September 22, 1931 |
Brooklyn, New York
|September 2, 1957, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 21, 1963, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||124|
Kenneth Joseph Aspromonte (born September 22, 1931) is a retired American professional baseball player and manager. During his active career, the native of Brooklyn, New York, spent all or parts of seven seasons (1957–63) in the Major Leagues, mostly as a second baseman, for the Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels of the American League, and the Milwaukee Braves and Chicago Cubs of the National League. He spent three years (1964–66) playing in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons and Taiyo Whales. He also managed in the Major Leagues for the Indians for three full seasons (1972–74).
Apromonte batted and threw right-handed, and was listed as 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg). The older brother of Bob Aspromonte, who had a 13-year career as a third baseman in the National League, Ken signed with the Red Sox in 1950 and spent six years in the minors, plus two in military service, before reaching the big leagues in September 1957 after he led the Pacific Coast League in batting average (.334) for the San Francisco Seals. After only 30 games played with Boston in 1957–58, he was traded to the Senators, where he spent almost two full seasons. However, his best MLB year was in 1960. Traded to the Indians on May 15, he started 78 games at second base and 35 at third base, and batted a career-high .290 with ten home runs. But he was left exposed in the 1960 Major League Baseball expansion draft and was the 14th player selected by the Angels, 27th overall, in the lottery.
He was the starting second baseman in the Angels' first-ever American League game on April 11, 1961, against the Baltimore Orioles. Batting second in the lineup behind Eddie Yost, Aspromonte went one-for-four at the plate, making one error in eight chances in the field, as Los Angeles won, 7–2. But Aspromonte struggled at the bat through the season's early weeks, and was hitting only .223 when he was placed on waivers and claimed by his old team, the Indians, on July 3. Relegated to a utility role, he played in only 42 games over a full calendar year for Cleveland, then sold to the Braves, where he backed up Frank Bolling and Eddie Mathews for the remainder of 1962. The Cubs acquired him in a midwinter deal, but he collected only five hits and 34 at bats in a utility role during the first two months of the 1963 campaign, and he was sent to the Pacific Coast League, where he finished his U.S. pro career. As a big-leaguer, he appeared in 475 games; his 369 hits included 69 doubles, three triples and 19 home runs.
During his three years in Nippon Professional Baseball, Aspromonte batted a robust .273 in 295 games, with 257 hits, 53 doubles and 31 home runs.
In 1968, Aspromonte returned to the Indians' organization as a manager in their farm system. After leading the 1969 Reno Silver Sox of the Class A California League to a winning record, he was promoted to Triple-A, where he spent two years at the helm of the Wichita Aeros, Cleveland's top affiliate. Aspromonte was named skipper of the MLB Indians on November 9, 1971, taking over a team that had lost 102 games in 1971 and finished 43 games out of first place in the American League East Division. But, fortified by the acquisition of future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, who won 24 games, the 1972 Indians improved their record substantially. They won 72 of 156 games during the strike-abbreviated campaign and bettered their previous year's winning percentage by 0.92 points.
But the 1973 and 1974 clubs did not materially improve, falling into the division basement with 91 defeats in the former year, and losing 85 games in 1974 despite finishing fourth. Aspromonte was notified September 27, 1974, by club owner Ted Bonda and general manager Phil Seghi that his contract would not be renewed for 1975, but he finished out the campaign, completing his managerial career with a mark of 220–260 (.458). The Indians then named Frank Robinson their player-manager for 1975—the first African-American manager in big-league history.
- Retrosheet box score, 1961-04-11