee, was a working man's ballplayer and manager. He and his second wife, Audrey, used to run a tavern-boardinghouse called Cesar's Inn, which was located two miles from County Stadium. The joint was jumping in the fall of 1982. You could walk in, drink a beer with centerfielder Gorman Thomas and wave to Harvey through the top half of the Dutch door that led from the taproom to the Kuenns' five-room apartment.
Upon hearing of Kuenn's death, Roger Angell, the baseball writer for The New Yorker, recalled the scene at Cesar's: "It was a great place. Harvey would discuss his choice for starting pitcher with some of the patrons, and then he'd be off to manage a game in the World Series. Audrey stayed behind to talk baseball. She was a great fan, but she had never seen Harvey in his playing days. She once asked me what he was like as a player, and I described the way he hit line drives all over the field, and the way he always ran hard to first, his batting helmet bobbing on his head. When I finished, Audrey said, 'He must have been something.' He was."
MAKING A PITCH
The following ad appeared under POSITION WANTED among the Feb. 23-25 classifieds in USA Today: HAVE FASTBALL WILL TRAVEL. UNEMPLOYED RH RELIEVER SEEKS OPP. TO SHOW HE STILL HAS WHAT IT TAKES. 4� YEARS MLS. PETE LADD.
Ladd also supplied a Milwaukee phone number, but as of Monday he hadn't received any calls from major league teams. Ladd, who pitched for Kuenn in the '82 Series and saved 25 games for the Brewers in 1983, spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple A team in Albuquerque, where he was 4-2 with a 6.42 ERA and four saves. He underwent right-shoulder surgery in the off-season, but Ladd says his arm and fastball are now 100%.
His ad was an unorthodox approach to finding major league employment, but then Ladd has always done things differently. For five off-seasons he was a corrections officer in Maine. He spent this winter rehabilitating his shoulder and hunting for a pitching job. "I've got nothing to lose," says Ladd, who paid $270 for the three-day ad. "I just want one more opportunity, and I feel great. My agent, Davis Burke, called almost every club but had no luck. I figure things might loosen up once spring training starts and teams realize they don't have enough pitching. I want them to know I'm still out there."
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