Yesterday, my wife and I were on the phone with my parents, spending our early evening in conversation with them on a day we’d usually be together in person. Given the circumstances, you make the most of what you can with respect to COVID-19, and as everyone else, feeling the pain of isolation and financial strain can be momentarily subdued by conversing with loved ones.
It was during this conversation that, on speaker phone, I could hear my dad yelling in the background: “Glenn Beckert died!”
At first, I could not make out the name. My dad is an excitable type with a booming voice, and even in his early 70’s he remains endlessly energetic — especially when it comes to talking baseball. When my mom made clear the name, I admittedly remained confused. Who was Glenn Beckert?
My mom informed me Beckert was a second baseman for the Cubs, during the time of Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and the like. I was bewildered I didn’t know the name and career of the Cubs second baseman during an era in which the Cubs had significant talent — with even more significant heartache.
To his teammates, Glenn Beckert evokes an eternal fondness:
“He was probably the second-best second basement the Cubs ever had,” my dad added, “after Ryne Sandberg, of course.”
The Quiet Memory of Beckert
At almost 35 years of age, the Cubs remain imprinted in my brain from the earliest stages of my memory. Baseball was fundamental to my childhood, and as I grew up my parents instilled in me an appreciation for the Cubs — both past and present.
I knew the names everyone knew. I recall specific instances my parents spoke of casually, like my dad wistfully recalling Rick Sutcliffe winning the ’84 Cy Young even after being traded to the NL at the deadline, or my mother speaking of the awe she had seeing a Dave Kingman home run in person.
But Glenn Beckert? That was a name I don’t remember.
As a life-long Cubs fan, with a baseball IQ and feel for the game I take pride in, I at first wanted to feel embarrassed. Beckert was a Gold Glove winner, a four-time All Star, and a key member of the (in)famous 1969 Cubs. How could I not know his name?
There’s a certain beauty in baseball, however: no matter how long you devote yourself to the game, no matter how much time you study a singular team, there is always more to be uncovered, more to learn, more to cherish, more to admire.
Beckert was not a household name. His career was a sturdy one, however, a defensive-first second baseman with a bat that yielded little by way of power or speed on the base paths. What he lacked in offensive prowess he made up for with a consistent approach. A career .283/.318/.345 hitter, Beckert walked more in his career than he struck out. In an era in which pitching dominated, limiting strike outs and putting the ball in play while providing excellent defense is a helluva contribution to a team with four Hall of Famers.
In fact, Beckert walked at a paltry 4.7 percent in his career, a number that sounds relatively laughable until you discover he only struck out 4.4 percent of the time. For context during his era:
The passing of Glenn Beckert is a sad moment for a proud Cubs franchise. At a time when baseball is suspended, his name, his career, and the love his family, loved ones and teammates express for him should be cherished.
Perhaps unknown to a large contingent of a younger generation of Cubs die-hards, our duty is to learn of his career. Recognizing Beckert is a nod to our appreciation for Cubs history, an expression of a collective love for everyone who has so admirably donned Cubbie blue.
Rest in peace, Glenn.