Brinkman spent 15 years in the majors, earned Gold Glove in '72
CHICAGO -- Eddie Brinkman, a record-setting shortstop during a 15-year career in the majors and a former high school teammate of Pete Rose, has died. He was 66.
Brinkman died Tuesday in his hometown of Cincinnati. The Chicago White Sox, for whom he was a longtime coach and scout, held a moment of silence for him before their AL Central tiebreaker against Minnesota. The team did not give a cause of death.
Brinkman made his big league debut at 19 in 1961 with the Washington Senators and played in an era when shortstops were known for their gloves, rather than their bats. The only two times he hit over .240 came when Hall of Famer Ted Williams personally worked with him.
"Steady Eddie" was traded to Detroit after the 1970 season in a deal that included Denny McLain. Brinkman solidified his reputation as "good-field, no-hit" more than ever in 1972, the year he won his lone Gold Glove.
Brinkman batted just .203 with six home runs and 49 RBIs for the AL East champion Tigers, but set the league record for shortstops with 72 straight errorless games -- a mark Cal Ripken broke in 1990.
Brinkman's glovework in 1972 earned him a ninth-place finish in the AL MVP voting. No Detroit player did better in the balloting that championship year -- Mickey Lolich, a 22-game winner, came in 10th and Al Kaline, who hit .313, was 24th.
Brinkman was an AL All-Star in 1973. The next year, he set career highs with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Batting eighth for most of his career, Brinkman hit .224 with 60 home runs and 461 RBIs. He spent most of his days with Washington and Detroit, and split his last year with St. Louis, Texas and the New York Yankees in 1975.
His best year with the bat came in 1969, when he hit .266. That was Williams' first year as manager of the Senators, and the great slugger made Brinkman his pet project.
Williams worked on improving Brinkman's mental approach at the plate. The result was a career-high average for Brinkman, coming after successive seasons in which he hit .188 and .187.
Brinkman missed much of the 1968 season while serving in the National Guard. A week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Brinkman was stationed in the left-field seats on opening day in Washington.
Brinkman was a prep star, pitching on the same team as Rose. Their high school, Western Hills in Cincinnati, also produced Don Zimmer.
Brinkman's brother, Chuck, was a backup catcher in the majors from 1969-74.
Despite making his mark at shortstop, Brinkman started his big league career as a third baseman in September 1961. He started out 0-for-9 before singling in the next-to-last game at Griffith Stadium. He shifted to shortstop in 1962 when the Senators moved to D.C. Stadium, later renamed RFK Stadium.
Brinkman was the infield coach for the White Sox from 1983 through 1988. He then became a special assignment scout for the team until retiring in 2000.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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