Some MLB careers don’t last long enough.
Pitcher Jim Kaat doesn’t have one of those careers.
He played 25 seasons in Major League Baseball. Yes, you read that right. A quarter of a century he was playing MLB baseball. And yet, with all of his accomplishments, he is another… you guessed it… Hall of Fame snub. So, today on The Cooperstown case, we will be looking at Kaat’s Hall of Fame case.
Kaat made his debut on August 2nd, 1959 for the Washington Senators (now known as the Minnesota Twins). He became a full-fledged starter in 1961 when the Senators moved to Minnesota, becoming the Twins.
“I took Washington’s offer because I wanted an opportunity,” Kaat said of the start of his pro career.
A few years into his career, he helped lead the Twins to the 1965 World Series by posting an 18-11 record, then started Games 2, 5 and 7 of the Series against the Dodgers, going 1-2 with a 3.77 ERA as Minnesota fell in seven games.
It was the following year that Kaat had his best season in his long career. He went 25-13, leading the American League in complete games (19) and innings pitched (304.2) en route to a fifth-place finish in the AL Most Valuable Player Award vote. In 1967, Kaat went 16-13, nearly leading the Twins to another trip to the World Series, but ultimately falling just short.
After leaving the Twins, the veteran found success with the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, and joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980.
In 1982, Kaat, having been a relief pitcher for years by this point, went 5-3 with two saves to help the Cardinals win the World Series.
He retired after the 1983 season, and afterwards embarked on a long-tenured career as a professional broadcaster.
His final career totals: 283 wins (31st all-time) against 237 losses, including a 3.45 ERA, 625 games started (17th all-time) and 180 complete games. He was also named to three All-Star teams.
During his 25-year career, he set a 20th Century record by playing during the administrations of seven U.S. Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jr., Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan also reached this mark in 1993, the first year of the administration of Bill Clinton.
Kaat has appeared on the ballot, and last year fell just two votes short of being inducted into Cooperstown, proving there is a lot of attention being given to him. So, should “Kitty” be inducted, and does he have a strong case?
Feel free to discuss below, and tune in next week for another episode of The Cooperstown case.