Ken Reitz, ‘Zamboni’ at third base for St. Louis Cardinals, passes away. Zachary Silver. April 1st, 2021.

Ken Reitz, an 11-year career major league all-star player who spent most of his career in St. Louis and was nicknamed “Zamboni” for his mastery of third base to handle ground balls on Busch’s artificial grass. Stadium, passed away this Wednesday, March 31 at the age of 69.

“On behalf of my dad and my family I would like to thank the Cardinals organization for allowing my father to live his dream,” said his son Brett Reitz in a statement shared by the team. “Also to the Cardinals fans for their endless support throughout the years. The only thing my dad loved as much as his family was baseball. He ate, slept, and breathed baseball, and he truly loved the city of San Luis and the Cardinals. The loss of ‘Grandpa Kenny’ as his six grandchildren called him, is heartbreaking. We will miss him very much. “

The Dale City, Calif., Native (June 24, 1951), was a stronghold of the field for eight years in the Cardinals organization and remained in contact with her after his active playing career. Reitz made his major league debut in 1972 and became Joe Torre’s full-time replacement in 1973 when the future Hall of Fame manager moved to the opposite corner of the infield, first base.

Reitz was honored for his defense, becoming the first NL third baseman to break the 150-game third base line and commit fewer than ten errors in a season – he did that twice, first in 1977 when he incurred only nine ivories in 157 games and again in 1980 when he fumbled eight times (151 games).

Both campaigns occurred after Reitz had won the Golden Glove in 1975, while making up an infield that included 21-year-old Keith Hernandez (before any of his 11 Golden Gloves) and Hall of Fame tenant Ted. Simmons, behind the plate.

Reitz led the NL third basemen in fielding percentage six times during the nine seasons spanning 1973-1981, including his final moment with the Cubs in 1981. He probably would have won more gold gloves had he not played in the same time as Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame tenant Mike Schmidt.

Reitz was honored by being voted the starting third baseman of the 1980 all-star game, after hitting .282 in the first half of the season. He went 2-0 in the game and finished the year with a .679 OPS.

He was very passionate about his defense. After a night off, Reitz made two mistakes in one game. He then proceeded to dip his glove in fuel and set it on fire, telling that story to a group of St. Louis high school students while opening a tournament at Alton (Ill.) High School, according to local newspaper AdVantage News.

He was selected in the 31st round of the 1969 draft at Jefferson High School, Dale City. Reitz played the first four seasons of his career with St. Louis, was traded to the Giants from his hometown on December 9, 1975, and then returned to the Cardinals almost exactly one year later, on December 10, 1976.

Those nomadic days of early December continued when on December 9, 1980, Reitz was part of the package the Cardinals sent to the Chicago Cubs for future Hall of Fame tenant closer Bruce Sutter, one of the most shocking changes. in Cardinals history. Reitz would play one season with the Cubs and another with the Pirates before re-signing with the Cardinals in July 1983, although he was limited to the minor leagues. Reitz would play three more minor league seasons, one with the AA Rangers affiliate team in 1985 and two more for the San Jose independents Bees in 1986-1987.

Reitz appeared in 1,344 major league games, 1,100 of which were with the Cardinals, while hitting .260 with 541 RBIs. In total, his professional career spanned up to 2,008 games. He participated in more than 11,000 innings on the field as a major league.

Translation: Alfonso L. Tusa C. April 4, 2021.