Ruthian Performance Won't Change Ad
Oct. 15, 2002
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ A few hours after one of the most impressive hitting performances in postseason history, Adam Kennedy spent a quiet evening eating pizza with his family _ the same low-key guy as always.
Kennedy equaled the postseason accomplishment of such Hall of Famers as Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and George Brett by hitting three home runs in one game. The last one was a go-ahead three-run shot in the seventh inning Sunday that led the Anaheim Angels past Minnesota 13-5 and into their first World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
While acknowledging it was the best game of his life, the 26-year-old Kennedy was pretty calm afterward.
``He didn't seem excited, but that's Adam,'' Tom Kennedy said Monday between classes at J.W. North High in Riverside, where he was the baseball coach when his son played there.
Now the elder Kennedy only teaches, so he has time to follow the professional careers of sons Adam and Bryan, a catcher in the Twins' farm system.
``You've got to pick up the subtleties with him as far as excitement goes,'' Tom Kennedy said. ``The most important thing I see with Adam is he is a teammate. I don't think this will change him. He just had one of those days. Now, he'll just go back to work and focus in on the World Series.''
The pizza party at Adam Kennedy's home in Riverside included his fiancee and her parents; 23-year-old Bryan; and Tom Kennedy and his wife.
Those who know Kennedy say he's always had a calm demeanor.
``If he claps his hands, that means he's overly excited. He's basically been like that since he was a kid,'' said Rich Stalder, former baseball coach and athletic director at J.W. North.
Stalder was the baseball coach at J.W. North for 24 years and Tom Kennedy was his assistant much of that time. Stalder remembers one of the first times he noticed the younger Kennedy's ability.
``We had batting practice on a Saturday and I was frustrated with the way our team was hitting,'' he said. ``They were trying to follow my instructions, which weren't helping. Adam, about 3 or 4 years old, was out there with his little plastic bat and plastic ball.
``I called the team over, I threw a couple pitches to Adam with his little plastic bat. I said, `I want you to watch this guy and do what he does.' And Adam hit about three or four balls just like he did Sunday. And I said, `Forget about everything I've told you and watch him.'
``Our whole community is proud of Adam Kennedy. Right now, it's like Babe Ruth came from this town.''
Kennedy hit just seven homers this season and has only 23 in 470 big-league games. He had never homered on an 0-2 pitch in his career, according to STATS, Inc.
So what happened against the Twins?
``I think if a guy has the potential to hit one home run, he has the potential to hit three,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``He got some pitches to hit and he didn't miss them.''
Mike Batesole, Kennedy's coach for three years at Cal State Northridge, called him ``a great clutch player.''
Kennedy had an amazing career at Northridge, hitting .414 with a school-record 337 hits and 234 RBIs in three years. He became the only player ever to lead the NCAA in hits in two successive seasons, and had 26 homers and 99 RBIs before St. Louis made him a first-round pick in 1997.
``He came to our place not drafted, he really grew up,'' said Batesole, the head coach at Northridge for seven years before moving to Fresno State. ``His junior year was sick _ he had 134 hits in 63 games. That's over two a game. And he had 67 extra-base hits. That's over one a game. And he went 6-for-6 twice.
``Here's Adam Kennedy: In his first full year in the big leagues during the All-Star break, he's at our field taking batting practice and throwing to my two kids, who were 5 and 7. Here's a big-leaguer on a rare day off shagging for my two little guys. That's says a lot about Adam Kennedy.''
The Angels acquired Kennedy from the Cardinals in March 2000 with pitcher Kent Bottenfield for outfielder Jim Edmonds, who was popular with the fans and not so popular in the clubhouse.
Kennedy had played only 33 games with the Cardinals, yet was slated to become Anaheim's starting second baseman.
The move was heavily criticized at the time.
``They needed a center fielder, we had the premier guy,'' Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said. ``He was going to become a free agent after that season. All the distractions that you never want around a team were beginning to pop up.
``We had the motivation to do something if we could help ourselves in the middle of the infield, where we were weak,'' Stoneman said.
``We sure weren't weak in the outfield, where we had four guys,'' he said, referring to Edmonds and current starters Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon.
``Bottenfield didn't work out, Kennedy has,'' Stoneman said. ``He has become a really good defensive player and a good offensive player.
``Adam's not a rah-rah guy, but he's the kind of guy you love to have. There's nothing false about Adam, it's all intensity. He loves baseball, and he loves to compete. We have a team full of guys like that.''