Hall of Famer George Kell died Tuesday, a popular player, broadcaster and autograph signer who escaped tragedy, but lost his own collection.
George Kell lived a full life. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t be sorely missed–especially in Michigan, where fans revered him as a player–and later as a Detroit Tigers’ broadcaster.
Kell died Tuesday at age 86.
He escaped death twice late in life–one after a serious traffic accident and in 2001, his home caught fire. Saved by a volunteer fireman who dragged him out of the burning home, Kell was glad to be alive, but lost most of his baseball memories in the blaze, including an autographed Babe Ruth baseball given to him by the Bambino in the 1940s.
Kell was in his 60s when the baseball card show business was just starting to boom. Booking autograph guests was part of Jim Hawkins’ job as a promoter and in his Oakland Press blog, the former Tigers’ beat writer reflected on securing Kell for one such signing that turned out to be a smash hit.