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Ken Hubbs
Second baseman
Born: December 23, 1941(1941-12-23)
Riverside, California
Died: February 13, 1964 (aged 22)
Provo, Utah
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 10, 1961 for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1963 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Batting average     .247
Home runs     14
Runs scored     148
Career highlights and awards

Kenneth Douglass Hubbs (December 23, 1941 - February 13, 1964) was an American second baseman who played from 1961 to 1963 for the Chicago Cubs in the National League. He was killed in a plane crash near Provo, Utah prior to the 1964 season.

In his short big-league career, Hubbs was considered to be an excellent fielder but a poor hitter.[1] In 1962, he became the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award, and set several fielding records. Those achievements helped him win the MLB Rookie of the Year Award that season.[2] At the time of his death, Hubbs was considered to be one of the best second basemen in the game.[3]


Early life

Hubbs was born in Riverside, California and resided in nearby Colton, California.

He played in the 1954 Little League World Series.[4] Colton represented California. They beat Virginia in the first round and Illinois in the second. In the final game of the Series, Schenectady, New York beat California 5-3.[5] Two future big league players played on the Schenectady team: Jim Barbieri, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Bill Connors, with the Chicago Cubs, both in 1966. Highlights of Hubbs playing defense at second base were captured on film[6]. The video includes a play where Hubbs ran from the shortstop position to back up the second baseman and caught a bloop fly into short right field.

He signed as an amateur free agent with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1959 season. The Cubs sent him to the Appalachian League, where he started his professional career.

Major League career

During the 1961 season, the Cubs positioned Don Zimmer and Jerry Kindall at second base. Both were having poor seasons offensively. While Zimmer made the Major League Baseball All-Star team that year, he only hit .252 while Kindall hit .242.[7] Hubbs was called up from the Minor Leagues in an attempt to solve the Cubs' difficulties at second base. He entered the Cubs lineup on September 10, 1961 in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He had three at-bats, gaining two hits and one run batted in in a 12-5 Cubs loss.[8] He played in ten games in his debut season, making five hits in 26 at bats, and one home run.[7]

The New York Mets drafted Zimmer in the 1961 expansion draft, and Cubs traded away Kindall, leaving Hubbs as the starting second baseman for the ninth-place Chicago in 1962. Hubbs played in 160 games for the season, getting 172 hits with five home runs and 49 runs batted in.[9] He led all National League rookies in games, hits, doubles, triples, runs, and batting average.[10] He was named the Rookie of the Year, earning 19 out of 20 votes and becoming the second consecutive Cubs player to win the award after Billy Williams. As a fielder, he set records with 78 consecutive games and 418 total chances without making an error, breaking Bobby Doerr's Major League Baseball records.[3] His performances saw him become the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award. He also led the league in two less desirable categories that season by striking out 129 times and grounding into 20 double plays.[9] His prime achievement as a fielder came on September 30, when he started a triple play in the final game of the season against the Mets.[11] He did not do so well at the plate. He hit .260, and led the National League in strikeouts with 129.[12]

In the 1963 season, Hubbs played in 155 games, earning a career low .235 batting average with eight home runs and 47 runs batted in.[9] His fielding helped the Cubs to achieve an 82-80 record.[3]


Hubbs had a fear of flying, which he decided to overcome by taking flying lessons.[1] He took the lessons during the off season between the 1963 and 1964 Major League Baseball seasons. He received his pilot's license in January of 1964. Hubbs' long time friend, Dennis Doyle, was a new father in February of 1964. Doyle's wife had taken the train from Colton, CA to Provo, Utah to spend time with her parents and their new grand child. Hubbs and Doyle set out to surprise Doyle's wife with a one day trip to Provo on February 12. While in Provo, the pair decided to stay the night and return to Colton the next day. Hubbs played in a charity basketball game that night. [13][14]

A storm arrived in the Utah Valley the morning of February 13. Hubbs thought he could beat the storm and decided to attempt the return flight. Hubbs and Doyle took off in a red and white Cessna 172 from Provo Airport, which sits on the edge of Utah Lake. Hubbs did not file a flight plan but told staff at Provo Airport that the pair were heading for Morrow field near Colton, California.[2] Euliss Hubbs, Ken's father, reported that they had not arrived in Colton by Friday, February 14. A search began Saturday morning in areas of Utah, Nevada and California along a route the pair might have used.

Utah's civil aeronautics director, Harlon Bement, noted there had been no record of radio contact with Hubbs after takeoff, adding, "This means the plane could be fairly close."[15] Rescuers found the plane's wreckage a quarter mile south of Bird Island in Utah Lake. The weather outside was estimated as -1 F, and it had been snowing heavily.[3] Hubbs' funeral was held several days later in his hometown of Colton. Services were held in a Colton high school because of the huge crowd that wanted to view Hubbs' casket. Fellow Cubs teammates Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Glen Hobbie and Don Elston were among the pallbearers.[3] Hubbs' uniform number 16 was never retired by the Cubs, but it was kept out of circulation for about three years before being issued to another player.

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ a b Rob Neyer. Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups. Simon and Schuster. p. 48. ISBN 0743241746.  
  2. ^ a b "Cubs Star Killed in Utah Air Crash". New York Times. 1964-02-16. Retrieved 2007-08-02.  
  3. ^ a b c d e Peter Golenbock. Wrigleyville, A Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs. St. Martin's Press. p. 382. ISBN 0312156995.  
  4. ^ Team roster
  5. ^ LLWS scores 1954
  6. ^ Film of '54 Colton LL team found, by John Murphy, The Sun, (San Bernardino, CA), August 15, 2004
  7. ^ a b "1962 Chicago Cubs stats in Baseball-Reference". Retrieved 2007-08-02.  
  8. ^ "Cubs-Phillies game stats in Baseball-Reference". Retrieved 2007-08-02.  
  9. ^ a b c "Ken Hubbs stats in Baseball-Reference". Retrieved 2007-08-02.  
  10. ^ David Nemec. The Baseball Rookies Encyclopedia. Brassey's Inc.. p. 230. ISBN 1574886703.  
  11. ^ Peter Golenbock. Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team. St. Martin's Press. p. 137. ISBN 0312309929.  
  12. ^ Sports Illustrated, March 18, 1963.
  13. ^ Snyder, John. Cubs Journal: Year by Year and Day by Day with the Chicago Cubs Since 1876 (Emmis Books): 424. ISBN 1578601924.  
  14. ^ Famous Mormons in Baseball Page 2
  15. ^,-ut-baseball-star-ken-hubbs-killed-plane-crash,-feb.-1964

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