Duane Kuiper: A Cleveland baseball fan favorite
Let’s take a trip back in time to 1977, when former Cleveland second baseman Duane Kuiper hit the only home run of his 12-year career.
As a fan of Cleveland baseball growing up in the 1970s, I would listen to games on my red round AM transistor radio while lying on the living room floor.
With my Topps 1977 baseball cards spread out in front of me, I would toss the red round radio up in the air. Usually, I would make the catch while listening to Joe Tait or Herb Score describe Rick Manning or Duane Kuiper’s great defensive play.
Except for this one time, when I did not make the catch.
Unfortunately, I cracked my radio screen. This actually worked out well because my brother had the same red round AM transistor radio. From that point forward, we were able to tell our radios apart.
In addition to tossing my radio up in the air while listening to games, I would stare intently at the baseball cards laid out in front of me.
Duane Kuiper’s card was one of my favorites.
In 1977, Kuiper was Cleveland’s starting second baseman. Although an excellent player who hit with some power (he had eight triples and 15 doubles in 1977), Kuiper had not hit a home in his first 1,381 MLB at-bats.
However, on August 29, 1977 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Kuiper came to bat against Chicago White Sox pitcher Steve Stone. Stone, a Cy Young award winner with the 1980 Baltimore Orioles, grew up in Cleveland while starring for Brush High School and Kent State University.
In the second inning of this legendary 1977 baseball game, Kuiper hit his first and only home run of his career. After rounding the bases and returning to the dugout, Kuiper recalled that his first thought was whether or not he had touched all the bases.
A fun and enlightening documentary about the famous home run was produced by Michael Landolina and provides great historical context to this event.
After Kuiper concluded his professional baseball career, he became a broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants. Although he did not hit many home runs as a player, he has become famous for his “Outta Here” home run calls.
Unfortunately, Kuiper and his broadcast partner, Mike Krukow, were not in Cleveland this weekend for the Guardians’ home opener against the Giants due to various reasons. During the 2022 baseball season, Kuiper and Krukow will broadcast Giants home games as well as some away games from a San Francisco studio.
Kuiper has made amazing contributions to the game of baseball and brought joy to baseball fans for over five decades. From Generation X youth playing catch with their red round AM transistor radios, to fans of all ages listening to his amazing baseball calls, Kuiper has been incredibly influential.
Here’s hoping that Kuiper will eventually be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Ford C. Frick Award winner.