Boston Red Sox Memories: Potential pitching greatness derailed
When the name Brett is tossed out in baseball conversations the first thought is George Brett the Hall of Fame third baseman, but for me, it is Ken Brett. Brett tossed and batted left-handed and was drafted fourth (1966) with the expectations of being an outfielder. But in slightly over a year Brett was on the mound in the World Series.
Brett dazzled in the minors in 1967 (14-11, 1.95) and was called up to Boston in the last week of the season and appeared in just one game of mop-up duty against the Indians, but was not done. Fellow lefty Sparky Lyle went down to injury and Brett became his replacement – thanks to a commissioner decision – and twice faced the Cardinals and did it cleanly. Then it all became unraveled.
In 1968 Brett started the season at Triple-A and it was the usual suspect that did Brett in – arm trouble. Brett hung around the Red Sox through 1971 going 10-15 in his Sox career before the hard thrower was shipped to Milwaukee and that started an amazing trip through ten organizations in an injury-plagued 14-year career.
What Brett could do is hit and hit for power. The final career average was .262 with ten home runs and occasional use as a pinch-hitter. One of the best hitting pitchers of the decade and with hindsight a position player may have been a better option.
Brett had a respectable career, but this was a pitcher who had the physical and mental attributes to be one of the best in Red Sox history. Brett’s potential was off the charts and joins a list of promising players whose careers were shortchanged by injury.