George Kell funeral service

SWIFTON, AR (KAIT) The funeral services for Goerge Kell will take place today at 1:30pm in Swifton, Arkansas at the Swifton United Methodist Church.

- Hall of Fame baseball player George Kell passed away early Tuesday morning. Kell was 86.

Kell, born in Swifton, Arkansas, was a former third baseman who played for the Philadelphia Athletics (1943-1946), Detroit Tigers (1947-52), Boston Red Sox (1952-54), Chicago White Sox (1954-56) and Baltimore Orioles (1956-57) in the American League.

Back in 1949, Kell just beat out fellow Hall of Famer Ted Williams for the AL batting title, hitting .3429, with Williams finishing at .3427. Kell hit over 300 eight times, and finished with a career batting average of .306.

Kell played Major League baseball for 15 years, and then went on to a broadcasting career for the Detroit Tigers from 1959 to 1996.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Swifton United Methodist Church.

For more information on Kell, you can go to the baseball hall of fame.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - George Kell, a Hall of Fame third baseman who outdueled Ted Williams for the 1949 American League batting title and finished his career with a batting average of .306, died this morning. He was 86.

Kell was from Swifton.

Kell played 14 years in the American League with Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. He won the AL batting title in 1949 when he hit .34291 and Ted Williams hit .34276. Kell hit above .300 nine times and was selected to play in 10 All-Star games.

After his playing days, Kell was a Detroit Tigers broadcaster from 1959 to 1996.

Kell lived in the same Swifton house from his birth to when it burned down in 2001. He rebuilt on the same land. Kell was severely injured in a car crash in December 2004, but was able to walk again with a cane about six months later.

Jackson's Funeral Home in Newport, Ark., confirmed the death.

Kell batted over .300 each year from 1946-53. He played for the Tigers during his batting duel with Williams, who played for the Red Sox.

Longtime Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell told WWJ-AM in Detroit on Tuesday that Kell was accomplished both on the baseball field and in the broadcast booth. The men became close friends working together in TV and on the radio.

"He had a very laid-back style," Harwell said. "He was easygoing and an expert on the game. He brought the field to the booth because he played and played well. He had a conversational style that people took to."

George Clyde Kell, born Aug. 23, 1922, signed a pro baseball contract in 1940. During his 1,573-game career, Kell had 1,847 hits and drove in 778 runs. He hit a career-high 12 home runs with Boston in 1953.

Lou Boudreau, former major league manager, introduced Kell when he was inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame in 1964. Boudreau said, "I'll put him with Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio when you need to get the run home."

Kell won the 1949 batting title in dramatic fashion. Facing Bob Lemon, he went two for three on the final day of the season and Williams, who would become Kell's teammate three years later, went hitless.

The next year, when the Tigers faced Boston, Kell was shocked to see the already great Williams come over to greet him, saying, "You won the batting title, so I'm coming to your dugout." The friendship served him well when he was traded to the Red Sox two years later.

Kell struck out only 13 times in 1949, the least ever for a batting champ. The next year, he had 56 doubles and drove in 101 runs with only eight home runs. No one hit as many doubles in any year since. From 1950, until Tommy Herr turned the trick in 1985, no one had driven in 100 runs without reaching double figures in home runs.

Kell was known as a player who didn't swear and didn't get thrown out of ball games. He admitted that he lost his temper once when umpire Hank Soar refused to grant his request for a timeout and the pitcher threw a strike before Kell could get back in the batter's box.

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