September 9, 1920|
Watertown, New York
|Died||October 7, 2008
George Marshall Kissell (September 9, 1920 – October 7, 2008) was an American baseball minor league player, manager, coach, scout, and instructor, as well as a Major League coach, for the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Born in Watertown, New York, he attended Ithaca College, where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in history and physical education. As a player he stood 5'8" (173 cm) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg). He threw and batted right-handed.
Almost 70 years with Cardinals
Kissell was signed as an infielder in 1940 by Branch Rickey, and spent 69 years with the Cardinals organization. He was primarily a third baseman, although he also played shortstop, and never rose above the Class B level as a player. By 1946, after three seasons in the military during World War II, he had become a playing manager for the Lawrence Millionaires of the Class B New England League. His most successful season as a manager came in 1950 with the Class B Winston-Salem Cardinals, who won 106 of 153 regular-season games and the Carolina League playoff championship.
Kissell managed in the Cardinal farm system through 1957, scouted for them from 1958–1962, then returned to the field as a minor league manager from 1963–1967. In 1968, he spent his first season as a roving instructor in the Cardinal system, where his efforts led to the nickname of "the Professor," and his influence is generally regarded as being a major basis for what came to be known as the "Cardinal Way". He mentored a number of major league managers, including Sparky Anderson, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa.
Honored for dedication to baseball
Kissell received numerous honors for his work in baseball, including induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. In recognition for his years of service to the game, Kissell received the King of Baseball award in 1993 from minor league baseball. In addition, the Cardinals' spring training clubhouse in Jupiter, Florida was named after him during spring training in 2005. The Cardinals organization annually honors a minor league coach with the George Kissell award.
In the middle of his long career as a minor league manager and farm system official, Kissell spent seven seasons with the Major League Cardinals (1969–1975) as a third-base coach on the staff of skipper Red Schoendienst. In his final decades with St. Louis, he served as field coordinator of system-wide instruction, then senior field coordinator. Said former Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog in 2005, “He is one of those baseball lifers that loves to talk baseball ... George Kissell is the only man I know who can talk for 15 minutes about a ground ball.”
- Marcin, Joe, ed., The Official 1970 Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1970
- Goold, Derrick (2008-10-09). "Students pay tribute to Kissell". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- Goold, Derrick (2008-10-08). "George Kissell: 1920-2008". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Goldstein, Richard (2008-10-08). "George Kissell, 88, Dies; Taught the Techniques of Baseball". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- Lindberg, Anne (2008-10-08). "Crash claims baseball mentor George Kissell". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-10-08.