Roderick Edwin Kanehl
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 180 lb.
- School Drury University
- High School Springfield (MO) High School
- Debut April 15, 1962
- Final Game October 4, 1964
- Born April 1, 1934 in Wichita, KS USA
- Died December 14, 2004 in Palm Springs, CA USA
"Baseball is a lot like life. The line drives are caught, the squibbers go for base hits. It's an unfair game." - Rod Kanehl
A struggling minor leaguer for eight years with a rather unimpressive resumé, Rod Kanehl suddenly vaulted into the limelight, becoming a regular and a fan favorite for Casey Stengel's inaugural 1962 New York Mets. With rather suspect skills, he typified the futility of a roster laden with over-the-hill former stars and unproven minor leaguers.
He hit .241 in his big league career with minimal power, but proved to be versatile while playing 7 different positions. A free swinger, Kanehl walked only 35 times in nearly 850 plate appearances and finished with an anemic .277 career on-base-percentage and a sub-standard fielding percentage.
While his fielding percentage may have been below average, Kanehl's ability to get to balls in the infield or outfield was notable. Based on analysis of Baseball-Reference.com data for players with 100+ innings at a position, Kanehl led all Met second and third basemen in assists per inning during 1962 and 1964, and had the highest ratio of centerfield putouts per inning during 1964. During 1963, Kanehl was close to Joe Hicks and Duke Carmel as the Met centerfielder with the highest putouts per inning ratio.
Originally signed by the New York Yankees in 1954, Kanehl played eight seasons in their chain before being drafted by the Mets. He finally made the big leagues as a 28-year-old rookie in 1962. He hit the first grand slam in club history on July 6th of that year off Bobby Shantz of the St. Louis Cardinals at the Polo Grounds. Overall, he remained with the Mets for three seasons.
Kanehl died at age 70 after suffering a heart attack.