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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Brett, 55, suffered from brain cancer
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Ken Brett, brother of Hall of Famer George Brett and the youngest World Series pitcher in history, died after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 55.
Brett, who died Tuesday night, was part-owner of the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team and Spokane Chiefs hockey team. The teams confirmed his death Wednesday.
Brett pitched 14 years in the major leagues, going 83-85 with a 3.93 ERA. He was the winner in the 1974 All-Star game, twice lost no-hit bids in the ninth inning and gave up Hank Aaron's 700th home run.
He also was known for his outstanding hitting. He set a record for pitchers by homering in four straight starts for the Phillies in 1973. Lifetime, he hit .262 with 10 homers.
Brett was 19 years, 1 month when he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in the 1967 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
He had pitched in only one big league game before the Series, going two innings against Cleveland during the final week of the season.
"Well, he was left-handed, he could throw strikes and he had a bat. Plus, nothing ever fazed him. We had no hesitation about putting him on the World Series roster, none at all," Dick Williams, Boston's manager that year, recalled Wednesday.
"He had the guts of a burglar. He was a cocky kid, but he could back it up," Williams said. "And he was quite a hitter. I'm convinced that if he'd come to the major leagues as something besides a pitcher, he could've made it as a hitter."
The team's surprising success that season is still known as the "Impossible Dream" in Boston.
"He had a lot of poise," said former Red Sox shortstop and teammate Rico Petrocelli. "I remember that he was a lot like his brother. He had that great sense of humor.
"He was very mature for his age and very well-liked."
"He fit into the clubhouse perfectly," Petrocelli said. "We were young and everybody could take things lightly. We didn't take losses really to heart. We just played as hard as we could, and that was it."
A left-hander, Brett tied the modern record for playing with the most teams: 10, including Milwaukee, Philadelphia, the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox, California, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Kansas City, where he and George were teammates, before Ken Brett retired in 1981.
Mike Morgan went on to break the mark by playing for 12 clubs.
He won a high of 13 games three times in his career, with Philadelphia in 1973, Pittsburgh in 1974 and the White Sox and Angels in 1977.
Brett later served as a broadcaster for the Angels and Seattle Mariners.
"He was valued highly as a member of our teams and even more highly as a friend," the Kansas City Royals said in a statement. "We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and want them to knew Ken will always hold a special place in our hearts and our memories."
Brett was part-owner of the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team and Spokane Chiefs hockey club. He moved to Spokane several years ago to help run the teams he owned with brothers George, John and Bobby.
Kenneth Alven Brett was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Sept. 18, 1948.
Growing up in California, Ken was considered a better athlete than George, who was five years younger. The Red Sox picked Ken fourth overall in the 1966 draft.
In June 1973, Brett homered in four straight starts for the Phillies. The next month, he gave up Aaron's 700th homer, but Brett got two hits in that game and beat Atlanta.
In the first game of a doubleheader May 27, 1974, Brett pitched no-hit ball until San Diego's Fred Kendall singled to open the ninth inning. Brett wound up with a shutout, and in the second game, his pinch-hit, two-run triple gave Pittsburgh another win.
With the White Sox on May 26, 1976, Brett held California hitless until there were two outs in the ninth. Jerry Remy hit a slow roller down the third-base line and Jorge Orta let it roll for a single. Brett won 1-0 in 11 innings.
Brett is survived by his wife, Teresa; two children; his mother, Ethel; and his three brothers.
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