Ron Hansen (baseball)

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Ron Hansen
Ron Hansen 1960.png
Hansen in 1960.
Shortstop
Born: (1938-04-05) April 5, 1938 (age 76)
Oxford, Nebraska
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1958 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
June 20, 1972 for the Kansas City Royals
Career statistics
Batting average .234
Home runs 106
Runs batted in 501
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Ronald Lavern Hansen (born April 5, 1938 in Oxford, Nebraska) is a former shortstop in Major League Baseball who played for the Baltimore Orioles (1958–62), Chicago White Sox (1963–67, 1968–69), Washington Senators (1968), New York Yankees (1970–71) and Kansas City Royals (1972). He batted and threw right-handed. In a 15-season career, Hansen was a .234 hitter with 106 home runs and 501 RBI in 1384 games.

Hansen's career was hampered throughout and was eventually cut short by chronic back ailments and other injuries. Despite being a tall shortstop at 6 ft 3 in and 200 pounds (91 kg), Hansen was fluid and smooth in the field. He was a competent hitter as well.

Hansen was born in Oxford, Nebraska on April 5, 1938, and moved with his family to Albany, California when he was age 2. He was a three-sport star in baseball, basketball and football at Albany High School where he graduated in 1955. He signed with the Orioles on April 7, 1956 after declining a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley.[1]

A case of sciatica forced him to miss the entire 1957 season, costing him his first chance to make the Orioles.[1] His major-league debut came in a 6–1 win over the Washington Senators in the 1958 season opener at Memorial Stadium on April 15.[2] His first hit in the majors was a single to center field off Pedro Ramos in the sixth inning of another season-opening victory over the Senators in the same ballpark two years later on April 19, 1960.[3] Between the two milestones, he appeared in only 14 games in the majors and established an Orioles record among position players by going hitless in his first 25 at-bats to begin his career with the ballclub.[4][5]

Hansen surpassed all expectations by turning in a solid, injury-free 1960 season, filling the Orioles urgent need for a quality shortstop. He appeared in 153 games, and finished with 22 home runs, 86 RBI, 22 doubles, five triples, a .255 batting average and a .342 on-base percentage, batting from the eight spot. He was selected for the All-Star Game and earned American League Rookie of the Year honors, getting 22 of 24 votes, as well as the TSN Rookie of the Year Award.

Hansen led AL shortstops in double plays in 1961, hitting 12 home runs with 51 RBI in 155 games. In 1962 he spent six months as a Marine due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the service, Hansen reinjured his back. Before the 1963 season, he was sent to the White Sox along with knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm in the same trade that brought Luis Aparicio to the Orioles.

With Chicago, Hansen led the AL twice more in double plays and four times in assists. During a doubleheader in 1965, he tied an AL record with 18 total chances in the first game and added 10 more in the second for a total of 28, to set a major league record for a doubleheader.

In 1964, Hansen posted career-highs in batting average (.261), runs (85), hits (160) and doubles (25), and belted 20 home runs with 68 RBI. In 1965 he led the league with 162 games played, but was out again with back problems in 1966, appearing in 23 games. He underwent surgery for a ruptured spinal disc and returned in 1967, playing in 157 games.

In 1968, Hansen was sent to the Senators at pre-season in a deal for infielder Tim Cullen. With the Senators, on July 30, 1968, in a game against the Cleveland Indians, Hansen turned the eighth unassisted triple play in major league history and the first in 41 years. In the bottom of the first inning, Hansen caught a line drive off of the bat of Joe Azcue, touched second base to put out Dave Nelson, and tagged Russ Snyder coming from first base. In a curious movement, he was then shipped back to the White Sox for Cullen, making them the only two players in MLB history to be traded for one another twice in the same season. In the at bats following the triple play (the games of July 30 and 31), Hansen struck out six consecutive times.[6] On August 1 he hit a grand slam home run,[7] and the following day, batting .185,[8] he was traded to the White Sox.

With Aparicio again in Chicago, Hansen served as a backup infielder. He finished his career as a utility for the Yankees and Kansas City, and later became a coach and minor league manager. In 2007, he was still in baseball, as a major league scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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