June 23 – Happy Birthday Eddie Kuczek

photo_012420_2749454_1_photo1_cropped_20141009.jpgxIt wasn’t surprising that a future Major League ballplayer like Steve Kuczek could average .536 during Amsterdam High School’s 1941 varsity baseball season and help extend the team’s winning streak to 13 straight games. But the shortstop wasn’t even the best player on that squad. That honor went to his older brother and today’s Amsterdam Birthday celebrant, Eddie Kuczek. It was Eddie who led the team in batting average with a .620 mark while also leading Coach Jack Tracy’s outstanding ball club in runs scored. At the time, Tracy called the gifted second baseman “the best Major League prospect he’d ever coached” and the New York Yankees agreed. (Note: Eddie and Steve had four other brothers who played AHS baseball and all six Kuczek’s were incredibly good at the sport!)

kuczek's2
Steve (l) and Eddie Kuczek in 1946

During his junior season at AHS, Eddie had been invited to work out with the Amsterdam Rugmakers, the Yankees’ Class C affiliate in the CanAm League. Eddie Sawyer, who managed the Rugmakers during that 1940 season loved the kid and had recommended that the Bronx Bomber braintrust sign Kuczek right then and there. But the Yankees head scout at the time, the legendary Paul Krichell decided it was best to let the young infielder finish school. So Kuczek spent a second consecutive season playing with his high school team and practicing with the Rugmakers. He was then asked to ink a Rugmaker contract in January of 1942 and he would have become the first ever Amsterdam-born player to sign with the local team.

Unfortunately, the timing of the offer couldn’t have been any worse…

(This well-known Amsterdam physician also celebrated his birthday on June 23.)

My complete birthday post for Eddie Kuczek will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. On June 30, 2016, I will also once again begin distributing an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that will include the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I will recognize each month. Each newsletter will also include an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The next issue of the Amsterdam NY Birthday Blog Newsletter will be e-mailed to all current subscribers next week. You’re not going to want to miss it so make sure you join the Newsletter’s mailing list here. Your address will not be used for any other reason than sending you the newsletter each month.

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