Rod Kanehl, RIP

Posted in Baseball at 11:13 pm by

Rod Kanehl, one of the original 1962 New York Mets, passed away two weeks ago at the age of 70. Kanehl, who played at every position other than pitcher and catcher during his 3 years with the Mets, had previously spent 8 years in the Yankees system.

14 responses to “Rod Kanehl, RIP”

  1. Jack Hyde says:

    The Passing of an Everyman

    With baseball season in the midst of its annual hibernation, I try to keep warm with thoughts of “The Boys of Summer” in the pre-steroid, pre-million dollar contract era – back to when it was a beautiful pastoral game with an innocence assured by a cooperating press.
    Thoughts like those return each winter after the hustle of the holidays ebbs into anticipation of spring training. I recall the Christmas of 2004, when an icon for the everyman quietly slipped from our midst.
    The newspapers of December 29, 2004 reported the death of Rod Kanehl. He was 70. I doubt many readers outside the Big Apple would have known about him yet he represented most people in most places.
    Sometimes we define people, be they athletes or salesmen in quantitative terms and in Rod Kanehl’s case there were many numbers associated with him.
    He wore number ten on the 1962-1964 New York Mets. He was described by a low number of hits compared to a high number of at-bats. He was described by a high number of errors for a low number of fielding chances. In a splendid example of poetic justice his date of birth was April Fool’s Day in 1934. Yet, some considered him the most appealing player on a team labeled, “America’s most lovable losers”.
    What was it that endeared him to the loyal fans?
    Rod Kanehl was no ordinary ballplayer. He epitomized the misadventures of his team. Remarkably unskilled for the major leagues of his day, he tried to make up with for it with hustle ala Pete Rose. But he did not seem to have the luck of Pete. He plunked his chips down on each position he played and yet walked away from the table empty-handed. Every time he was dealt a hand of cards, they were the wrong ones. Rod was the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none. He played all positions on the field except pitcher and catcher – each with an equally displayed level of mediocrity yet his enthusiastic abandon caught our affection even if it missed the ball.
    He did not get 4256 hits as Pete did. In his three seasons, Rod got 192. Such was his plight he could have hit into a double play even when the bases were empty. He did not play in a World Series or even Yankee Stadium, for that matter. But he did play in the old Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan.
    Outside those Polo Grounds one could stand and look across the Harlem River and in the distance, see the outline of Yankee Stadium. That was where the real baseball of that era was played. The closest Rod ever got to the House that Ruth Built was to languish in the Yankees’ minor league system for eight years before his flirtation with glory in the Mets’ (and formerly the Giants’) crumbling edifice.
    A lot of us regular guys identified with Rod Kanehl; guys who could not find their keys, guys who fumbled around the floor of their bedrooms each morning looking for matching socks to wear….again. The same guys who, with all the best intentions in the world, went out on Valentine’s Day and bought their girlfriends sets of socket wrenches and guys who had boyhood fantasies of becoming superheroes but ended up operating punch presses on assembly lines.
    Here was a guy just like them but one who got to wear the uniform, spend major league meal money on road trips, sign autographs and line up alongside immortals Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn and even the not-so-immortal Clarence “Choo-choo” Coleman.
    Rod Kanehl tried his best out there for all to see even if it wasn’t pretty and that is what we loved about him.

  2. James Walsworth says:

    I know Rod kanehl. He is my dad’s cousin. Rod came from Springfirld Missouri and was an amazing athelete that had opportunities to go pro in several sports. A track star at Drury University where his father coached. your description of Rod, while it makes gooid fiction is complete garbage. In his honor I would straight brake your nose for this crap you wrote about a good man with a giant heart. Fuck you asshole.

  3. GC says:

    sorry, James, where in this admittedly brief death notice was Rod Kanehl defamed in any fashion? Where’s the fiction…or the insult? Though I’m grateful anyone is reading CSTB archives from nearly 7 years ago, the last thing I wanna do is provoke someone into braking my nose. Or breaking my nose, as the junior high grads amongst us might say.

  4. James Walsworth says:

    I’l tell you where the fiction and the INSULT is “GC”; You have no idea who you wrote about. You have no personal experience and mostly YOU DID NOT KNOW THIS MAN. That’s the insult part and I can and will go way further if you wanna roll that way “GC” whoever you are. You deminish the manhood of solid men like Rod with your weakness. Step up and be somebody for yourself first, and then you may be worthy of commenting on an individual who went above and way beyond the average. Casey Stengel held Rod up in high regard for a reason, your opinion is meaningless. You didn’t know Rod and you don’t know jack shit about his life or this era of baseball.

  5. GC says:

    Mr. Walsworth,

    if you can find someone who will read this aloud to you, I ask you again to specify how I have in any fashion demeaned Rod Kanehl. Other than mentioning his passing, I’ve not commented on him in any way.

