Yankees News: Yankee Jim Kaat selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame

William Parlee

The New York Yankees have many illustrious players who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today you can add Yankee pitcher and broadcaster Jim Kaat to that list. Others inducted were Gill Hodges, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, a teammate of Kaat’s when with the Twins, Buck O’Neil, and Bud Fowler.

The selections were made on Sunday in Orlando, Florida. The six will be honored on July 24, 2022, in Cooperstown, along with the Baseball Writers Association of America’s selections for the class of 2022. Kaat, Hodges, Minoso, and Oliva were selected by the Golden Days Era Committee (1950-1969), Fowler and O’Neil from the Early Baseball Era Committee (before 1950).

Flower is considered to be the first black professional baseball player. He played second base for over a dozen teams in the Negro Leagues. He died in 1913. O’Neil played 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League and was named to three All-Star teams. He passed away in 2006. Hodges played first base for the Mets and the Dodgers and was an 8-time All-Star. Minoso was a 9 time All-Star for four teams during his 17-year career. Oliva was a teammate of Kaat and was an All-Star 8 times in his 15 years with the Twins.

Although Jim Kaat spent most of his career with the Minnesota Twins, he was also a fan favorite with the New York Yankees, both on the pitching mound and in the broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium. After the 1978 season, the Philadelphia Phillies sold Kaat to the Yankees. For the Yankees, he was a reliable arm out of the bullpen. The lefty obtained free agency after the season but resigned with the Yankees for a big $150k contract, which was a huge amount for a 40-year-old. Before the season was over, the Yankees sold him to the Cardinals.

Although Kaat was a solid reliever for the Yankees, he is more known for his time in the broadcast booth. He announced for the Yankees two separate times, in 1986 and again for a longer stint between 1998 and 2006. He was noted for his baseball knowledge and candid presentation. Kaat’s candor was an enduring element of his analysis. During his broadcast career, he did play-by-play for some important games on ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN. Of the six inductees, Kaat and Oliva are the only living players. Kaat is 83 years old. He won 283 games over four decades from 1959-83.

Kaat had this to say about his selection:

“I never was a No. 1 pitcher,” Kaat said. “The Hall of Fame rewards dominance. [Sandy] Koufax, [Bob] Gibson, [Juan] Marichal. I wasn’t dominant. I was durable, I was dependable. I was your No. 2 guy or No. 3 guy. But I’m grateful to the committee that they chose to reward some durability. I really didn’t think this day would ever come,” Kaat said. “It comes as more of a gift to me, and I’m so appreciative of the guys that I played with and against that I think rewarded durability and dependability along with dominance, which the Hall of Fame usually rewards — rightly so.”