Monday, August 17, 2015

Meet the Brewers #9: Ted Kubiak

The last starter on Opening Day, 1970, to make an impact on the game (other than, perhaps, catching the ball on cutoffs from the outfield or throwing it around the horn after an out) was starting shortstop Ted Kubiak. Kubiak fielded a grounder to throw out Aurelio Rodriguez in the top of the 3rd inning and followed it by catching a popup hit by pitcher Andy Messersmith.  Kubiak slotted into the lineup hitting 8th, just before the pitcher's spot.

1970 was the only year in his entire career that Kubiak was a major league regular. He racked up 158 appearances and 626 plate appearances during the season, hitting .252/.340/.313 with 4 HRs, 6 3Bs, 9 2Bs, and 117 singles.  Don't be fooled by that .340 OBP, either -- he was the beneficiary of 16 intentional walks thanks to hitting 8th most of the year.

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers
For most of his career and as his SABR biography notes, Kubiak was a utility infielder. He was a switch hitter who could field adequately at every position on the infield (though he played first base in only two games for a total of 6 innings for the Padres in 1975 and 1976).  He grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey, as a Yankees fan and didn't think he was that special of a player in high school. So, he was shocked when the Kansas City Athletics had him attend a tryout camp.  He was even more surprised when they signed him for a $500 bonus -- which led him to turn down becoming an architect.

He spent 6 years in the minor leagues and began switch hitting in his third professional season. Once he made it to the major leagues in 1967, his playing time was limited. Being a middle infielder meant he was behind two similarly aged players -- John Donaldson and Bert Campaneris.  So, after the 1969 season, the A's sent him to Milwaukee with George Lauzerique in exchange for Ray Oyler and Diego Segui.

1971 Topps
Kubiak's performance in 1970 showed more that the Brewers did not have middle infield talent than it did that Kubiak earned the job.  Kubiak took over at second from Tommy Harper when Harper moved to third to supplant Max Alvis. Despite yet another "happy talk" story about him becoming a "mainstay" from the Milwaukee Journal in April of 1971, the Brewers decided to look elsewhere and traded Kubiak to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Jose Cardenal, Bob Reynolds, and Dick Schofield.

From there, Kubiak played a half season in St. Louis before being traded to Texas. He played there a half-season before going back to Oakland -- and being the utility man for the A's for their three World Series victories in 1972 through 1974.  At the age of 33 in 1975, he hadn't played much in the first six weeks of the season.  So, the A's traded him to the Padres for Sonny Siebert.  Kubiak played out the last two years of his career with the Padres, filling in for guys like Doug Rader when Rader was on the mend after a pulled thigh muscle.

The end of Kubiak's playing career came through his choice, sort of. The Padres renewed his contract for 1977 for the maximum pay cut allowable. He walked out of spring training when that happened on March 30, basically saying, "to hell with it."

1994 MGD Milwaukee Brewers Commemorative Set
When Kubiak's career as a player ended, he did not go back to college and become the architect he wanted to be.  Instead, he started in TV with the A's in 1978.  He picked up real estate again --something he'd been doing in Milwaukee in 1971 -- and got into renovations and house flipping. After doing that for a while, he got the itch to get back into baseball again.  In 1987, the A's hired him to manage their rookie league team in Southern Oregon.

That position transitioned into four years at Modesto for the A's in the California League. When Modesto became a Cleveland affiliate, Kubiak stayed with the team and switched to the Indians organization. He managed in Single-A and Double-A for the Indians, became an infield coordinator for several years, and then returned to managing again until after the 2014 season.  The Indians decided to make a change and did not renew the now-73-year-old's contract.

I have three Ted Kubiak cards of him on the Brewers, pictured above. I don't have: 1970 Mike Andersen Postcard, 1970 Milwaukee Brewers Picture Pack, 1971 Milwaukee Brewers Picture Pack, 1971 Dell Today's Team Stamps #466, or his 1971 O-Pee-Chee #516.  So, there are a few cards I could use of his.


  1. I'll keep an eye out on his MiLB cards for you ;).

    1. There are a bunch of them out there, I think!

  2. I like how the newspaper article mentioned that Kubiak initiated 3 double plays. Cool post Tony! I like this series.

    1. I am enjoying writing these too. I'm a historian at heart, so digging into the archives is a lot of fun. Plus, it provides me with the perfect distraction for the pain and suffering that is the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers.

  3. Remember Kubiak with the A's teams. Just received my Mcdonalds Brewers set today. The sheets are just a little to big for pages.

    1. Yeah, those sheets are tough to store. They pretty much get stacked along with the 25th Anniversary books.