  6. jim carmody says:

    Well, let’s be honest and say that the description of Rod Kanehl was not complimentary. I watched the Mets faithfully in the days when Rod was with the team, and I didn’t view him to be as flawed as you suggest; it didn’t require all the space taken simply to “mention his passing”. The statistics of many of the expansion draftees didn’t tell their stories, as they were thrown together from far and wide and had to suffer through their unfamiliarity with their manager, teammates, and home turf as they started a team from the ground up. Many of us understood that, and loved the early Mets players for bearing up under all the adversity.

  7. GC says:


    I certainly hope you didn’t graduate from the same Schmuck Academy as James Walsworth. I’ve neither described nor insulted Rod Kanehl. Another CSTB reader, Mr. Jack Hyde, is responsible for the comments that followed the post. All complaints, threats of nose breakage, are best directed towards him.


  8. Gentlemen,
    Here is what I remember: Rod Kanehl was a terrific hustler, a terrific base runner & a member of the ’62, ’63 & ’64 Mets. I recall he was a substitute runner for the Mets stealing second base 2 games in a row in extra innings, and scored both times to win for the Mets. The games were in the Polo Grounds. Casey was his effusive self after the games and lauded “his” or “my”, “Mr. Kanehl.” That Hot Rod as we called him was a member of the Mets made him in my opinion, great by definition. I can kind of remember his batting stance too. I wish he were around so I could shake his hand and tell him I remember his great feat. Cheers to all who recall those great days when one stuck with one’s team no matter the difficulties involved!

  9. Hotrod62 says:

    I was 11 years old in 1962. Rod was my favorite player because what he lacked in talent, he made up with desire and hustle. That’s why we adopted him as one of our own and tried to emulate him on the field. The only chance he had in major league baseball was with the Mets and Casey.
    I agree, he epitomized those Mets…diving for a grounder and having the ball skip over your glove.

    In 1964 after a game at Shea, I waited to get his autograph. Fifteen minutes later, I’m on the 7 train and there is Rod, standing next to me. As a kid, I was too much in awe to say anything to him, but this is one of my favorite childhood memories.

  10. Paul T Smith says:

    Rod Kanehl hit the first grand slam in NY Mets history on the day I was born, July 6th, 1962. Dad always said he did it for me. Thanks “Hot Rod”!

  11. Des from Long Island says:

    I watched and admired Rod Kanehl over many games. He was a fan favorite who was a talented guy and a man of the people. Thanks for everything, Rod.

    To GC: Being a bit snide belittles you more than your subject. Perhaps you forget just how talented every major league baseball player is. If they competed in local community games, each player would typically be regarded as Ruthian. Competing in the major leagues, they are compared with the very best, day after day. Hence their small flaws are seen by some as material to to ridicule rather than to appreciate.

  12. GC says:


    where have I been snide in relation to Rod Kanehl? I think you’re attributing statements to me that were (clearly) composed by another commentator.

  13. Lisa in Palm Springs says:

    First, my tremendous regards and respect for Rod Kanehl. I am not a sports fan and don’t know baseball at all, but, I (unknowingly) purchased the home of Rod & Blanche Kanehl in Palm Springs, where Rod died. I write here (with great reservation) because I have reason to believe that he may still be here in the house. I’ve seen a blue-eyed, freckled, reddish-blond haired boy with a baseball & glove dressed in clothes from another time in the house – before I ever knew of Rod Kanehl. I’m sorry, I know this sounds really silly and I’ve never seen these type of things before. The Boy is nice & happy, playing around the house. However, there’s also an old, angry, white-haired woman who chases him to get him to stop playing. She is my concern. She’s been seen by some of my house guests too. Is there any family information you might be able to share with me that might help me to figure out how to calm my beautiful home? Did Rod have children? What happened to his Mother? Grandmother? Who raised him? Blanche is still alive, but was there ever another wife who has passed? Thanks in advance for any info.

  14. Laurie says:

    First of all im sorry you are having such problems in the house with spirits, however, Rod Kanehl never died in this house it belonged to my Grandmother who is Blanches mother, and Blanche is my mother. Rod and my mother lived there a few years to take care of my Grandmother and help her out financialy, unfortunately Rod fell ill and passed away at Desert Hospital. His family comes from Springfield Missouri and with Googleing Rods name you kind find all this out online. For the Old Lady with the grey hair not my Grandmother who owned the house just under 30yrs, we never saw her or the little boy as far as the boy with a baseball is coincidental. Actually no spirits at all and we lived in the original house. Maybe when the house was renovated after it was sold the activity might have stirred up paranormal activity. Hope this helps you out.

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